Saturday, June 27, 2009

Loving Grace, Living Love

Upon waking, many of us view the the coming day with trepidation.

Because of the natural human tendency to focus on what we fear or dislike, it is easy to unwittingly send a message of unease into the future that negatively impacts the quality of our day ahead. Restless nights spent worrying about what tomorrow holds for us as we stress over financial obligations, health concerns, and world events sets us into a path on unease, uncertainty, fear, and desparation.


Although our lives are busy and frequently replete with challenges, they are also rich with joy and experiences worth savoring. My siblings and I have spent this past week emailing recollections of our childhoods. We have a wooden "Memory Box" for our Mom. In it, we add slips of paper with a fond memory on it. Mom can open the box and read through them whenever she likes, and we can continue to add to it it as we live on. The time will come when we'll gather and read through them together, sharing the love we have. I highly recommend this as a gift to a loved one.

It's nice to have so much clarity when looking back at happy, simple times. It brings a wonderful feeling of foundation and a certain bliss. I find it fascinating that "bliss" is only one vowel away from "bless".

I have a dear friend who emails me daily and always wishes me "Blessings on your day". Such a gift.

We can attract this natural bliss and into our lives by starting each day with a message of loving blessings. When we send love and blessings ahead to our day, that love manifests itself in our personal interactions, our professional endeavors, and our domestic duties.

Tasks and circumstances once made trying by our own anxieties can be transformed by our love, and we can find ourselves approaching life's subtle nuances with great affection.

I suggest that each morning, when we have cast off the fog of sleep, we take several deep, grounding breaths and reaffirm the love we have for ourselves. Think of the good that we do and how we are loved by others, be they spouses, family, friends, or pets. Say it out loud, whisper if you must, but say it with affirmation.

Speaking a loving, self directed blessing aloud enables us to access and awaken the reservoir of tenderness in our souls. Before we leave the comfortable warmth of our beds, we need to be sure to tell God that we are eager and ready to receive the blessings He has set aside for us. Then as we prepare to meet the day, we can visualize ourselves first saturated by and then surrounded with a warm and soft loving light.

This circle of light will soon widen until we unwittingly send it ahead into our day.

That circle of light is made of all those who love us, particularly God and our own selves.

Those of us who commute to work, can send a blessing to the roads upon which we will travel, our fellow commuters, and the geographical location of where we work as well as those who we will interact with. In turn, every single person we interact with, kind or cruel, brings to us a blessing.

If we have colleagues who arrive at our workplace before us, we can send them blessings of love in our hearts. Likewise, a day spent being a parent or addressing household chores can benefit from the sentiment that precedes us. Sending love ahead to everyone we will meet and everything we will do can ensure that our day is suffused with grace. The grace that God has always shared with us and asks that we share with one another.

It can be difficult to send love to those situations and individuals we deem particularly frustrating. However, that is not our call to make. After all, love and grace are each a gift that God has given us as a gift to share, and it each are most beautiful and powerful things.

Consider that the warmth and tenderness we project can change our life for the better as well as the life of the recipient.

If we send this loving grace forward each morning, we will exercise our power to control the ambiance of our existence and color our day with positivity.

If we send this loving grace forward throught our day, we will enforce our ability to have our world around us feel the same warm, encompassig light we awoke with.

If we send this loving grace to sleep with us each evening, we will sleep peacefully, allowing God to cradle us in His loving embrace and face each new day with the knowledge that everything is okay in God's light.

With love & light,


Monday, June 22, 2009

A Stone Soup Weekend

The Wisdom of Sharing

There are many variations on the story of Stone Soup, but they all involve a traveler coming into a town beset by famine.

The inhabitants try to discourage the traveler from staying, fearing he wants them to give him food. They tell him in no uncertain terms that there's no food anywhere to be found. The traveler explains that he doesn't need any food and that, in fact, he was planning to make a soup to share with all of them.

The villagers watch suspiciously as he builds a fire and fills a cauldron with water. With great ceremony, he pulls a stone from a bag, dropping the stone into the pot of water.

He sniffs the brew extravagantly and exclaims how delicious Stone Soup is.

As the villagers begin to show interest, he mentions how good the soup would be with just a little cabbage in it.

A villager brings out a cabbage to share, and this episode repeats itself until the soup has cabbage, carrots, onions, and beets - indeed, a substantial soup that feeds everyone in the village.

This story addresses the human tendency to hoard in times of deprivation, and we are in times of deprivation now, both financially and spiritually.

When resources are scarce, we tend to pull back and put all of our energy into self-preservation. We isolate ourselves and shut out others.

As the story of Stone Soup reveals, in doing so, we often deprive ourselves and everyone else of a feast. This metaphor plays out beyond the realm of food. We tend to hoard our ideas, our love, and our energy, thinking we will be richer if we keep to them to ourselves.

Truth being, however, that we make the world, and ourselves, poorer whenever we greedily stockpile our reserves.

The traveler was able to see that the villagers were holding back, and he had the genius to draw them out and inspire them to give, thus creating a meal that none of them could have created alone.

We have to ask "who is this traveller?".

I travelled this weekend to Holy Cross Monastery with a dear friend who inspires great thoughts in me.

Once again, I learned the greatness of the gift of sharing, and the Benedictine example of doing for others.

Our meals there were beyond comparison. Everyting was plentiful and gracious.

We wanted for nothing at all.

One of our meals was an amazing Curried Chicken Stew, which was well recieved.

One of the Brothers comments that "the chef will be pleased to see an empty bowl".

Are we like the villagers?

Are we holding back?

When we come forward and share our gifts, we inspire others to do the same.

The reward is a banquet that can nourish many.

During the train ride home, I commented to my companion that I must have gained at least 5 pounds from the genorosity of the Brotherhood.

In retrospect, I would say that I gained just shy of triple that ... 14 pounds - one stone, in old English measures.

Of course, that stone that I gained is not in weight, but in love & spirit. I left there with one stone's worth of love to share.

A beloved friend of mine from Mexico City died recently at the tender age of 25.

When I last saw him, he gave me a small blue stone at the airport after calling me back from the gate.

He asked me to keep it in my pocket, as his Grandmother gave it to him when he was a child.

It was for blessings for a safe journey.

Not just a safe journey through the skies, but through life.

I still carry that stone in my pocket.

It painfully reminds me of Miguel, who was full of life and love, but it also serves to remind me of the love that he and we have to share with one another. If not for any other reason, it is to justify his brief being and continue his God given spirit.

We may travel through life with a stone's weight, which is burdensome.

We may even choose to carry a stone in our pocket, or a pebble in our shoe, to remind us of life's burdens.

However, it is when we share that stone, those 14 proverbial pounds in our pocket, that we call others to share in our Soup, and we all become a well nourished community.

Do you see?

Together, we can make Stone Soup.

With love & light,