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Perfect Brightness

11 Nov

During times in our lives when we really want something to happen or desperately want something not to come, we may feel hope. We don’t know what will happen and we want things to go our way. Hope is trust that our expectations will be met. It’s a feeling of anticipation that all will go well. Because we can’t read the future and there is no way to predict what others will do, we often have no idea what lies ahead. But we know how we want things to go and we hope they will be realized. Having hope is like having a float in the ocean. It can’t pull us out of the deep water but it can hold us up while we wait. Hope is the cushion that helps us through difficulty and we can hold fast to it and keep it bright even if our situation worsens. We may experience many difficult days as we navigate our lives. There may situations that confound and confuse us, desperate times when we’re terrified of what may come, or unsettling complications that make us lose our footing. No matter what comes to us or what we have to face, we can always have hope. We are stronger than we think we are and in every situation, the outcome we want is possible. Having a perfect brightness of hope – understanding we will not give up – will help us through.

We may face situations that seem insurmountable. We may feel beset by those around us and struggle to find our way. We might face extraordinary difficulty that makes us question our ability to survive, or makes us feel there is no reason to try. But in every situation, no matter how complex and hard, there is a solution. There is always a way out. We can look at the situation objectively, take time to catch our breath, and find the path that will move us forward and through whatever has captured us at the moment. Life can get complicated, and we may get lost for a time. But we have everything we need to find our way again, and we can trust our instincts and abilities to lead the way.

Hopelessness is the belief that a situation cannot change. If we are convinced that we are sunk, that we have been conquered and there is no way to escape, we may experience hopelessness. It is possible that we may face a situation so egregious and complex there is no way through, and we might face something we truly cannot change. In those moments, we can seek understanding and find a way to cope with the changes we may experience. Once we completely understand our situation hopelessness will be replaced with knowledge. And once we have the knowledge we need to face what is happening we will find the path forward. There isn’t anything we can’t do and nothing we can’t face. We are capable and smart and can accept anything that comes to us.

Today if you’re facing a situation and are hoping it will go your way, plan your steps forward carefully. There isn’t anything you can’t do. If things go awry and you must alter your course, you will do it well. You have all the courage you need to face anything that comes. Keep walking forward. The road is long and you will succeed.

Always There

2 Aug

Nobody gets a perfect life where everything always goes right and each day is happy. There is conflict and struggle around us all the time. Sometimes our days are easy and go well, and other times they are heavy and difficult. There are times of trial and disappointment, sadness, sorrow, and pain. It’s a normal part of our experience here. When we’re trying to overcome something and life seems bleak, and when we feel our hope is fading and we aren’t sure we can survive, we can still find happiness. Peace is possible even when our circumstance isn’t peaceful. There is joy even when our lives are not joyful, and we can find hope even when it feels hopeless. Tomorrow will come and each day brings with it something new. Nothing stays the same forever. We have reserves of peace and joy and hope within us. Even in our darkest hours, we can find our way. There is greatness inside us and it carries with it everything we need to move forward no matter what is in our way. There isn’t anything we can’t do, and we can do it with confidence.

It would be nice if we could count on every day going well. It would be heaven on earth if trouble didn’t darken our path and sorrow never showed its face. But this life is filled with all kinds of problems. Although we don’t want trials to come to us, they will and when they do we will find our way through them. If they are extremely difficult we may struggle and feel overwhelmed. For a time, we may even believe we can’t survive them. But there really isn’t anything too strong or difficult for us to face. It may seem bleak, it may seem impossible, and we may struggle to find our way. The storm may rage but no storm lasts forever. In time, things will change. We’ll find our footing and the right road to walk. And once the problem is behind us we’ll have more experience and knowledge going forward.

