Great reflection as the New Year begins…
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” – Henri Nouwen.
It is easy for any of us to forget our life’s aims in the coming months of 2013. Say; “What are the most important things in life?” “Who are the most important people in our lives?” Or “What are the most important tasks in our lives?”
To serve from our hearts is to give ourselves to life – not our words, time or business, but ourselves. We do not need any resources to serve from our hearts – all we need is to be rich inside.
Having a good heart is one thing but to give it, to create something…
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These words ring familiar to my ears on this evening. Be it large life decisions or the plans of one day, I find that what I expect seldom matches the outcome.
When reading Joseph Campbell’s quote, familiar phrases may come to us: “let go, and let God.” or “the best laid plans of mice and men.” Phrases that speak to the plans we think are together and ready to execute. When we are up and preparing to go – we discover our direction becomes the opposite of our original course.
Big life changes are like this. Who knew that at the end of my last job I would be looking at retirement? Certainly not me! I was on a certain path filled with expectations. These type of changes in the course one’s life call for soul-searching. Re-direction is never easy. On a small or large-scale it can fill us with frustration and create anxiety about what life will really look like. Re-direction often means change requiring patience and trust.
Joseph Campbell speaks to this clearly and to the point. The frustration, oh – it comes from being human– when the plans we’ve made do not work out the way we expect there is a need to hold on tight. But as I read this quote from Campbell, I realize “The life that is waiting” might very well offer less stress and more grace. It is hard to argue when things work out better than you ever imagined!
So I’m thinking about life changes this evening. There’s little we can do except be open. Open to what the new direction has to offer. Letting go is never easy. There will always be grief from a sense of loss. But the joy that can be found might just make one wonder why you fought to hold those other plans for so long. To be given the opportunity to live in a way that brings hope and creativity is a true gift. A gift never to be taken for granted.
When I begin to lose my humor or feel frustration – I remind myself of this quote from Campbell. What lies ahead may not always be what was planned but isn’t that part of life’s adventure?
The message behind the words is the voice of the heart. Rumi
It seems that I have had much to say recently on the topic of actions and intentions. At the moment it appears, we have plenty of examples in our world that warrants this type of reflection. As I read articles in other venues, I am aware that these topics are on the minds and hearts of many people.
Words are very powerful tools. They can build up or tear down. They can bind us together in security or sprinkle dust of anxiety. We find ourselves at a point in history when many public words are thrown around to create confusion and instill fear. And this is their intention…
Actions leave large impressions on those who witness them. They can encourage people to share goodness by example or carry anger and fear to their extreme. We find ourselves at a point in history when actions are rising in danger, giving permission for the spread of hostility and fear.
These words and actions appear larger than life attempting to destroy trust and community. It is the result of power and greed. We experience those with great power (a power we have bestowed) to tower over those who have little power (a position that has been forced). It is a situation that continues to grow as our culture is overwhelmed with the noisy distraction of talk.
So I ask – Where are the quiet places? The places that allow words to be used only when necessary and the heart’s intention is understood. The places where we begin with trust and build communities designed to care for one another because we believe it is the good and faithful thing to do. Where are these places?
Maybe this is the most important question now. If these quiet places are not found in obvious and welcoming forms then the noise that is dismantling our communities will continue to be successful toward its goal. Are we able to create environments where people can come to find rest from the noise and re-member the importance of trust and compassion? Can we help the great and the small not only talk with one another but work together to show another way of living and serving in this world? I am convinced it can be done and even more certain that people are longing for the invitation to act on the ‘voice of the heart’.
What do you think?! Have you found examples of this happening? Share what you think, what you know and where we can go to see these quiet places in action.
As every small finger and button nose of a new-born child remains and is a part of growth into adulthood, ever important to the forming of a whole and healthy person; so must the stories (the celebrations and sorrows) be a part of us, making us wholly (holy) and unique. The words are wise – shared with us from the great Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron – the things we need to know are waiting to clear our hearts and calm our spirits. Yes, the learning is hard work and sometimes painful but we need not feel alone — the world is filled with ‘students’ on this path.
When we find one another, may we offer greetings of welcome and compassion.