Kiss the Earth.

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Notice the beauty all around you. That butterfly. That blossoming flower. That cloud formation. That wind against your cheek. That gnarled tree. Stop and notice.

It is so easy to miss it.

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Stay sweet.

 

bitterheart

Why do some people become so bitter? They can’t seem to shake the hurt, that victimization they feel, and they just want to drag down someone else to wallow in it with them. If the blame for the problem is always seen as someone else, they never have anything to confront in themselves or to fix. It’s out of their control, they think, so they just rage.

But is it really? We all get hurt. We all at one time or another are mistreated. But to stop the harm from infecting our hearts and making them bitter, we have to learn how to forgive and let it go. We have to be able to not let that damage change the way we show up in the world. We still have the ability to choose our response and the kind of people we want to be.

Someone may hurt you, but don’t let them poison your life even long after they’ve left.

 

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What’s your gift?

climbingfish

We are each unique. Going through school, jobs, and life, it’s easy to forget that, but it will keep announcing itself to us in various, sometimes disconcerting, ways. We don’t all like the same things, don’t have the same talents, don’t see the world the same way. Each of us needs to discover for ourself how to do this thing called life. There is no one-size-fits-all version.

When you find your gifts, the things that make you feel alive, the work you would do even if it were for free, you will be like a duck to water, or, as in this delightful video, like a baby otter to water for the very first time.

Holy rhythms

timekeeper

Do you ever doubt that there is a bigger picture, that the ebbs and flows of your life make sense, that someone cares for you? In this lovely excerpt, Glennon Doyle finds some peace in the rise and fall of the waves and the rhythms of nature:

The surf continues to hit the sand rhythmically and dependably and I trust it will continue. The sun is setting but I know it will rise again tomorrow. There is a pattern to things. This makes me wonder if I can also trust that there is a pattern, a rhythm, a beauty, a natural rise and fall to my life as well. I wonder if the one holding together this sky might also be capable of holding together my heart. I wonder if the one making this sky so achingly beautiful might also be working to make my life beautiful, too.

The top of the sun disappears into the water, and even as I watch it go, I know that I am the one doing the leaving. It is staying in the same place, shining on and on. I will just have to be patient and rest until I can see it again. Light disappears sometimes, but it always comes back. And after I say goodbye to the sun, I applaud loudly for the one responsible for the show. I’m flooded with awe, relief, and comfort. I feel a chill because the sun is down now. Everything is as it should be. All is well.

The other people on the beach start to leave, but I am not ready. I stay still, so I learn that the sky keeps exploding once the sun is gone. Deeper reds and brilliant purples continue to wrap around me like blankets until it all fades into pitch navy. Then I turn around and catch a glimpse of the moon, a silver boomerang in the sky that seems to have appeared out of the literal blue. But I know the moon’s always there, too, waiting for its time to be seen. The day has to fall to make way for the night and the night has to surrender its place so the day can have its turn. This strikes me as a holy rhythm. I wonder if whatever created this rhythm of the tides and the sky and the sun and the moon has a holy rhythm for my life, too. I consider that perhaps I’m in the middle of a cycle. Maybe there is a time for everything. Maybe there is a timekeeper.

Maybe, indeed.

Every little bit helps.

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Can you remember a time when you saved the day? Maybe you were able to help someone cover the cost of groceries when they came up short in line. Maybe you gave someone the Heimlich maneuver. Maybe you swerved to avoid a collision. Or maybe something less dramatic like saying a kind word to someone feeling blue.

In this charming video, a banker catches ducklings jumping off a ledge to get to their mother waiting below. Without him to help, they most likely would have been hurt. After all 12 are safe, he, and much of the town who have gathered to watch the rescue, lead the little duck family down a parade route to a nearby river. A modern Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, and the kind of story that can make all of us feel a bit better about the state of the world.

Helping others reminds us that we matter, that we are here for a reason, and that the world would be a darker place without us in it. That’s as helpful to us as to those we help. Win-win.

What’s the little bit you can do today?

Err away.

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Children are born discoverers, unafraid to make mistakes. Everything is new. Around every corner, a new adventure.

Somewhere along the way, though, we are taught it is wrong to make mistakes, and we avoid them at all costs, even, sometimes, by sticking to what we already know well rather than venturing out to try new things.

But what’s so bad about making a mistake? Is it even a mistake, really, if we learn from it?

Many medical breakthroughs and inventions came from mistakes. Post-it notes, microwaves, penicillin, artificial sweetener, chewing gum, x-rays. On and on. Things discovered by mistake.

When we get afraid to try new things or do things differently, we fall into a rut and diminish our ability to create and see new points of view. Our one way of doing and thinking wears a groove in our brains. In short, we turn into old, rigid people.

Getting out of those ruts, can re-engage our brains and creativity and cause us to make new connections, see new perspectives, discover new things. But first, we need to abandon our fear of mistakes and replace it with curiosity.

What is right there, just outside your normal way of doing and seeing, waiting to be discovered?

 

 

You are always with me.

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How hard it is to lose someone you love. There is so much that seems unseen or unfelt without being shared together. So many visceral, tangible reminders of your loss are everywhere. Sounds, smells, songs, times of day, stories, jokes, and so on. Everywhere you look. There’s no escaping the weight of the loss really.

The only thing that makes it bearable is to consider it not loss, but a gift. Moments shared colored your life and made it brighter and more nuanced. The threads of memories you shared become woven together with threads from all the people you’ve loved and become the tapestry that is your life. And that ever-presence becomes not a stab, but a comfort.

e.e. cummings captured it well:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
To all those we have loved and miss dearly, let us look back fondly, grateful for all the colors they brought into the tapestry of our lives, and repeat together:
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

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Uncomfortable?

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When does change and personal growth happen? To become an oak, the acorn must stop being a seed. To become a chicken, the chick must break out of the shell. Sometimes the status quo becomes painful or uncomfortable, and we must push forward, sometimes painfully, to another stage.

Consider the lobster. Its shell is static. When the lobster feels it becoming too tight, it must hide under some rocks, shed the shell, and wait for a new one to grow. We, too, can use times of adversity and discomfort to stretch and grow. Here, Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski explains the process.

If you’re uncomfortable right now, consider if this may be the time to push yourself forward.

How do we pray.

preciouslife

What does it mean to pray anyway?

Is it a prayer when we breathe in the scent of the baby in our arms as we close our eyes against the press of tears and think, “Thank you, thank you, thank you”?

Is it a prayer when we groan with the weight of hopes and dreams unrealized and unclear and seemingly out of reach?

Is it a prayer when we crumble to the ground, broken, and whisper, “Help. Please help me.”

Is it a prayer when we stand in awe of creation as Mary Oliver does of this grasshopper:

The Summer Day

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Yes, all of it. It is a prayer every time you are grateful. It is a prayer when you reach out in hope. It is a prayer when you glimpse something more, deeper, wider than the here and now. Paying attention to whomever or whatever is right in front of you and to the longings of your own heart puts you in the middle of the miraculous unfolding all around us.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

What do you want most?

discipline

For Lincoln, it wasn’t a choice between peace and war. It was a choice between war and a divided nation. Peace would not have solved the larger issue of whether slavery should be tolerated. If he had framed the issue as a choice between peace and war, the country might look quite different now. To make a difficult decision, you have to consider what you want most, the ultimate goal, and then consider what is necessary to get there. It may be a long road to reach that goal, but if you settle along the way, you may not ever get there.

 

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