Fill ‘er up.

lovelife

Love is a bit like air. We can’t see it, but we can tell when it isn’t there. Love is transformative–of families, of workplaces, of schools, of neighborhoods. It is limitless. It is free. It multiplies when applied to any situation.

What better ingredient to sprinkle in every corner of our lives than love?

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.

Be kind.

bekind

In a world of senseless violence and hate, you can make a difference.

Be kind.

In a world grieving, you can make a difference.

Be loving.

In a world angry and looking for someone to blame, you can make a difference.

Be gentle.

 

Here’s to good friends.

friends

What a blessing good friends are in our lives! To laugh and cry with, to play and work with, to share the ups and downs of life. Our friends lift us up and delight us and make the world a much happier place for their being in it and for their loving us.

Cheers to good friends!

Reach out and touch someone.

touchparts

Loneliness is an epidemic. Despite our superficial connections with social media, many of us feel a lack of connection with others. In fact, seeing people laughing and having a wonderful time on social media can make our own loneliness worse.

We miss simple touch. We miss that sense of kinship from a shared connection. We miss being part of a tight group like we felt when we were in school or were in a loving nuclear family.

The way out of this loneliness is both simple and terribly hard–reach out to others. (They are probably lonely, too.)

Are we too good at goodbyes?

 

goodbye

Has it become too easy to slam the door on someone else? Forget about them, move on, find someone new, start over, or, worse, never let anyone close to us again? If it is too easy, what has been lost?

Our relationships are bound to be imperfect because they are made up of imperfect people coming at the world in different ways with different lived experiences. (Even our relationship with ourself is imperfect because each of us is flawed.) But while these differences do provide a potential for friction, they also provide a potential for growth and empathy. We can step back and try to see the world from someone else’s point of view; our perspective becomes broader and more true. We become more thoughtful. We can practice forgiveness, as we would hope to be forgiven if we made a mistake. We can open ourselves up to trust again.

Goodbye, particularly with the people you love and trust and who help you blossom into who you were meant to be, needs to be hard. Very hard. We will become smaller people if we shut ourselves off if a relationship falters. We will become hard if we insist on perfection from ourselves or others.  We will not blossom, but will wither, if we refuse to forgive.

To understand just how sad it is when goodbyes become too easy, listen to this tear-jerker by Sam Smith:

Too Good at Goodbyes

by Sam Smith

You must think that I’m stupid
You must think that I’m a fool
You must think that I’m new to this
But I have seen this all before

I’m never gonna let you close to me
Even though you mean the most to me
‘Cause every time I open up, it hurts
So I’m never gonna get too close to you
Even when I mean the most to you
In case you go and leave me in the dirt

And every time you hurt me, the less that I cry
And every time you leave me, the quicker these tears dry
And every time you walk out, the less I love you
Baby, we don’t stand a chance, it’s sad but it’s true

I’m way too good at goodbyes
(I’m way too good at goodbyes)
I’m way too good at goodbyes
(I’m way too good at goodbyes)

I know you’re thinkin’ I’m heartless
I know you’re thinkin’ I’m cold
I’m just protectin’ my innocence
I’m just protectin’ my soul

I’m never gonna let you close to me
Even though you mean the most to me
‘Cause every time I open up, it hurts
So I’m never gonna get too close to you
Even when I mean the most to you
In case you go and leave me in the dirt

And every time you hurt me, the less that I cry
And every time you leave me, the quicker these tears dry
And every time you walk out, the less I love you
Baby, we don’t stand a chance, it’s sad but it’s true

I’m way too good at goodbyes
(I’m way too good at goodbyes)
I’m way too good at goodbyes
(I’m way too good at goodbyes)

 

So, maybe, it’s time to get better at fighting through the rough stuff in order to get to better, deeper, truer relationships. It’s time to be bad at goodbyes.

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What (or who) is your woods?

tothewoods

We don’t let just anyone see us vulnerable, hear our secret stories, watch us struggle. To most of the world, we carry a bit of a shield between them and our tender parts. But there are some few we trust to see the real person behind the mask. We must love those people very much to be so naked and exposed.

Because we need to lay those masks down sometimes, don’t we? We can’t live a life of posture. And so we seek out places where and people with whom we can relax and let down our hair, unafraid of judgment, unconcerned with being deemed eccentric.  Perhaps to be part of nature, to rest among creation until we lose sight of where we stop and others begin.

In this poem, Mary Oliver takes us into her sacred space–the woods.

She must love us very much.

 

How I Go To the Woods

by Mary Oliver  

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way or praying, as you no doubt have yours.  

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much. 

But soft!

Butsoft

Are there any more beautiful words in English literature than these: “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?”

These are Romeo’s words when he gazes at Juliet above on the balcony, but what if we were to bring these words into our everyday encounters?

But soft! Listen to the hush here, the rapt attention, all of his focus on her, just her. What if we were to whisper these words to ourselves before we talk with someone? But soft! The world fades, the focus sharpens, all of our attention is on that person. But soft! reminds us not just to be calm and attentive, but also to be gentle and reverent. Wouldn’t any conversation shift if it were preceded by such a lovely call to silence? Wouldn’t But soft! be a perfect pairing of words to bring back into common usage?

“What light through yonder window breaks?” Again, what if we were to look at each other this way? As light, as beings capable of making the world a brighter place. Even those with much of darkness about them have an inner light, a spark of good. What if we were to ignore the dark and focus on the light in each other? What a compliment it is to be called a light! Wouldn’t someone noticing our light make each of us want to shine ever more brightly? And wouldn’t that, accordingly, make the world an ever brighter place?

Look around. Someone wants your attention.

But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?

You are always with me.

thread

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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