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.
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.
Today is International day of peace
I should change the name of my blog to “Flower Girl,” because I do love spreading peace. The thing is I want to be taken serious when I talk about it, and the flower girl tends to be looked at…as having no-clue. My brother told me not long ago that I always reminded him of Janis Joplin. I have no idea where he got that impression except I had a tougher edge to me when I was a teen. I needed that in order to survive the world I was thrust into. Maybe he was talking more about the way she looked, I don’t know. What I do know is that when caught between our own right and wrongs sometimes letting go of all the hurt and anger they cause us…opens up a space for peace to come in.
I was with a group of ladies the other day taking a yoga class. At the end, I stayed for a group meditation. In the space of time between yoga and meditation the heaviness of the world events was the subject of talk. One of the ladies asked if we could focus on gratitude. I was thinking to myself how much more attention we put on the things that go wrong rather than the many more things that are still right in our life. The beautiful thing about counting our blessings is that we always find more to be grateful for than all the bad things we place our focus on. Letting go allows the peace to come in and when the peace comes in it gives us a healthier outlook on what we can do to help and make the world a better place. We could all aspire to be a little more like St. Francis who not only said, “Let peace begin with me,” but lived it as an example to all of us.
May you have a peace filled day!
“Being “right” is the easy part. Finding the “rightness” within the opposite point of view is the challenge.” -Barry Johnson “Polarity Management”
I read this quote and thought of all the controversy and rhetoric that so many of us were caught-up in just a month or so ago. I don’t know about you but I’ve taking a step back lately needing to catch my breath and move onto healthier hopeful positive things that bring some goodness back into my life. It’s created some wedges between me and some of the people I care about. I find it’s unfortunate because it’s behind the wall of the internet that so many things have been said, misunderstood, taking out of context and assumed without the advantage and respect of a face to face conversation. Body language and facial expression play a big part in expression our passions. But more than that don’t we owe at least the benefit of the doubt to those we loved and cherished for so many other reasons that go beyond politics?
I looked at the front page of the Lancaster newspaper today. Jeff Hawkes a reporter for the LNP had a perfect article called the “Bridge Tables” to go with the thought provoking quote above. It’s about a way of bringing people of different political views together in a way that they can discuss their differences in a respectful way with nothing between them except the table they sit at. The event is called the Left/Right Café and the premise behind it is to heal America’s political divide. The organizers Eric Sauder and Jamie Beth Schindler’s idea is for liberals and conservatives to come together for a respectful conversation getting past stereotypes and broadening understanding in a safe comfortable environment. Breaking bread and sharing food often has a way of bringing people together in a non- threating way. The hope is to find some understanding and a place of common ground, and from the article it appears that’s what these willing conversations did. It opened each other’s eyes that sometimes what is right to us is not so different from what the other persons believes, but even if it’s not giving one a chance to explain themselves can allow us to better agree to disagree. And who knows maybe we’d learn a fact or two that holds some truth within it giving us a chance to broaden our perspective on beliefs.
For local readers, I’ll pass on that if you want to know more you can contact Jamie Beth Shchindler at LANCoalition@gmail.com
Simplicity, patience and compassion are truly the three treasures I’ve learned to live by.
The lesson in patience came first for me as I was in the midst of raising four children. I asked for prayer from a wise woman, and she told me that when you pray for patience God gives you lots of opportunity to practice it. I was certainly getting lots of practice then, and did learn a great level of patience, but the learning didn’t stop with just that lesson. I found many other areas of my life that patience needed to be mastered, and I am still learning to this day.
I always had compassion for others. It’s a nice quality to have except when you’re always putting everyone else above yourself. The hardest area for me to work on was being compassionate toward myself. It required that I learn to love who I was, and I wasn’t able to do that until I saw myself through God’s eyes. As I became more loving and compassionate with myself, I found I was better able to serve others in a more compassionate way.
Simplicity came into play after years of trying to do everything the way I thought I was supposed to. It was actually in the midst studying the Bible over and again that the very word simplify began popping off the pages. I would always ask the question at the end of my readings, “what is it that you’re trying to teach me today Lord?” Then I would write the answer that came to me in my journal. What I wrote was a dialogue between God and me, what he told me was that I was making things far more difficult than He had created life to be. As I let go of trying to find the answers I was looking for, I found simplicity by trusting in the process. The more I let go the freer I became, and with that freedom came the deepest of understandings in the simplest of ways.
Simplicity, patience and compassion are the ingredients that come from love, and there is nothing more important we can do in life than to do all things through love.
