Friday, October 29, 2010

a prayer

I came across this Franciscan benediction and really liked it.  Not your typical prayer...

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
And turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

destruction & loss

I read a book recently that was essentially a story of destruction and loss.  After finishing, I've spent some time pondering the topic.  Destruction and loss raise the questions: Why do bad things happen?  If there is a God, why does He allow bad things to happen?  As humans, we all each ask ourselves this and each find an answer that satiates our hearts and minds.  I have my own theories, but that's besides the point.  Destruction and loss are facts of life... So how do we deal with them?

With any loss, you lose a piece of yourself or a way in which you used to see and experience the world.  After a loss, you are not the same person and you can never go back.  All you can do is move forward.  When we lose something precious, we tend to want to go back to 'the way things were.'  However, it's cowardly to want to go back.  The brave set fire to the old and continue moving forward.  This costs them great internal suffering, but it's the best way to move onward.  After any loss, it's almost as if a 'new you' is being born.  You can't walk anywhere with one foot stuck in the past.

We must see tragedy as a challenge, not a punishment.  We can decide how to face challenges.  We can only accept punishment.  Our lives are forged by our attitudes.  There are unavoidable things in life.  It's all about how we deal with them.  We have the power of choice.  As humans, we choose (not accept) our fate.  Even if we change how we face loss, it is still painful and that has to be acknowledged.  We can't get rid of the loss of pain, but we can take joy in things won.

The power of destruction comes with learning how to rebuild.  Sometimes it is the only thing that can awaken forces that lie dormant within us.  "Take advantage of the chance tragedy has given you; not everyone is able to do so." -The Fifth Mountain, Paulo Coelho

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the phoenix

Everyone has trials and tribulations at various times in their lives.  That's nothing new.  Most people know this.

This past year has been no exception for me.  I've faced many challenges, and one in particular that really turned me on my head at the time.  The mess took a while to sort out and the deep wounds needed time to heal.  After this particular mess of poor decisions, for the first time in my life I had an incredibly strong sense of regret.  The struggle and the losses seemed to far outweigh any small benefits of the experience that I could see, but now I'm starting to change my mind.  As humans, we make choices.  Our strength lies in the power of our decisions.  They define who we are and our paths in life.

Before and during our trials, it is impossible for us to understand them.  Only after will we know why they came.  I've seen people in my life hold on so tightly to past wounds, decisions, and experiences.  Understanding leads to acceptance, which eventually leads to recovery.  I've been to the bottom of the bottom at several points in my life, and when I'm there, I'm always wondering, 'When will I be restored?'  I'm learning now that I'll always be restored when I learn to rebuild.  Every time I struggle and every moment at the bottom is teaching me and giving me a gift to carry with me into the future.

"Elijah's cries echoed through the valley to return to his ears.
'Thou knowest not whereof thou speakest,' the angel replied.  'There is no tragedy, only the unavoidable.  Everything hath its reason for being: thou needest only distinguish what is temporary from what is lasting.'
'What is temporary?' asked Elijah.
'The unavoidable.'
'And what is lasting?'
'The lessons of the unavoidable.'
Saying this, the angel disappeared."
-Paulo Coelho, The Fifth Mountain

If you wish to rise from the ashes like the phoenix, you need only to learn how to spread your wings...

Friday, October 15, 2010

a song

If I could gift to you a song to tell you where I've been,
I would.
With nothing but rhythm to tell you the story,
And creation's tempo to keep the time.
I'd ask you to close your eyes and touch the wordless lyrics
As the symphony infiltrates your spirit allowing you to see.
With the swinging sounds I'd take you to see the mountain tops and the valleys.
From the beats you'd understand how these memories have been weaved into my soul.
The melody would lift you up and carry you as it carries me onward in my journey.
If you took the time to listen carefully,
The harmony would reveal the elements of my essence.
The moment's movement would melt away the walls I've built and the fears I hold,
So that you could reach down and touch the rhythm of my pulsing of my heart
If that was what you desired to do.
My nakedness would linger until the music ended.
Then when it was finished,
I would thank you for listening.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

find yourself

Are you alive
Is there a young woman hiding inside
Does she know that we're trying to help her
Is she totally frozen with fear
If you let her come out for a day
She might even like it and stay
But it's gonna take you to invite her
Cuz you seem so determined to spite her

Find yourself

There isn't much more I can say
For I don't understand the delay
You're asking for friendly advice
And remaining in permanent crisis
Affection is yours if you ask
But first you must take off your mask
When you're back's turned I've decided I'll throw it away just like I did

Find yourself

-KT Tunstall

Monday, October 11, 2010

percolating thoughts (#3)

['Percolating thoughts' is an on-going collection of quotes I have found and gained wisdom from.  These are the ones that I've recently discovered and that I'm currently sitting with and reflecting on...]

"Let your thoughts release the stone cold
And you'll find the body is younger than the soul."
-Kalai (Listen to the full song)

"Everyone in their lives has holes to fill, and they're even willing to talk about it if you are."
-NPR's Jay Allison

"Examine what is said, not the one who speaks."
-Moroccan Proverb

"We live on a tightrope...  It's because of our belief.  We know that God is there for us, and because He is there we hope He will send angels to catch us if we fall... If the angels do not come, it's because He wants us to hit the ground."
-In Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah

Thursday, October 7, 2010

the perfect heart

A young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it.

But an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said,
“Your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.”

The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. It was beating strongly but full of scars. It had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in … but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. The young man looked at the old man’s heart and laughed.

“You must be joking,” he said. “Compare your heart with mine … mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”

” “Yes,” said the old man, “Yours is perfect looking … but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love….. I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them … and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges.

“ Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away … and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges … giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too … and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?”

The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man.

The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart.

It fit …. but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges.

The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man’s heart flowed into his.

[I originally read this story here.]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Lately I've been reading In Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah.  At one particular point in the book, the author (and main character of the book) recounts receiving an ornate box with a story written on a piece of paper placed inside for his fifth birthday.  Upon receiving the gift, the boy's father says:

"This box is very lovely... You can see the colors, and the work on the sides.  But don't be fooled, Tahir Jan, this box is only the container.  What's held inside is far, far more precious.  One day you will understand." (173)

As I read this, it struck me how people are so much like boxes.  Our bodies are just containers.  The most valuable things are what we hold inside. 

So what do we hold inside our "boxes?"  Our values, our past experiences, our hopes, our hurts, our ambitions, and so on.  Essentially, we are carrying stories, all kinds of stories.  We're constantly deciding which stories we put in, which stories we pull out, and which ones that we want to carry around with us.  I've also been observing in my own life how the things that I choose to carry profoundly affect the way I experience and live my life and others around me.  I need to be aware of what I'm holding in my box.

I think it's difficult for some people to identify what they carry around in their box or they don't like to (or perhaps even want to) think about the contents for whatever reason.  Instead they distract themselves with decorating their box, taking care of others' boxes, doing things that having nothing to do with boxes, etc.  But regardless, we're still affected by their box's contents.

We only get one life.  We should be pickier about what we carry around in our boxes.