Hope

BY VIEWING ANY VIDEO OR LISTENING TO ANY AUDIO RECORDING POSTED ON THIS SITE, YOU REPRESENT YOU HAVE READ, UNDERSTAND, AND AGREE TO THE DISCLAIMER. BY VIEWING ANY VIDEO OR LISTENING TO ANY AUDIO RECORDING POSTED ON THIS SITE AND USING EFT, YOU ARE AGREEING TO BE LEGALLY BOUND BY THE DISCLAIMER.

Receiving and Giving – an Easter Reflection


Last night was Maundy Thursday.  In the Christian Tradition, of which I am a part, it is the night when we celebrate Jesus’ last night with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion on Good Friday, looking forward to Easter.   It is the night Jesus shared bread and wine with his followers to deepen their memory of him.  It is also the night he washed the feet of his disciples.  He said he did this to set an example of servanthood for them.

Christians of many denominations all over the world attended services last evening that incorporated foot washing.  At the service I attended, each person who chose to participate came to the front pew and had their feet washed in a basin by a person kneeling in front of them.  When finished, the one who did the washing returned to their original seat in the congregation. The person whose feet had just been washed then turned around and knelt waiting for the next person to sit before them.

The power and implications of this experience are many for me.  Not everyone chose to participate which is fine.   Bearing witness and offering support is important.   I’m glad, however, that I did go up.  Getting to my feet (pun intended) was the only hard part.  Like so much in life, getting started is half the battle.

Once I sat down in front of a radiantly smiling woman whom I did not know, I entered an experience that was full of kindness, relaxation and friendship.  In fact, it felt like the whole congregation was entering a companionable meditation.  It was perfect in its imperfection.  The person designated to hand out the towels for drying, got distracted and my servant and I were briefly marooned.    I leaned over and gave her arms a little squeeze.  We smiled broadly at each other.  Servanthood doesn’t always go according to plan, but we are still serving.

By the time I’d switched and was kneeling and waiting, I was looking forward to my turn.  I wanted to do this for someone else.  As a distinguished member of the congregation sat down in front of me, all I felt was joy.  I noticed her bunion, and wondered if it gave her pain.  I felt strength and sturdiness flowing from her body.  I poured water over her feet from a plastic pitcher clearly conscripted from someone’s kitchen for the occasion.  We worked together like we’d done this a hundred times before.  I was gentle and loving, but there was also a practical, workmanlike process that didn’t take long.

Dare I say I had fun?  If fun is measured by the urge, “Let’s do this again!”, then yes, I had fun.  Foot washing during Maundy Thursday services is a tangible enactment of profound spiritual principles.  It is a great equalizer, demonstrating the circle of serving and being served.  It shows us the importance of receiving first, to better equip us to serve. We are reminded that giving and receiving can’t be separated.  That each role brings equal joy and strength and that it is natural to flow back and forth between being giver and receiver.  But, receive first.  Let our gifts to others flow from our own hearts being filled.  That’s what makes it fun.

 

A Reason For Hope


img_2718hre-22016 Holiday Season

“Not being too certain that ‘never again’ can truly be achieved, I still believe that we must continue to educate the next generations about the dangers of wrongly understood nationalism.”
Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, professor and Nobel Laureate. Died in July at the age of 87

How am I going to manage in a world with Elie Wiesel no longer in it? I long to hear his voice, crystalline in perception and unwavering, speaking of this moment in history. I want him here to point out the North Star by which we can navigate our tossed and tiny ships. Still, he left a powerful legacy. His essence and wisdom are here.

This year has been an uproar leaving many disconnected and afraid; women who are distrustful and jaded of men, children who are distracted and confused, men who have lost their centered sense of personal power. People disenfranchised. The moral compass spinning.
The distinguished and wise poet/philosopher, Mark Nepo, with whom I studied this year, said to me recently, “Don’t write about what you know. Write about what you want to understand.” I will be writing more.

How do I hold my center in a world in upheaval? How do I have confidence amid fear and worry. How do I feel safe? Perhaps, sometimes, I don’t. Perhaps it’s about returning, again and again to my heart. Perhaps it is the cultivation, on a daily basis, of moral courage and fierce determination; to not linger in strange waters when I’m knocked off course.

Despite turbulence, each of our lives continues. We will each choose where we place our energies, time and talents. This year, I completed my certification in Accelerated Resolution Therapy. Yet another tool for facilitating recovery from trauma more deeply and efficiently. I’m adding to my public Facebook page more faithfully. Please come visit for encouragement and a respectful dialog. I’ve also indexed my blog so that you can find support by category. My advocacy for all captivates, human or animal, continues. One of my deepest commitments. Lily, Susie and Emma Jane, my own dear fur girls, remain always my sustaining treasures.

