We Were Made For These Time

My friend, Barb, posted this on Facebook and after going to the original I decided to use it as a blog post. We don’t have any control over when or where we are born, but we do have control over how we use our personal strengths to touch the world and the people within it. It is up to each of us to determine the ways in which we can fulfill our purpose for being made for these time.

I hope you find meaning in the words written for these times by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

 My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

By Clarissa Pinkola Estes

American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

Quiet and Disquiet

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I’m wanting a quiet day – maybe a day to process all that has happened with the U.S. election. JB has asked a couple of times if I’m okay and I tell him I am. I know I am, although I feel a sense of disquiet. Maybe it is because my country is in turmoil and I like closure. I was looking forward to election day because I thought it would bring closure – but instead I find myself at the beginning of a long unknown.

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I have felt a need to write, because writing clarifies and expands my understanding while also bringing a sense of healing when my heart is unsettled. But writing is hard work – and my energy has been low while my chronic pain is annoying. Fatigue and pain create a foggy mist through which I see dimly. Life seems strange right now.

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For now I am finding joy in sharing some of the strangely beautiful orchids I found on my first visit of the season to the Naples Botanical Gardens on Tuesday. I am finding peace in enjoying all that is beautiful, all that is good and right. I find comfort in the ticking of the clock, the rising and setting sun, the rhythms of life. I was lifted up by the beautiful sound of 100 well-trained voices of the Naples Philharmonic Youth Chorus on Sunday. Yes, life is a miracle.

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Yes, I can fill the disquiet with the quiet of all that is beautiful and honest. I can respond with integrity and humility as I love others as I have been loved. In a world that so often seems loud and brash, I enjoy reaching out and being touched with gentle love.

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I will turn away from the disquiet of revenge, hate and anger, instead finding quiet peace within the teachings of my faith.

Spiritual Time with a Camera

Julie and I went on a photo shoot last Friday morning – a beautiful morning with low temperatures, cool breeze, and a blue sky. Because it is just after the Summer Equinox, we got an early start – but not early enough to get that magical morning light.

That didn’t bother us much as we set out to the southwest of where we live, south of Homer where there are Amish farms and a couple of good bakeries. If I am honest with myself and you, I will have to admit that we had a bakery in mind that directed our drive as much as our search for interesting subjects.

Decisions were made at each corner depending on what would move us towards the bakery and whether the road was gravel. We have a preference for dirt roads that we can drive slowly, watching for something to pull us over or just because it brings peace to slow down. And we talk about small stuff and important matters; we trust each other.

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We made a few stops, but nothing really exciting. And we found the Amish bakery, buying some goods to take home and a cinnamon roll to eat. We took some photos that will be featured in another post, but didn’t take the best photos because of the wish of the Amish to not be photographed.

After enjoying the roll, we hit the road again but by then the sun was really high in the sky and time was running out as Julie had an appointment in the afternoon. We had yet to find that special place where time stands still, we stop talking, and beauty is evident in everything. I was already looking forward to our next outing. We decided to head for home.

Then the dirt road to the right, with the sign warning of “road closed ahead,” beckoned us. There wasn’t much on it but it kept getting narrower and narrower, and very hilly and curvy. I could feel my excitement build as it does when I experience a new adventure. Just around that next bend would be something to excite our photographic eye. And we came to the end of the road – with a turnaround. That was it. I started back.

We went up the curvy, steep hill and there on our left side were some day lilies and soon-to-be-ripe berries. Not exciting but still they seemed like a good reason to pull over.

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Without speaking we picked up our cameras and moved into our own world, into our personal sacred space. The birds sang to me while the breeze cooled my sun-dappled skin. I saw things that I normally would have ignored. But in this place and time they revealed the beauty of their existence. I almost captured it with my camera – but the beauty of existence can be elusive.

I love what I did capture, and look forward to finding another sacred place on our next outing. I look forward to finding another place where God and I can be together without words and I can see if I can come closer to capturing Her beauty.

What Will We Do in Our Tomorrows?

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Sunday I celebrated the Christian religious holiday of Easter. This is our most important religious day – the foundation of our faith. What I ponder today, one of the tomorrows after Easter,  is how does my belief in the death of Jesus for my sins and His resurrection to sit on the right side of God impact how I choose to live in my tomorrows?

What I ponder today should be relevant for all faiths. Passover will be celebrated in April by those who practice the Jewish faith and I would be interested in knowing what the celebration of God freeing the Jews from bondage in Egypt means for their life choices during  their tomorrows. I’m not familiar with the faith defining events of Islam – maybe some of my Muslim readers will tell my what they are. And whatever they are, do they make a difference in who you are and how you choose to live your life? Not everyone believes in a big-G but they still have little-g gods. No matter who this god is (maybe money, status, fame, power) or where this god exists (nature, humans), what does it mean for how you chart your future and what will be said of you when you leave this existence. Will you be remembered as a good person? Will you leave your community a better place?

I am pondering these questions. Sometimes my environment brings out the worst in me. As JB and I are dealing with several stressful circumstances, like condo politics and U.S. politics and church politics, we can sometimes feel ourselves wanting to get revenge. Sometimes we want to see bad things happen to people we perceive as bad. Sometimes we have a hard time figuring out who is the bad guy and who isn’t and sometimes we come across people who seem just plain evil. Sometimes they seem misguided because they don’t think like me and I know I’m right – right?

JB and I were driving from an Easter service that nurtured our spiritual growth to our usual breakfast at Blueberries and JB said he had made a decision. He said that he has decided that he is not going to let the bad behavior of the people around us impact on who he is as a person. He is going to strive to be the best person he can possibly be (and he is a really good person). I am with him all the way.

We had been struggling with how to be good people. When one or the other had slipped into fantasies of how to get even, of the bad things we would like to do to bad people, the other would act as a balance, a voice of kindness. Maybe speaking our fantasies was a way of purging the anger from our bodies, although I still kicked a fallen pine cone onto their side of the yard. That will show them!

We will continue to be kind and friendly to those who do wrong, but will not allow them to enter our lives enough to influence us to do wrong. We will live to be an example of what is good and right and just. We will surround ourselves with what is nurturing to our kinder, gentler side, like good people, wholesome entertainment and healthy food. We will seek out the beauty of the world and rejoice in it. Our faith has taught us that we should allow the love and grace of our God to shine through us. We believe that the death of Jesus gives us a new beginning so we can shine into all of our tomorrows. And we are confident that God will walk beside us to help us.

And what comes to mind is the commandment that we share with our Jewish friends – from Micah in the Old Testament of the Bible:

“He has shown you, oh [people], what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  (New International Version)

No matter what God we believe in or where we look to for the values that shape our choices, I think that these words would serve us well as we come around the table to solve our world’s problems and live in peace with our neighbors.

(This post is linked to the WordPress’s  The Daily Post with the prompt of Perspective. Check out Ben’s interesting post.)