Sowing peace.

Let St. Francis of Assisi’s timeless prayer soothe your 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.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

An Irish blessing for St. Patrick’s Day.

And another:

May there always be work for your hands to do
May your purse always hold a coin or two;
May the sun always shine on your windowpane;
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;
May the hand of a friend always be near you;
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

And one more for the road:

May the blessing of light be upon you,
Light on the outside,
Light on the inside.

With God’s sunlight shining on you,
May your heart glow with warmth,
Like a turf fire
that welcomes friends and strangers alike.

May the light of the Lord shine from your eyes,
Like a candle in the window,
Welcoming the weary traveller.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Savor the little things.

For better or worse, we have pushed a collective pause button. Our world just got narrower on the outside. Perhaps this is the time to broaden it on the inside. Enjoy the moments. Reach out to people to check in and tell them you care. Savor the little things. Pause and reflect.

Watch for the stars.

In every darkness, a bit of light will shine to light your way. It may be in the acts of kindness and generosity you see, in words of wisdom you remember and hold close to your heart, or memories of past struggles that you have gotten through to the other side. We draw strength and courage from each other, working together. That community will sustain us.

In his book, Healing the Divide, editor James Crews collects poem of kindness and compassion. Here is one by Danusha Laméris for you to carry with you today:

“I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs to let you by. Or how strangers still say ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes, a leftover from the Bubonic plague. ‘Don’t die,’ we are saying. And sometimes, when you spill lemons from your grocery bag, someone else will help you pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other. We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder, and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass. We have so little of each other, now. So far from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange. What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together when we say, ‘Here have my seat,’ ‘Go ahead—you first,’ ‘I like your hat.’”

We will get through this present darkness. Hold tight to the little kindnesses, savor them, and spread them where you can to light the way for those behind you.

For more, a reminder that we were made for times like these.

Heaven under our feet.

What do you think heaven looks like? Certainly, if we can see there, it is a place of great beauty and marvelous complexity where we marvel at God’s creation. If we can hear there, music that stirs the soul must be the score. And so on through our senses

But what if we are not corporeal in heaven and don’t have senses per se? What then? Perhaps it is a place of harmony, of communion, with everyone different but united in common purpose.

These are good things, yes? Appreciating beauty in God’s creation, enjoying music that stirs the soul, being so present in our bodies that we marvel at its systems? And, of course, communion, harmony, peace? These are good things.

Perhaps, today, we can take time to bring a bit of heaven to earth. Pause to admire the beauty around us, savor, marvel, be astonished. And then with our senses full and renewed, have courage to bring peace and harmony to our day.

Plant your seeds.

harvest

Doing the right thing, the kind thing, the compassionate thing is an act of faith. You may never see the results of your action. You may never know that your courage in doing the right thing inspired someone else who, without that example, may have chosen the expedient thing, or the self-serving thing, or the popular thing. You may never know that the kind words you said gave someone an affirmation they desperately needed. You may never know that your kind thing spread exponentially outward into a billion kind things. You may feel that doing the right thing cost you somehow or was foolish or self-destructive. But you know it is the right thing, so you do it because you have faith that it will make a difference.

Those seeds of kindness that you sow take on a life of their own. They couple with other kind things and spread, though that may be largely invisible to you. Take heart from this video of a seed sprouting. Have faith that what you do makes a difference.

And remember, as stated by Cynthia Occe, “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”

 

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Begin with a dream

Harriet

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. There is nothing that has ever happened to help this world that didn’t start with someone believing the world could be better and dreaming of a way to make it so. No matter how wildly unbelievable or preposterous the dream, someone had the audacity to challenge the status quo and the tenacity to make it happen.

What is your dream? How will you reach for the stars to change the world?

How to carry a heavy load

load

We are weighed down. The tasks ahead seem dauntless; the burdens great. There is so much to be done, and seemingly so little time. Yet, we know that others before us have been able to carry heavy burdens with grace and inner strength. How do they do it? Some ideas:

Evaluate your load. Is it really yours to carry? Holding on to other people’s problems is debilitating because we have no control over their actions. Similarly, feeling like you’re bearing the weight of a global problem on just our own shoulders is both unrealistic and unnecessary. We can help and support someone struggling, and work with others toward a common goal on larger problems, and those are properly our burdens, but we can’t force someone to behave as we would have them, and we, alone, cannot solve a problem like world hunger and peace that is so much greater than any one person. We must discern how best to offer our support and efforts, but realize that, sometimes, the ultimate solutions are beyond our control.

Focus on the gift of that present moment. It is easy to get overwhelmed in a crisis. We see or experience them daily, but when we focus on the present moment as an opportunity to help others, our perception shifts away from the weight of the burden to the lightness that comes from helping others. Yes, there is a refugee crisis, but perhaps we can help. Yes, we’ve lost our job, but perhaps that is an opportunity to do something we’ve dreamed about. Part of the burden that comes from bad things happening is trying to hold on to the world as it existed before the crisis. We mourn the loss and rail against the unfairness. But when we lay that down, and focus on the new reality and challenges present now, in the life we have now, we feel lighter.

Recognize a larger perspective. We will not always be here in this dark place. A new day will come bringing new possibilities and circumstances. We must hold on and look for the bigger picture, remembering that there are ebbs and flows to life, and that this too shall pass.

Ask for help. Sometimes we best carry our burdens by letting someone else share them. We are made to support each other. Perhaps helping you with your burden is the answer to someone else who feels that they lack purpose. Win-win. Life will surprise you that way.

Yes, we are burdened. Life can be hard. As M. Scott Peck says in The Road Less Traveled,

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult–once we truly understand and accept it–then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

Amaze yourself. We are stronger than we realize and braver and smarter and more capable, and sometimes we just have to close our eyes and push forward. For inspiration, consider this video of an actual burden and use it as a metaphor for the burdens you face today:

 

 

You’ve got this.

 

 

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