“I’ll be home for Christmas”
You know this familiar song at Christmas time. It congers up all the wonderful comforting feelings that come with retuning “home” again. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things about going away on vacations is at the end when I walk through my front door. “Home!” ET pointed up toward the sky as he longed to find a way back to his planet. “I’ll be home for Christmas” those five words keep playing in my head, but with a different slant upon its meaning. It’s more of a coming back to that from which I’ve come in the spiritual sense.
Symbolically we all eventual leave home like the prodigal son wanting to explore and experience life for ourselves. There is a pull toward “something” unknown, and our need to find out what it is drives us. So we set out on our journey, getting lost along the way many times. Like the prodigal son ,we begin to wonder aimlessly until that longing for “something” leads us back to that from which we came, “home.” But like ET, our desperate need to find a way home looks impossibly. If we listen we can hear those five words playing in our head pointing the way that we long to go, “I’ll be home for Christmas. For it is in coming home for Christmas that we are reminded of why Jesus was born. He came to show us the way back home to where we belong. We all must come to that point when we long to come home once again for Christmas. Upon our return ,we realize what we’d been searching for all along was right here where we left it. What we realize at the time of our return is how necessary the journey away was. For it is only in the leaving that we learn what we had all along, and it is in the retuning that the meaning of “coming home for Christmas” is truly understood.
“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” –Jack Karouac
As I read this quote the first line to the hymn “Blessed Assurance” sang in my head: “This is my story this is my song,” that one day I will find the right words in our human language to describe the simplicity of God that He’s shown me in my own life. We are the ones who make things more difficult than He ever intended them to be, but learning that is a lesson for each of us. Because we are all so different it’s as if we speak another language at times to each other. I’ve learned to accept that. Maybe I’m just not the one who can bring that clarity into their life. That being said, as one who is impelled to inspire, I love finding different ways to express the simplicity as it is reveled to me in my own life. This is my story, this is my song to be an extension touching pen to paper, letting go of ego, being One with God, letting the right words flow as simply as they come.
I have this image in my head that we are all waiting in line at the top of a cliff to look through the same telescope. Half of the people are told what to look for, and the other half are told just to observe what they see before them. After each person is done they stand around talking about what they saw. The ones who were told what to focus on saw only what they looked for, giving them a narrow view. The ones who observed the full view saw all there was to see within the diameter of the telescope. This gave them a greater appreciation, and as they stepped back and looked at the vastness beyond the telescope they saw that there was even more to be seen. Those who had the one thing to focus on couldn’t understand why those who had no restraints didn’t see the importance of the one thing that stood out to them.
My image is different ways of looking at things that form the perceptions we choose to believe. But it goes even deeper than that because there is still a uniqueness in each of us that gives a view that only belongs to us. There is no right or wrong way. What we each see with the openness of our mind, heart and soul is meant to add to the mix of which we are all a part of. It’s like a great recipe with many different ingredients mixed just right to create a tasty dish.
Not everyone is going to like what we see or see what we like. That’s okay, because it challenges us to get the recipe just right. A little bit of bitterness added to the pot can be balanced with a little bit of sweetness. So we can either help one another to see the bigger picture, and sit down to a great concoction of conscious soup or we can remain a one minded ingredient that has nothing to offer but division. The challenge is not to see what someone else says you should look at. We don’t have to agree to see what we can’t see. We simply need to go back and look through the telescope of life with our own eyes open wide. Than we will see what the bigger picture has to offer. Allowing each one of us to make a more informed decision about the things we choose to believe.
So the question we must ask ourselves is: Am I looking only at what everyone else tells me to see or am I looking with my own eyes at what the view has to show me in it’s entirety ?
Attacking the TV, is what I do! Now you have to understand for a dog like me it looks like there’s another world going on inside my own world. I have a strong protective instinct, and sometimes I fear that the animals are going to jump through the window of their world into mine. Or maybe one of the bad guys are going to hurt my Connie. It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. So when I hear the loud sounds of barking dogs, upset people, guns, bombs, storms, and fast cars. I stand at attention with determination like a warrior at the front of the threat. I charge forward, jumping into the air like super dog. I might be a small dog, but I have the spirit of a giant. No matter how much I try though, I can’t figure out how to get inside that other world. The window I see it through doesn’t have an opening. Eventually things settle down inside the land of TV. I walk away and forget about it until the next time. Being fearful over things that aren’t really happening in our own world only causes unnecessary stress and anxiety. I guess there are things that are beyond our understanding. When we spend so much time trying to face what isn’t even ours to face, it’s like trying to get inside a world you don’t belong in. While in the process of it we forget were we are and lose sight of the world we live in right now.
Ok enough of that serious us stuff. I think it’s time to put my super dog bacon cape on and run around the table a few times. Yes I’m feeling good, this super lucky do is on fire. As Buzz Lightyear would say “to infinity and beyond.” Hey…It’s ok to pretend.