Finding joy when our world is falling apart is possible. We can find it in small things – the blue sky, the sound of waves crashing on the shore, birdsong, the smell of baking bread or a thousand other things that lighten our load. Joy is always there waiting for us to embrace it. We can give it to ourselves and find peace even in trouble. Taking a moment for respite and seeking happiness when things are going wrong may not diminish the struggle, but it will make it easier to manage. Whatever is happening won’t last forever, it won’t destroy us, and we will prevail. Whatever we’re going through is just a bump in the road. It might be a big bump that takes time to get around or climb over, but in the end it’s just a bump. We are capable of facing anything and managing it well. We can find peace, and joy, and happiness. It’s already there inside us. We need only look inward and allow it to shine.

Today if you’re going through a difficult trial and you feel overcome, reach inside and find respite. You can do anything. This will not defeat you. You have everything you need to manage this well. You are strong and capable, and you deserve every happiness. Dig deep. Your joy is there.

Split Second

24 Jun

Some years ago during the summer, I was in Alaska, and had gone on a fishing charter in Cook Inlet. Although it was summer, it was cold, and I was dressed in jeans, sweatshirt, coat, and boots. As we were securing the boat to the pier at the end of the trip, it drifted outward, and I reached over the water to grab the line to pull it back. Unfortunately, I lost my balance, and fell into the harbor. The water there in the summer is very cold, and being dressed as I was, I sank like a stone. I immediately began trying to swim, but with everything I was wearing, it was very difficult. As I continued to fall downward I looked up at the surface of the water, and realized that because of how I was dressed, and the temperature of the water, I might lose my life. I remember feeling great regret that I had reached out so far, and risked so much. It was a foolish decision given the weather, and the situation. Thankfully, I was able to get back to the surface, and someone pulled me out. I was severely chilled, and had to get my wet clothes off as soon as possible to prevent hypothermia. It took lots of dry, warm clothes, several cups of hot chocolate, and the rest of the day before the shivering stopped. I was lucky things worked out, but I have never forgotten the lesson. One small decision, and in a split second, everything changed.

Our lives are tentative, and this life is unpredictable. There are no guarantees. We tend to forget this from time to time. We take for granted that we will survive today, and see tomorrow, but nothing is sure. Of course, we can’t worry about all the things that could go wrong or we’d never be able to live normally, so we go through our days counting on them being safe, and successful. But sometimes, things turn, and in an instant, everything changes. We can’t predict anything. What comes, comes. We go through our lives, we have our routines, and activities, and then the unexpected happens. Things get turned upside down, and for a while we lose our footing.

Sometimes unforeseen things happen because of decisions we make, like mine when I fell into the ice cold harbor. Sometimes they happen because of decisions out of our control. Much of what we experience in this life is out of our control, and when things come that topple us, wake us up, and make us realize again that nothing is guaranteed, it can shake us deeply. Our task then is to be as ready as we can, and do our best when things go awry.

Today if you’ve been rattled by something that has unsettled your life, something that has suddenly shaken you, you may be upset but you will get through it. If it’s extraordinarily difficult, reach out for help. Get the support you need to navigate the situation so you can feel as comfortable as possible. Get into your dry clothes, and stay warm. This will last for just a moment, and then things will settle again. You are resilient enough to weather this. Being upside down is uncomfortable, there is no doubt about that. But while you’re struggling to right yourself, you will find the strength you need. You are strong enough for this. You are strong enough for anything.

Trailing Clouds of Glory

11 May

The famous poet William Wordsworth wrote “Ode on Imitations of Immortality…” musing on who we are as people, and where we came from. He wrote:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.

I have often read this poem and pondered it, and the part that captures me every time is “But trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home.” Whatever your religious beliefs are, or even if you don’t have any beliefs about God or an eternal plan, there have probably been times in your life when you have wondered about who we really are, why we are here, and what will happen when we leave here.

Despite what the news and media tell us continually every day, I believe that most people are good. Most of us try hard to do our best, and be our best. Most of us are willing to help others, and most of us are honest. Of course, as has been since the very beginning, there are some who do not care about doing what is right, and there are some who are frankly evil. But I really believe most of us are good.

