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I am not sure why I am thinking now of the time, two years ago, when I was sitting with a hospice patient on Easter Sunday.  We sat in a tiny room in a high-rise apartment building overlooking Lake Erie.  She was tiny and fidgety in an over sized hospital bed, while I sat in a folding chair beside her bookshelf.  From time to time we would hold hands and stare into each other’s eyes.  She was so comfortably familiar to me, and I did not know why until I studied her shelves full of haphazardly placed books.  It was almost identical, book for book, to my own collection of books.  Well-worn volumes of poetry, books on meditation, Buddhism, Catholicism, human rights, saints and mystics and the occasional beloved work of fiction filled the dusty spaces.  I would read to her and watch her eyes light up before she fell into a light doze, only to awaken again for more.  This went on for several hours.  I remember feeling ease and delight sitting next to her, listening to her sporadic breathing.  This was exactly how I wanted to spend my Easter Sunday.  Witnessing the dying process summons a sense of resurrection in me and is a reminder to seek life in every moment.  To find it in the shadows and the light, in the tangible and the abstract.

Hanging on the wall above the head of her bed was a poem I had never seen before entitled Desiderata. Suddenly I knew.  This was not my hospice patient.  She was a messenger.

And I thought on that Easter Sunday in a tiny room by Lake Erie in a folding chair that I was offering  my hands to hold. Instead I realized that she was holding mine.

Desiderata – Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

[Image from here]

What distracts you from using your God Eyes?

Watching this 5 minute video will change the eyes you use to see, at least for today.  It reminds me of a rule that I have learned to live by:  the most important thing to know about a person is what you do not know.

I honor the place in you where Spirit lives.  I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, then we are One.

Namaste.


My daughter loves to look through a book of art by Alex Grey called Sacred Mirrors.  The other day she stared long and hard at the page that features the painting below and ran her hand over the side that represents the agony of the modern world.

“Ohhhhhhhh,” she said on an exhale.  “I better try and fix that.”

Meet Lucy, the chimpanzee in the above photo.  My sister-in-law pointed me in the direction of this podcast of Lucy’s story.  I encourage you to listen:  http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/episodes/2010/04/09.

However, I provide a warning.  If you are the least bit misanthropic, this story will put you over the edge.  A crime was committed against Lucy.  An American couple took her from her mother when she was born and decided to try to raise her as a human.  Of course, this did not work out for them, and they had to return Lucy to the wild where she met a tragic end to her life.  The woman in the photo is not one of those people, she is Janis Carter, an aid who committed her life to making sure Lucy made a safe transition into her final home, Gambia.  Even though Lucy is gone, Janis is still there.

This photo forces us to see something that cannot be learned from any animal experiment or textbook.  It was taken a year before Lucy’s death, right before Lucy was to leave Janis and join a group of chimpanzees.  I have never seen two humans engage in a moment like this.  The photo captures a moment between animal and human, a moment that whispers devotion, forgiveness and surrender.   This is the first time I have seen a photo of God.

I just spent some time staring at this photo of me that was taken during one of  the transitions of a triathlon.  I was trying to determine whether it was T1 (transition 1, swim to bike) or T2 (transition 2, bike to run).  In the photo I am drenched, but this could be lake water or sweat.  What I can’t ignore is that subtle smile on my face.  I recognize it as the realization that my effort and soul took me past doubt, beyond pain, and landed me right at this transition–that place where deciding if there is anything left to give is not even an option.

Sometimes I say things like, “I just killed a man” or “I’ve decided to leave my husband and daughter to become a Vegas stripper” or “I am joining a convent” just so I can hear her say to me,

“I accept that about you and I love you not in spite of it, but because of it.”

 

the hardest thing about having nothing is having nothing to give

Say Yes-by Andrea Gibson

when two violins are placed in a room
if a chord on one violin is struck
the other violin will sound the note
if this is your definition of hope
this is for you
the ones who know how powerful we are
who know we can sound the music in the people around us
simply by playing our own strings
for the ones who sing life into broken wings
open their chests and offer their breath
as wind on a still day when nothing seems to be moving
spare those intent on proving god is dead
for you when your fingers are red
from clutching your heart
so it will beat faster
for the time you mastered the art of giving yourself for the sake of someone else
for the ones who have felt what it is to crush the lies
and lift truth so high the steeples bow to the sky

this is for you

this is also for the people who wake early to watch flowers bloom
who notice the moon at noon on a day when the world
has slapped them in the face with its lack of light
for the mothers who feed their children first
and thirst for nothing when they’re full

this is for women

and for the men who taught me only women bleed with the moon
but there are men who cry when women bleed
men who bleed from women’s wounds
and this is for that moon
on the nights she seems hung by a noose
for the people who cut her loose
and for the people still waiting for the rope to burn
about to learn they have scissors in their hands

this is for the man who showed me
the hardest thing about having nothing
is having nothing to give
who said the only reason to live is to give ourselves away
so this is for the day we’ll quit or jobs and work for something real
we’ll feel for sunshine in the shadows
look for sunrays in the shade
this is for the people who rattle the cage that slave wage built
and for the ones who didn’t know the filth until tonight
but right now are beginning songs that sound something like
people turning their porch lights on and calling the homeless back home

this is for all the shit we own
and for the day we’ll learn how much we have
when we learn to give that shit away
this is for doubt becoming faith
for falling from grace and climbing back up
for trading our silver platters for something that matters
like the gold that shines from our hands when we hold each other

this is for the grandmother who walked a thousand miles on broken glass
to find that single patch of grass to plant a family tree
where the fruit would grow to laugh
for the ones who know the math of war
has always been subtraction
so they live like an action of addition
for you when you give like every star is wishing on you
and for the people still wishing on stars
this is for you too

this is for the times you went through hell so someone else wouldn’t have to
for the time you taught a 14 year old girl she was powerful
this is for the time you taught a 14 year old boy he was beautiful
for the radical anarchist asking a republican to dance
cause what’s the chance of everyone moving from right to left
if the only moves they see are NBC and CBS
this is for the no becoming yes
for scars becoming breath
for saying i love you to people who will never say it to us
for scraping away the rust and remembering how to shine
for the dime you gave away when you didn’t have a penny
for the many beautiful things we do
for every song we’ve ever sung
for refusing to believe in miracles
because miracles are the impossible coming true
and everything is possible

this is for the possibility that guides us
and for the possibilities still waiting to sing
and spread their wings inside us
cause tonight saturn is on his knees
proposing with all of his ten thousand rings
that whatever song we’ve been singing we sing even more
the world needs us right now more than it ever has before
pull all your strings
play every chord
if you’re writing letters to the prisoners
start tearing down the bars
if you’re handing our flashlights in the dark
start handing our stars
never go a second hushing the percussion of your heart
play loud
play like you know the clouds have left too many people cold and broken
and you’re their last chance for sun
play like there’s no time for hoping brighter days will come
play like the apocalypse is only 4…3…2
but you have a drum in your chest that could save us
you have a song like a breath that could raise us
like the sunrise into a dark sky that cries to be blue
play like you know we won’t survive if you don’t
but we will if you do
play like saturn is on his knees
proposing with all of his ten thousand rings
that we give every single breath
this is for sayingyes

this is for sayingyes