Monday, November 24, 2014

Immigration Thoughts

The Mystery within...

Garrison Keillor’s November 22, 2014 Prairie Home Companion featured a few thoughts on immigration in a plaintiff song titled, “Tired Old World.”  His voice, the guitar, the melody, the words, all captured the melancholy sadness of the current standoff between some and our president.  I felt encouraged when Keillor’s New York City audience’s heartfelt applause came during and after Keillor’s singing the following words:

“If my heart fails to break at the sight of incredible pain,
Then this tired old world, this crazy time, is having its way.
If my mind understands every ruthless and poisonous act,
Then this tired old world, this crazy time, is having its way.

There’s some people fighting their way through this world all alone.
To care for their families they made our country their own.
If I punish the farm hand, the maid who cleans the hotel,
I’ve lost my compassion and mercy as well as myself.

If my eyes turn away just because I’ve got mine so okay,
Then this tired old world, this crazy time, is having its way.
If my life, on from here, is a life lived and driven by fear,
Then this tired old world, this crazy time, is having its way.

If I ever get to a time when it don’t bother me
to see innocent people degraded like dogs in the street,
who pick our vegetables, now our policemen expel.
Then I’ve lost my compassion and mercy as well as myself.

Men sit in Washington, adamant blocking the way,
while people are suffering, families with nothing to say.
Good people, good workers who want the good things we’ve got.
Have we lost our compassion and mercy?  I trust we have not.

If my heart fails to break at the sight of incredible pain,
Then this tired old world, this crazy time, is having its way.
Tired old world, crazy time, is having its way.

Be moved and encouraged.  Listen to Keillor sing and hear the audience applaud on November 22, 2014.  Click on Listen to the show in individual segments,” and then select “Tired Old World.”

What if we show compassion and mercy and let our voice be heard? 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dying to Live Better

The Mystery within...

The theme of this past Sunday’s service was dying teaches us how to live.  I felt a somber, yet hopeful energy, in the living room of our small gathering of mostly older adults who have lost loved ones and have grown.  But the focus was on our own inevitable end that imparts clarity for what is important in living a more meaningful life.  And while driving to this ecumenical service I had National Public Radio’s, “A Way with Words,” on in my car.  The radio show host commented how using less words are often more powerful.  When the pastor’s wife came and sat beside me after she helped her ailing husband deliver the sermon, I whispered, “Wow!”  She understood, in that one word, a genuine compliment for a job well done, and I understood in my core how less could let me live better.

What do I need less and more of in my life?  Less work, food, and hanging onto things; more play, exercise, listening, patience, acceptance, and letting go.  Learning to say “Yes” and “No” gracefully to others and myself would do the trick.
Parker Palmer’s October 15, 2014 On-Being reflection, “The Modern Violence of Over-Work,” tells how he learned to ask: “What do I want to let go of and what do I want to give myself to?”  Since we all have differing challenges, interests and talents, his words seem to be a good query for us all. 

What if we all learned to ask ourselves the right questions for a more balanced life?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mourning Politics

The Mystery within . . .
I wished a Native American friend a “Happy Thanksgiving” last week.  She smiled kindly and said, “Thanksgiving is a day of mourning for us.  We give thanks the following Friday.”  And then she invited me to come and join their feast.  My heart, mind and body received her words with grateful clarity and my voice responded, “Oh, I understand.”  The brutal politics of how the United States of America came to be is encapsulated in Native peoples day of mourning.

After the mid-term election results were announced on November 4, I was unable to turn on my television for two days.  I was in mourning and quietly fearful on where our country is heading.  Does not the past brutal formation of this country, and then the decimation of another culture through enslavement, now require remedies?  I am afraid that a powerful political majority will disregard the overwhelming evidence that early childhood programs and quality education for everyone forms the basis for a civil society.  Will the incarcerated know compassion and a chance to start over?  Will the right to vote become more cumbersome, and will more arbitrary lines be drawn to favor one ideology?  Can we justify the ever-growing gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of us under the veil of hard work?  Can collective bargaining ever be restored, and will the minimum wage ever be fair?  Will every human being eventually know the right to good medical care?  Is the environment, and the food we eat, in greater jeopardy of more contamination?  And will women, who hold up half the sky, be treated more fairly?  These are some of the things that make me quietly fearful.

The interviewed guest On-Being this week, Joanna Macy – A Wild Love for the World spoke to my distress.  She suggested we be present and fearless with our pain for it eventually reveals our connectedness and love for the world.  I felt common ground with Macy when she told of her growth through the tyranny of her father and subsequently leaving the dogmatic, patriarchal church in which she was raised.  My journey and healing from tyranny is similar to hers and really began in earnest when I was told to “Be not afraid.”  Through Presence, I encountered the grace of multiple Synchronicities on my everyday path.  I gradually learned how to be true to myself and began to understand how profoundly interconnected we are to everyone and all things. 

A Path Appears:  Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunities” is a new book by the same authors of “Half the Sky:  Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” (Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn).  They suggest if we become truly aware of the pain and dysfunction in our world, a path will appear showing how we can be a part of the healing.  I recently listened with keen interest to the audio version of their latest book and their telling of the effectiveness of corporations who take on a humanitarian need as a part of their overall mission.  Corporations have highly skilled people, including effective marketing staff, and can be very successful in promoting and producing needed change in the lives of many.  What would it take to get all of corporate America to take on a humanitarian need as a part of their mission?

What if we all took on a humanitarian need as part of our mission?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Slow Healing

The Mystery within...

Just like slow food cooking is better for you than fast food, I am coming to appreciate the same is true with the slow healing of my knee that I sprained a week ago.  Each day brings a little more mobility, and lessening of pain.  My slower pace allows for more keen observation and reflection.  Even though I really miss being more active, especially outdoors, I have noticed I am less anxious about what isn’t getting done.  I’ve also gotten some help with yard work from my daughter for which I am grateful.  Some ingredients for hanging on to my calm appear to be acceptance for what is, a lowering of expectations for what needs to get done, and becoming more comfortable with needing help. 
The On-Being guest Krista Tippett interviewed this past week was timely for me.  He was Dr. Bessel van der Kolk – Restoring the Body:  Yoga, EMDR, and Treating Trauma.  He is also author of “The Body Keeps the Score.”  He spoke of the importance of the social context in how trauma occurs as being very important because the body holds the memory of those sensate experiences.  My initial knee injury and subsequent surgery was the result of a cross-country skiing accident during a January thaw when I went out to work off some significant frustration.  My left ski caught a patch of mud and I did a 180-degree turn on that knee well over twenty-five years ago.  Could my knee need a talking to about its time to forget?  Or is this just a continuing learning benefit from an initial trauma?  This needs further thought and investigation.

My memoir, “God Never Hurries,” is like a cookbook on slow healing from abuse and the significant challenges in caring for parents.  My troubles have been my greatest teachers because they caused me to search for my truth, which I then found in everyday experiences and the natural world.  I learned it’s a lot easier to stay miserable than to make changes in my life.  I came to see everything as a both/and thing, got a grip on my complicity in my troubles, was infused with courage, and came to know true freedom from forgiveness.  And I am now becoming aware of a growing compassion for the other that knows no bounds.  There may be no end to trauma benefits.  Just going deeper. 

What if we saw our traumas as potentially rich training opportunities?