From my favorite beach place. Wonderful photos from Ft. DeSoto Park, Tierra Verde, FL
From my favorite beach place. Wonderful photos from Ft. DeSoto Park, Tierra Verde, FL
So, are you curled up, warm, cozy, snuggled in and able to find respite from the bitter cold that is gripping so much of the United States right now? Maybe you are lucky enough to be relaxing in front of a fire in the fireplace. Perhaps you have a pet close by. Maybe you just are thrilled that the heat is working, your pipes haven’t frozen and you are inside! So, I have a question.
Where is your “brother”, your “sister” human being that is homeless, sleeping on the street? Where is the family that lives in a car because they have lost everything else? What about the child who ran away from home and is on the street? What about the veteran who finds himself with nothing but the clothes on his/her back? What about the animals? What about all of them…they that have no home, no heavy coat, no warm boots, no safety, no food, no shelter, no caring. There but for the Grace of God goes each of us.
Yes, personal responsibility enters into the equation. Choices, decisions, beliefs all help shape who we are and who we become. However, sometimes bad things happen and we have to deal. That could mean someone spent 10, 20, 30, 40 years as contributing members of society only to find themselves down and out today.
Lately I’ve been questioning myself about who I really am…on a deep basic level. On one hand, I know I’m a good person, thoughtful, kind, caring, compassionate. On the other, I realize that I have judgements, opinions, beliefs that serve me and serve to keep me feeling safe.
Due to a debilitating, chronic illness, I came dangerously close to being one of those homeless souls. So, on one hand, I find myself very compassionate about the plight of those out there tonight, worried about them, caring what happens…all from the safety of my warm home. On the other hand, I shy away from thinking about it too deeply because it is so scary to me. I remember the panic of wondering what I was going to do…how I was going to live, where I was going to live, how, how, how. I know they, too, have felt that at some point, probably in the not-to-distant past. Many may have moved beyond that to the point of numbness and one foot in front of the other…survival.
I want to ask each of you to really think about this. I have. I want to say I don’t know what to do, but I also recognize that I have to do something. I have to honor that we are all one…human beings having an experience on this planet at this time. What are we doing to really SEE each other? I can’t feed and clothe every homeless person, fight all the ugliness in the world, save every frozen pet. But I must do something to acknowledge and honor them as fellow humans…even if they aren’t very nice ones. Tonight, what I know to do is to share my thoughts and feelings so that hopefully I can make others think and, more importantly, look into their own hearts and ask some of the hard questions. What are you doing to really see these souls?
A preface… I have never personally written for this blog, although it is mine. I usually just post things that are of interest and uplifting. Actually, I haven’t posted much in the past year. However, I feel compelled to share, as I was so deeply impacted by this experience. We each matter, and we each have the capacity, the opportunity…dare I say, the obligation…to positively impact others’ lives…every day. So, with trepidation I am sharing.
I was deeply impacted by an experience I had when I went to see my two granddaughters in their preschool Christmas program. The program was in the church sanctuary, which is a large, light, airy and sacred space. The children were all so pure, joyful and beautiful. They sang their hearts out…all the songs we love to hear. My older granddaughter was one of the nine ladies dancing, and later she was an angel with a halo. My younger granddaughter was sort of singing, but she really was much more fascinated with the large group of parents, grandparents, families and friends that were gathered to celebrate. She was waving, smiling and picking her nose.
The pure innocence of these 50 or so preschool children was palpable. Their joy, pride in themselves, pleasure in the experience, and pleasure in just being was quite evident. They were having so much fun…totally enjoying the present moment.
As the singing portion of the program ended, a woman stood up and read a story from a book written by news legend, Walter Cronkite. It was about British and German soldiers fighting bitter battles in the winter of 1914 during World War I. On Christmas Eve, they declared a ceasefire, buried their dead, cared for their wounded, and then, in the cold damp of the night, made a fire and joined forces to sing and pray together to celebrate Christmas. After they celebrated, they returned to their respective camps. The day after Christmas, the battle and carnage resumed.
I had tears streaming down my face. The horror and humanity of the scene painted in this true war story created such a vivid contrast. The story, related with the backdrop of the innocence shining from all of the children behind the speaker, left me stunned. All I could ask myself was “what is wrong with us, with our society, that we take this purity and innocence and in 20 years have them killing each other?”
After the speaker finished reading, she introduced a Navy fighter pilot who came forward and spoke to us. He was the father of two of the preschool boys on stage. He had literally just returned from a tour of duty in the Afghan-Pakistan war. His first words were “two weeks ago today, I was flying a combat mission over Afghanistan.” In my mind, he was immediately superimposed over the soldiers of the World War I story. He was young, strong, handsome, virile, confident, courageous, brave. Two weeks ago he was doing his duty and his job as a combat fighter pilot over Afghanistan, and today he was bathed in the innocence of children…two of them his. What a powerful contrast.
It must be so difficult to transition from a combat mindset to suddenly being enveloped in the purity of the children, the ordinary Christmas Season hubbub of everyone around him. So many soldiers are forced to live within that contrast, just as this pilot is. He thanked everyone for all the packages they had sent to him and his shipmates. He spoke about the importance of the connection with home and the love and caring that came with that. I could see that he strongly believes in his duty and his job. I also knew that his job is only a part of who he is, that he is a man who is loved and cherished. I am certain of that because my daughter knows his family.
All I could feel was the craziness of it. I was overwhelmed with sadness and the fear that humanity could not change the harshness of the world. Yet, from somewhere inside of me, came the realization that each of us can contribute to a change. We can shine and focus our Gifts more brightly, with more awareness…the Gift that is expressed as noticing, acknowledging, accepting, caring, concern, smiles, lending an ear, opening a door, helping with a package, being there for someone in need, compassion, attention, time, presence. We have each been given access to a huge repertoire of these true Gifts, which can only be appreciated when we share them with others. I would quickly have an opportunity to see this in action.
After the program, I stopped at McDonald’s to use their bathroom and to get some water. As I was leaving, a woman approached the exit at the same time. I stopped, smiled, put my hand out and said “Go ahead,” motioning her on. She whipped around and almost shouted at me, “Why are you being so nice?” I was taken aback and couldn’t think of what to say. Finally, with a smile, I said “I like the way it feels when people are nice to me, so I try to be nice to others.” She just stared at me a moment, then said, “Even your smile makes me feel good.” With that, she turned and walked out the door.
In retrospect, with that interaction, I truly felt Spirit (or whatever you choose to call the Greater Presence) demonstrated the power of Heart and Connection. I was innately guided in contributing to change–change that can move us from the paradigm of fear, isolation, indifference, hatred and war to one that honors each of us as individuals. Each of us are all part of the same whole…the human race and inhabitants of the planet Earth. We all contribute when we use these Gifts.
So, now that the frenzy of the holidays is almost behind us, I urge you to remember these oh-so-important Gifts and to share them with loved ones and strangers alike. We all want to feel loved, to be recognized, to matter. Carry an intention forward into this New Year to use the opportunities we are given every day to touch another’s life in a positive way.
Many Blessings, Nancy
Watch these amazing children. This gives me great hope for the future.
Our beautiful planet and her inhabitants. These two videos give an inspiring view of each.
A remarkable discussion. I highly recommend it.
I am at a very exciting place in my life…a fresh start…a time of profound transformation. I’m beginning my first 2013 blog with miscellaneous articles that caught my interest. Many Blessings.
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