Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Being Good

The Mystery within...
Just as Kermit the Frog sings, “It’s Not that Easy Being Green,” I have been thinking this past week it’s not that easy being good.  My daughter recently gifted me with New York columnist David Brook’s latest book, “The Road to Character” in which I read we also need to help others be good.  I thought, wow, it’s hard enough to be good and then I have to help others be good too.  And doesn’t that then open Pandora’s box because what my idea of good is not always true for another.  But I am learning there are some guiding principles to promote goodness in myself, and relate to others in a good way.

It seems the first necessary understanding is that I am flawed.  In realizing and confronting my flaws, I build character.  Knowing that everyday presents opportunities to build character, and serve others, comes through disciplined daily reflection that exposes my limitations, shatters my illusions, and leads to humility.  Ironically the gift becomes dependency--teaching indebtedness, knowing that I am just a part of the greater whole.  It also teaches me, regardless of the flaws of others, I need to affirm each person’s inherent dignity.  And then like Kermit’s other famous song I understand we are all part of the “Rainbow Connection.” 

So being good is not all that easy.  Worthwhile things aren’t.  Real suffering can be involved.  But it is the kind of suffering that eventually leads to a larger purpose beyond myself and reveals some of life’s deepest truths where joy is found.

What if our flaws, and those of others, teach use how to be good and help other be good too?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hope and Sadness

The Mystery within...
I can’t remember the last time I felt so hopeful as I did this past week with Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change.  His admonishment of developed nations' carbon emissions, the link to climate change, and its effect on undeveloped nations and the poor, lightened my heart and filled me with hope for the future.  I felt anew, the connection we have with our earth and everyone on it.  I listened to the conservatives respond to the Pope’s plea with fascination as their words so blatantly exposed their agendas.  I know there is still a long road ahead, but I have hope that this renewed struggle shows how deeply connected we all are, and will eventually lead us to revere and respect one another and our precious earth.

Real sadness touched me as well with the mass murders in a South Carolina black church by a young white man.  My heart ached for the young man, full of hate, who wrought so much death and grief for the affected families and our nation.  This Sunday’s “Meet the Press” discussion of this tragedy revealed a startling fact regarding South Carolina’s flying the confederate flag from its state capitol.  The fact was that it first started this practice in the early 1960’s in defiance for the passage of Civil Rights legislation. 

I either read or heard it once said that when evil is exposed to the light, it dies.  That gives me hope that we are on our way to creating a society where it is easier to be good to one another and our earth.

What if we all felt hope that eventually good will prevail for one another and our earth?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Emerging from Knee Replacement Surgery

The Mystery within...
Six weeks have passed since I became resigned I could not get ready for my impending knee replacement and keep on blogging.  I thought I would have so much time while recuperating to write and read but have recently returned unread, or partially read, overdue library books.  There are still six weeks of unopened Center for Action and Contemplation daily meditations in my computer’s inbox.  The same is true for Krista Tippet’s On Being podcasts.  It has truly been a slow emergence back into living, as I knew it.  I became keenly aware of how much in life I have taken for granted when after surgery I had to be supervised while taking a shower.  And I am still not able to take a walk in the woods.

Patience is what I was told I needed most after this surgery.  I am working on it.  Grueling outpatient physical therapy three times a week, with high power pain medication onboard, continues with minimal range of motion progress.  Patience.  I’m working on it.  Hours of at home exercises claim my days.  Patience.  I’m working on it.  And although I still no longer try to make phone calls on the TV remote control as I did when in the hospital, my mental clarity is returning slowly.  Patience.  I’m working on it.

I remember blogging "I will accept what follows my surgery, including the pain."  I should have been more specific and added, “without being cranky.”  I’m working on it.  What I am hoping I have learned so far from my knee replacement is to accept another’s crankiness, knowing it comes from their pain.

What if we could all accept another’s crankiness, knowing it comes from their pain?  