If Wordsworth is right, and we came to earth from God, whatever you believe that to be, and our lives are but a “sleep and a forgetting,” what does that mean for us? If we were trailing clouds of glory when we came, are they still with us now? Does the glory disappear after we get here? What if the glory is still with us? What if the clouds of glory trailing behind us when we came are still here? And if they are, what does that mean for us? Shouldn’t we be acknowledging them, and living in ways that magnify them?

When I think about the human race – all of us since the very beginning – there seems in us an innate desire to choose well, and to help others. Think about your life, and look back as far as you can remember. Most of your friends and acquaintances probably were not evil. They probably were not wicked, and they probably were basically good. Of course there are unkind people in the world, and those who don’t care about anyone but themselves, but they are, thankfully, not the norm. Perhaps Mr. Wordsworth was right, and we are trailing clouds of glory that attend to us every day, and help us to choose well.

Today perhaps you will consider this. Look around at those you come in contact with, those you work with, those you interact with, and think about them as people. I think you’ll see that most of them are trying to do good things, and are trying to choose well. And if you do see that, let it grow within you, and build your faith in humanity. We are not perfect by a long shot. But I think there is glory in all of us. I think it’s been there since the beginning. I have it and you have it. Embrace it. Let it shine through every day, and remember who you are. “Trailing clouds of glory…” we can be a blessing to everyone around us.

I’m all broken up over it.

27 Apr

I recently dropped a glass on the kitchen floor. The floor is tile so the glass broke into at least a million pieces – at least. I got the broom out, and carefully began to sweep up the dangerous mess, and then I got down on my hands and knees with a wet cloth to make sure I didn’t miss any tiny barbs destined to cut my feet. Broken glass can be tricky. It’s hard to see and very sharp. You have to be careful to get it all picked up or it’ll come back to cut you. And that’s no fun. After it was cleaned up, I reached into the cabinet again for another glass, and it slipped, but thankfully I did not drop that one, which was a great relief.

Bad and unexpected things happen to us sometimes. We aren’t made of glass, but there are times in our lives when we can feel broken by something that’s happened. The pain is too great, the suffering has gone on for too long, or the loss is too painful. We break. Not all the way like a glass on the floor, but enough that we feel like we’re in pieces, and nothing is fitting together. We feel disconnected. We feel untethered. We feel bad.  And sometimes during those fractured times, it’s hard to see how we’ll get it all put back together again. How we’ll clean everything up, and make it work.

There is no set timetable for fixing a break inside of us. It’s not like the six week cast for a broken arm. Every situation, every break is different. Some breaks feel all encompassing and take a lot of time to repair. Others aren’t so intense, and we can bounce back more quickly. But no matter how long it takes, the period during the break hurts. We’re out of sync, and it can feel like we have a flat tire, loping down the road slightly off kilter. The world is off its axis. Everything feels strange, and uncomfortable. We’re not ourselves.

No matter how extensive our breaks are, once we decide we’re going to fix them, they begin to mend. There is a saying that time heals all wounds, and in some ways time is the best medicine for a break. But time is just one part of how we heal.  Attention to the break is needed.  We need to look at it, examine it from different angles, figure out how we got broken to begin with, and determine how we can fix the situation.  It will take some time.  We may get impatient, but even in the impatience, things can move forward.  We can heal.  We will heal.

If you feel broken, if something is out of whack, something is wrong, take a little while to examine the problem. What happened? How can you fix it? How can you heal the break? All the answers are inside you. If you feel lost, seek the help of someone you trust. Listen. Think. Take your time. You’ll figure this out. When we break a bone and it heals, it is stronger than it was before we broke it. We are the same way. Once we fix what is broken inside, we are stronger than before. And being stronger is a great gift. No break is permanent. This will change. You’ll heal and be stronger on the other side.