As most of you know, I love novels. I learn so much about human woundedness, frailty and strength from them. I get to observe in a morality play the way some decisions take a generation, or many generations, to come full circle and be made right. One of the most powerful that I read this year is Amy Tan’s The Valley of Amazement. In it she writes, “Neglect is a surreptitious slayer of the heart. It has as its accomplice carelessness.” May we not let worry cause us to be neglectful. May we not grow careless through the distraction of perceived powerlessness or fear. God is still God. The world is still beautiful. The human heart is still capable of magnificent striving.

An article in the Washington Post said of Elie Wiesel recently, “In his lectures, he often looked small and fragile behind the heavy lectern. He commented that he hoped not to live long enough to be the last survivor because the burden would be too great.” We will carry on his legacy. May we follow his example to speak and love again and again and again.

Don’t give up. Keep growing. Keep giving. Keep believing.

Be blessed and be brave, Jeanne

“The Earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.”

Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

Trusting Healing


It can take a long time for some emotional wounds to form.  It can also be surprisingly hard to know for sure when a wound is healing, especially at the beginning.

Let’s think for a moment how these many wounds happen. Frequently they’re cumulative.  A number of similar experiences or habits repeating over and over.  Chronic criticism over many years can evolve into you then continuing now to remind yourself your needs don’t matter or admitting defeat after you’ve just barely started something bold and new, to name just a few.

Think about it physically, one action, word or thought, like one quick swipe of sandpaper across your skin, it wouldn’t feel good, but it also probably wouldn’t do much damage.  If you keep rubbing the same place with the sandpaper over and over, after a while, the wound will be very big and painful.  So, I think you’d agree that step one would be “ditch the sandpaper”.  Good idea, but the wound still looks awful.  Some people might think “the sandpaper wasn’t the problem, look at this terrible wound!”  True, but you only stopped rubbing a minuet ago.  What might happen to the wound after a day, a week, a month with no new wounding?  It could be profoundly better (especially with a little TLC thrown in like keeping it clean and a nice, soft bandage).

I can be touch to ditch the sandpaper.  We might now know it IS sandpaper and/or it might feel so familiar that it’s strangely hard to stop rubbing. Maybe it’s always using the word “should” instead of “could”.  Maybe it’s looking at the world with a critical eye, seeing what’s wrong rather than what’s right, or a hundred other possibilities that leave us with wounds of  discouragement, fear or defeat.   It’s a leap of faith to allow time for healing to show – to give it time to prove it was the sandpaper after all and that healing can happen.

Someone I knew a long time ago always used to say, “It’s a great life as long as you don’t weaken!”    He had big wounds of disappointment and discouragement with life that never seemed to diminish.  There had been a lot of sandpaper moments in his childhood, but he kept the sandpaper and kept using it on himself long after he could have thrown it away and let his woulds heal.  Far longer than it needed to be, life continued to feel like a battle to him.

What’s your sandpaper?  Be on lookout for it.  A common thought.  A frequent phrase you use.  It’s entirely possible that it’s unconscious, swiping away at a wound that’s never had the chance to heal.  Find it the sandpaper, let go of it, add a little TLC (mindfulness, loving kindness meditation, tapping, etc.) and trust the healing will happen as you return to your true, unwounded self.

This meditation may help (remember that “home” is your own deepest true self).

http://www.tappingprayerfully.com/audio/arriving-home-meditation/

There are reasons to hope


“If you don’t know what to do, do nothing . . . except listen.” Maya Angelou

What a year it has been. Violence, turmoil and chaos. So many reasons to be afraid, to hide, to despair. As I write this, 14 more people have died, this time, in San Bernadino. Guns blaze and people hurry to buy more guns. What do we do?

In a lecture several years ago, one of my lifelong role models, Jane Goodall, reflected on making decisions. She opined that making decisions solely from the mind addresses immediate concerns. Such decisions tend to be reactive and possibly impulsive. Decisions made from the heart tend to take a longer view; factor in long term consequences.

I think we get confused about strength and weakness. We often think that swift decisions and actions equate to strength (sometimes they do) and thoughtful consideration is naive or timid (often it’s not). I also know in my own life that the difference between swift and considered can be a timespan as short as a breath. In that breath, it’s possible to drop into one’s heart. A chance to listen.

It’s hard in the face of panic and anger. So many times in my life I’ve reacted reflexively. Said or done something defensively, impulsively. It almost never turns out well. Most often, I’m left with more mess to clean up. When I take that breath, wait, and sense what is alive in me, I have more choices – better choices. For me, these have been far more often the choices holding the potential for healing and hope.

When I take that breath and drop into my heart I hear God whisper to me, “I’ve got you”. I feel held and I know I’m not alone. I realize that the world is more than I see. These are the same three words that Shannon Johnson, a former truck driver and San Bernadino Public Health Department worker said to Denise Peraza, the young woman he held close and shielded with his body during the attack. “I’ve got you.” Sadly, Shannon didn’t survive, but his words continue to inspire and encourage. I believe he took a breath.

My commitment in the coming year is to contribute more regularly through my websites and Facebook to the dialogue of courage and peace. I hope you’ll join me. To love truth is to love God. To seek the truth is the literal definition of a saint.

Don’t lose heart,  Jeanne