Monday, April 27, 2015


The Mystery within...
Right now my days are crammed with medical appointments, therapy, and legal work.  I am now experiencing some relief in knowing I cannot do it all and also write a blog post this week.  I shall miss my reflecting and playing with words and look forward to when I can resume again.  But I’m impressed with my resignation.

What if we could always know when to embrace resignation? 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Path to the Soul

The Mystery within...
This past Saturday I took some time to go and listen to Blair Lewis read from his upcoming audio book to be released sometime this fall titled, “Alive and Healthy -- Shortcuts to the Soul.”  I was curious about the shortcuts part and I am still uncertain if they exist.  My path to the soul has been through suffering in the loss of my husband and son to suicide, in my struggle to find my voice and self-worth in caring for my aging parents, and other traumas.  I have come to know accepting my suffering is the straightest path to the Inner Light within that cares for me.  But it can be a fleeting awareness and hard to hang onto. 

Blair reminded me the removal of fear is a key spiritual act.  It is how I came to know and trust my Inner Light.  He also stated our mind is very high maintenance.  Thoughts are changeable and can often take us where we don’t want to go; and our feelings can sometimes be fickle.  So his antidote for the interfering mind and feelings is to stay in the Now.  He said there are only two time zones--the Now and the not now. 

So I shall work to stay in the Now to short-circuit my fears surrounding my upcoming knee replacement.  I know I am much more than my mind, thoughts and feelings.  I will accept what doesn’t get done before my surgery, and accept what follows, including the pain.  I have had numerous opportunities in my life to know accepting whatever is, especially the pain, is the straightest path to the Light within.

What if we could all live in the Now time zone, accepting whatever is, to access our Inner Light?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Someone's Watching

The Mystery within...
Walks with my yellow lab, Oliver, are getting more difficult for my left knee.  Some days are better than others.  But now I have started to rely on two snowshoe poles to steady me along the path that dips and rises around that little 17-acre wood we like to walk.  One day we were already a good distance from the car when I realized I forgot my poles.  I didn’t want to go back for them so I kept walking across the wooden plank bridge over the river leading to the woods.  I began to regret my decision not to go back until I turned to onto the path.  There, leaning against the small wooden bench at the wood’s entrance, was a sturdy staff waiting for me.  I felt deeply comforted at the sight of it and its heft secured me on the uneven ground.  Before leaving the woods I returned this aid to where I found it and felt a deep knowing I am being watched over. 

A knee replacement is in my future.  It was a difficult decision and is a big step for me.  Lines from Rumi’s poem, “The Guest House,” have been visiting me: 

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows…
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
 …because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

I expect the process of acquiring a new knee comes with new learning.  Just knowing I am being watched over is a priceless revelation.    

What if we all knew we are being watched over?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Some Right Words

The Mystery within...
What a delight it was to wake Easter morning to the eloquently witty, and transformational words spoken by Fr. Gregg Boyle, on Krista Tippet’s On Being, The Calling of Delight:  Gangs, Service and Kinship.  He has the words and heart to guide our spiritual work to open our anguished race conversation and lead us to know everything and everyone belongs. 

His walking in the lowly places models how when we interact with the other, both of us are changed.  And he knows that demonizing is always false.  He sees no divisions.  “I am the other you, and you are the other me,” and believes God created otherness so we would seek union.  His stories are of woundedness, and how learning to befriend those wounds brings transformation.  And he knows it is the other that saves us.

Fr. Boyle cautions us to be mindful of things that are fear driven, and the mental walls they create.  He says burn out comes from striving for success.  And he asks that we look for the sacred in the ordinary.  (Jesus took the cup at the last supper, not a chalice.)  And he points out that service is not the end all but rather the hallway to delighting in kinship with the other. 

The Los Angeles gang members Fr. Boyle affectionately calls homies, grow up in some almost unimaginable circumstances.  As a society we need to know those effects and also how to deliver better mental health care.  Knowing another’s story leads you to compassion.  Our job is to learn we are all homies—connected in kinship and belonging to one another.  When asked where his joy and healthy humor come from he responded, “From having a light grasp on life.”

What if we all heard words of belonging from the other that we are dying to hear?