Eye on the goal

obstacles

We can paralyze ourselves from finishing something if we aren’t careful. Even if it is something we really want to accomplish, our minds have a way of wandering into the parade of horribles that might go wrong. Or maybe we get stymied when we hit a closed door or an unexpected problem.

But our minds are also remarkably fluid and creative. If we keep our eyes on the goal and let go of our hyper focus on the things in our way, our minds have a remarkable way of showing us a new angle or insight that helps us approach the activity in a new way. We control our minds, not the other way around. So next time you keep going over and over all the obstacles, close your eyes and picture yourself surmounting them.

And then open your eyes, and get back to work.

What seems impossible?

impossible

What seems impossible to you right now?

So much seems out of reach. So many problems have yet to be solved. So many people do not get along. And yet, when we step back and take a long view, so many seemingly impossible things have been accomplished in just a lifetime–anti-biotics, flight, space travel, computers, internet. And though social justice clearly does not move in a straight line, we have seen significant advances in human rights that our great-grandparents may have been unable to predict or even hope for.

So what to make of this? It’s important to keep fighting the good fight even when the odds seem insurmountable. Keep striving for peace, for social justice, for a more equitable world. We may not see the dramatic change now, but when someone looks back at our time here on Earth, they will see we didn’t stop pushing forward and, with that long view, there was continued progress ever forward.

At what price?

priceofanything

You can’t do everything. You can’t have everything. You must choose.

This is particularly true of how we spend our time. We have a set amount of time, no more. When we decide what we do with our time, we necessarily decide what we don’t do with our time.

Choose wisely. Time, once spent, is lost.

Jealous?

jealous

When you touch your hand to fire, it’s good to take notice and move your hand away. You notice the pain, and then move to avoid it. The same is true of jealousy. You notice it first because it gives you a clue as to what you feel is missing in your own life, but then you move away. But that first part, noticing what you’re jealous of, is important because it points to a lack you’re feeling you may not even be consciously aware of. But don’t keep your hand in the flame, obsessing. Analyze it. Is there something missing in your own life? Turn your attention to making your own life better, your relationships deeper, your work more meaningful, your health more vibrant. That is time well-spent.

Love hard.

worstofus

What if the world knew you only by the worst thing you’ve ever done? Assume everything’s public, no secrets, anything can be known by everyone. That’s a tough scenario, isn’t it? What would people think if they could see all the bad things you’ve done, the cruel things you’ve said, the opportunities to be kind you’ve missed?

Some of us live that reality–known by one event, judged by all and found lacking–the drug addict, the convict, the molester, the drop-out, the neglectful mom. And yet each of us is incredibly complex, capable of both good and bad, cruelty and kindness, and, most importantly, redemption.

How all of our souls hunger for someone to see that, even when we make mistakes, there is good in us, too, that we aren’t all bad. That mistake shouldn’t define us. Imagine how much more that is true for someone who has been shunned by society because of one wrong turn.

What can we do to look at each other as we see ourselves, complex, erring individuals worthy of love? What can we do to recognize that we are all kin?

What is the opportunity hiding there?

opportunity

So much of life depends on our perception of reality. When things go deeply wrong, how can we consider the opportunity hiding there? Perhaps there is a new way to do things, a better way to communicate, a method of engagement that factors in other perspectives. Failure is never failure, really. It is always an opportunity to learn, even if it is merely to learn what doesn’t work.

What obstacles are in your path right now? How can you look at them differently to see the new opportunities waiting?

Let go.

forgiveness

Have you ever wished you could erase someone or something from your mind? That you could go back to that time when you hadn’t messed up or been hurt? We long for that before, don’t we? We hold on to the anger or regret because we miss that before so much, that innocent time before something wounded us or before we wounded someone else.

But holding that emotion grounds us in the past and our wounds don’t heal, but fester. It happened. We can’t erase it or take it back. We need to acknowledge that bad stuff happens, sometimes stuff we do ourselves, and move on, forgiving ourselves and others, into the future we have in front of us now rather than longing for the future we had in front of us before.

This, right here, right now, is what your life is. The future in front of you is built on all the things that have happened to you and things you have done up to this point, even the bad things.

Step into that future, let go of the past, and be the best you you can be.

An instrument of peace.

assisi

 

St. Francis of Assisi’s timeless prayer soothes the soul today:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life

And, for a special soul-reviving treat, listen to Sarah McLachlan as she sings these precious words. Maybe listen a few times.

Choose joy.

joy

Do we have the ability to notice the beautiful even when we are surrounded by ugly? Can we notice the kindness even in the midst of hate? What if we consciously chose to look for the best in every situation?

Melissa Moore says,

But what if I choose joy? What if I choose to wake up every single day and pursue the good in life rather than wallow in the bad? We have so little time on this earth; to really comprehend the shortness of this process we call life is to receive a gift. I simply decided one day to say yes to receiving the message–the one that is alerting me that I am squandering my short time here and to get with the program.

Our time here is so short. Do we want to waste a second of it being petty or small or cruel? When we have the chance to do good, don’t we want to seize it? Yes, life is tough and full of hardships and obstacles, but within each moment we have a chance to make it better, to shine, to lift each other up.

Let’s choose joy.

A time to grieve.

grief

 

This hurts. A physical, mind-numbing ache for what has been lost, not just the lives, though that is staggering, but also for the world we hoped for. A tragedy reminds us that the world is not peaceful yet, that there is so much work to be done, so much hurt to soothe, so many wounds to bind. Some turn to anger and lash out because this grief is heavy and painful. It is hard to bear. We are afraid. But even in the midst of our fear and our anger and all of our grief, there is beauty. The sun rises again. The birds sing. There is hope for a new, better day, yet still. Yet, still.

Redemption Song

by Kevin Young

Finally fall.
At last the mist,
heat’s haze, we woke
these past weeks with

has lifted. We find
ourselves chill, a briskness
we hug ourselves in.
Frost greying the ground.

Grief might be easy
if there wasn’t still
such beauty — would be far
simpler if the silver

maple didn’t thrust
it’s leaves into flame,
trusting that spring
will find it again.

All this might be easier if
there wasn’t a song
still lifting us above it,
if wind didn’t trouble

my mind like water.
I half expect to see you
fill the autumn air
like breath —

At night I sleep
on clenched fists.
Days I’m like the child
who on the playground

falls, crying
not so much from pain
as surprise.
I’m tired of tide

taking you away,
then back again —
what’s worse, the forgetting
or the thing

you can’t forget.
Neither yet —
last summer’s
choir of crickets

grown quiet.

SaveSave