“The Freedom to Be Me”
America, the land of the free. Who wouldn’t want to live in a country where they could say, “I’m free to be me?” Is that not why our own ancestors came to this country in the first place? To live their lives in a way that would fulfill their potential and personal calling from God? But freedom is not merely entitled to those who come to America. The source of freedom was given to us by God from the very beginning when he created us in likeness. He taught and continues to guide us through his example. That through our thoughts, words, and actions we create the world we live in, the country, the family all the way down to ourselves. Freedom is not just a word. It is nothing without choice. That choice is like the stone you toss into the still waters, it creates a ripple effect and touches everything around you. So, while the freedom to be me is a beautiful God-given gift. It also comes with a great responsibility not just to the people around me but to this great big wonderful world I live in. The real power of freedom begins with you and me right where we find ourselves…now. So, on this special day of freedom and independence maybe we could all take a moment to pause and ask ourselves, am I adding to the better-good of all through my thoughts words and actions? Or could I make a new commitment on this 4th of July to do the best I can to forgive and love one another as God first loved us? I’m in! How about you?
I went to great length on Sunday to plan out my week. It’s the only way I can get the things I want done. I got up as planned and wrote for two hours. Got dressed so I could walk Lucy after I ate. While I was making my smoothie, it splattered all over me and the kitchen. I stood there; you know the way you do when time stands still, and you’re not sure if you want to scream or cry. I remembered how it was when my kids were little, and they’d drop milk on the floor all the time. I came to repeat the quote “That there’s no use in crying over spilled milk.” What’s done is done, and the only thing left to do is clean it up. As I was eating, I remembered a quote I read the other day. “Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” -St Francis de Sales
As I headed out the door to walk Lucy, I ran into my neighbor. She has a one year and is expecting her second child. The baby she’s carrying has some severe problems that will require surgeries as soon as it’s born. She and her husband have a lot of faith, and they’re trusting in God’s will. Instead of going on about herself she wanted to know how I was doing. She is living the words of St. Francis de Sales. She wasn’t going to let anything take her inner peace away, and yet she has every right to feel as if her whole world is upset.
As I proceed to walk on with Lucy, I thought how the unplanned things find a way of eating up our time. My well-planned morning wasn’t going as I’d anticipated. Yet, it’s those unforeseen things that remind us what’s important. That where we find ourselves is often where we’re supposed to be and what matters is being mindful of what those moments have to teach us. It’s in the space between the moments that we catch a glimpse of God. And grace fills us from our head to our toes with its everlasting peace. It’s where we find our caring heart too that makes us want to reach out and ask, what can I do for my neighbor today?
“‘A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make a new tree.”-Amelia Earhart
What a beautiful thought and visual of what one act of kindness can create. But it takes a moment of deep contemplation to see the vastness of its growth and potential.
On the other side of this is the act of meanness. A single act of meanness throws out roots in all directions as well, and the roots spring up and make a new tree.
The roots begin with the seeds of our daily thoughts. Those thoughts start from the moment we awaken each morning. That’s why it’s so important to take a few moments to reconnect with that beautiful source of Divinity (God) that exist within each of us. We have to act quickly because the ego often gets in the way first. And before we know it we’re in automatic mood going through our day never taking the time to think about the seeds we’re planting, and the roots were spreading along the way.
We have to keep in mind that if we want a better world, it has to begin with every action we take. If you don’t know where to start, then join me with one simply act of kindness today. Think of all the beautiful trees we’ll grow together.
My soul reminds me today that there is a power within me that is greater than anything that life brings my way. It is the place of being where I stand with the lemons of life in my hands…and choice enters in. I can choose the limited sour bitterness it creates. Or let the sweetness of the spirit within teach me how to turn lemons into lemon aid.
”The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.”-Ram Dass
What if the rosebud remained tightly folded within itself? Can you feel the tension of its resistance. It’s like it’s going against itself. All the energy it uses to hold itself back weakens and destroys it before it ever has the chance to know the full blossom of its purpose.
I was reading a wonderful article in my “Country Garden” magazine by Margaret Roach called “Sparrows.”
It wasn’t the particular title that caught my eye although I do love sparrows. It was the quote she wrote below it: “A busy life with a long to-do-list means some of the smallest things go unnoticed–but those small things can teach us big lessons.”
Sometimes I can’t even get to the task at hand because I’m too busy putting things on my to-do-list. Then onto the business of figuring out how I’m going to get them all done.
She goes on in the article to say; “If I could only slow down and be still someday, I’d (—-fill in the blank).” And I’m thinking to myself, I’m retired. I don’t have to do this or that if I don’t really want to. As a matter of fact I’m the one who writes about being in the moment all the time.
Sometimes having a snowy day where we can’t do much of anything else gives us the opportunity to slow down and ask ourselves that very question, what could I do?
I picked my magazine up because I’d been wanting to read it for a while. I opened it to this article first thing, and in this small gesture I got a reminder lesson on the more important things in life. All we have exist within our untamed moments, and if we’re too busy cluttering our thoughts with things to do later, we miss out on what life has to show and offer us…in the now.
Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” -Pema Chodron
I love painting pictures with my words. It starts when I’m trying to figure something out. I visualize what I’m thinking in an animated or metaphoric way that helps me make sense of it. So, what is my carpet bag of baggage?
It’s a rug big enough to fit all the stuff I’ve collect along the various journeys of my-life. It’s an ugly carpet, full of untruths, most of them having to do with my self-esteem. It’s all tied together with the black rope of fear. I’m so used to carrying it around that I don’t even feel how much it’s weighing me down most of the time. It’s in those moments when I’m paying attention to life that it falls off my shoulder. It’s a wonderful feeling as if I’ve sucked in some helium and I’m floating right above the ground. And I wonder why it can’t be like this all the time.
When the black rope of fear sees me happy it starts to untie itself around the carpet. Moving like a snake. Fear knows I’m afraid of snakes. It’s the way it gets my attention. As the carpet bag begins to slowly open all the dreadful demeaning voices jump around shouting me, me, me pick me. All it takes is for me to believe one demeaning thought of worthiness, and I’ll find myself standing upon the rug that fear uses, to pull the joy right out from under me.
But I’m seeing a little clearer now. They say, you have to see what needs changed, before you can change it. As the quote says about, “nothing goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” I’m learning one thing for sure, that as big as fear looks, what lies on the other side of it is majestic.
Today I went back to place I lived in Philadelphia. I haven’t seen since the day I ran away in 1968. That’s 50 years ago. It was an institution in Philadelphia called Stenton Child Center. My younger sister and I were supposed to feel fortunate that we were in such a nice place. Most of the places the state provided for abandon children were pretty run down. There is no place on earth that could be better than being with your own family no matter how difficult things are at home.
I didn’t know how I would react when I actually saw it. As we began to approach I felt only a moment panic, that quickly turned to curiosity. I couldn’t believe how much it looked the same after all these years. The memories so fresh in my mind and stories yet to tell. I couldn’t go inside because it’s now a shelter for homeless families, but I was okay with that because I felt like the monster it represented in my mind for so many years no longer had a hold on me.
On my way home I wondered about how this applies to what I wrote about yesterday in relation to place of shifting I find myself. Of all the different places I’ve been, this was by far the worst ground I’d ever worked in my life. But it’s also yielded the most growth in my life. It was a time of planting, growing, and nurturing. It was full of many cultivating opportunities that could have yielded many weeds, but instead continues to teach and bear much fruit.
I am not only in the winter of the season, but nature teaches another lesson in my life, that I am in the winter of my shifting cultivation. A time to rest, re-evaluate, contemplate, let go and chill out on a icebergs going with the rivers flow.
“It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”
-William Ernest Henley, “Invictus”
And God is the compass that points the way.
It’s up to me
which way I sail,
Which way I go
Is where I’ll be.
Sometimes I feel
Alone at sea.
Inside of me.
I look for an answer
A narrow telescope.
There is nothing in sight
But a seagull
Why do I forget
Its easy to see.
It can’t get lost,
For its inside of me.
I am after all
Of my soul,
But it’s the compass
That shows me
Way to go.
Sometimes life becomes as twisted as a vine. The tighter it wraps itself around one circumstance after the other it becomes hard to breath. Hard to understand. Hard to think. The desperation to reach and cling, and climb brings us to a standstill. In this place of resting we find the breath of life, and clarity begins to set in. We quench our thirst from a drop of the ocean, and we begin to see that we are a part of something much bigger then ourselves. We begin to feel the need for expression going deeper within where we feed on the nourishment we’ve collected along the way. In the process, we become a bud growing within instead of out. The need to express what we are becoming grows ever stronger until in the mist of all our twisted vines what we were created to be burst forth in all our beauty and glory.
We can become who we were created to be if we stop twisting ourselves up knots. If we stop fighting against ourselves and others. If we stop to listen to the voice…not calling in the wind…but the one that comes from within longing to be expressed through…you…and…me.