Celebrating the Connections

DSC_7758

Recently I had the privilege and honor of being inducted along with my girl’s basketball teammates into my high school athletic hall of fame. Now you may be thinking “what’s the big deal?” and, frankly, a part of me felt the same way going into this event.   But now, having seen my teammates from nearly 40 years ago, and heard the speeches of the other inductees, the importance of this event in my life has been profound.

I have been overwhelmed lately by feelings of isolation. Isolated because I’m single. Isolated because of my job that consumes so much of my time and energy.  Isolated because, well, sometimes I just need to be alone and away from the busyness of life. It’s not a bad thing to be alone, and one can often find renewal in solitude and quiet. But when isolation leads to the destruction of connections to loved ones and to those who are and have been a part of our lives, it can deeply affect one’s feelings of connection to the universe.  A sense of purpose can be lost.

The decades that have elapsed since the last basket was made have in no way destroyed the memories of that time.   Seeing my former teammates for the first time in many years could have been awkward. We have all gone our separate ways, and most do not keep in touch, except through Facebook, but even then what do we really have in common? Our lives are vastly different now than they were when we were teenagers.   Yes, seeing them could have been awkward, but it wasn’t. We hugged, talked, cried and laughed as though those decades that had passed were mere minutes.   The shared experiences that we lived through as teenagers created lifelong connections that lay dormant in my memory until I stepped through the door to the auditorium.

Reflecting on my emotions of that evening, I realized that we are forever connected to those who cross our path. Separation by time, distance or even death does not destroy the connection. The connection lies in our memories and, more importantly, in our hearts.   If we simply allow them to come forth, we can celebrate them for how they have enriched our lives.

 

 

Beauty Survives the Storm

img_0413

Over the past several days, northern California has been pummeled with heavy rain and wind. Streets are littered with tree branches and other remnants of vegetation unable to withstand the battering winds. Swollen creeks and overloaded storm drains leave behind mud and debris. All in all, it’s been a mess, however much needed in our parched State.

During a short break between storms, I ventured outside to breathe in some fresh, rain-washed air and to survey the damage to my back yard. After what seemed like non-stop rain and winds for the past several days, the first thing I noticed was the stillness. Not even a breath of wind stirred the rain-soaked earth and what remained of the bare trees. Taking in this wonderful stillness, amidst the dormancy of winter, I observed a single brilliant rose, perfectly formed, still holding the raindrops that had doused its petals.   A rose, still beautiful, even after the storm.

Light

dsc_7617_1024

As 2016 comes to a close, I have found myself doing what many do this time of year. Christmas is over, and a new year approaches, along with new possibilities, new chances to better ourselves, and a renewed hope for the coming year.

For many, myself included, 2016 has been a tough year.   For me, perhaps the hardest part of this year has been realizing more than ever that there remains a lot of darkness in our world. From the massacre in a Christmas market in Germany to the refugee crisis in Aleppo, to our own presidential election, this year has seen a lot of hate, vitriol, exclusion and oppression.   Focusing on these events, and the people at the center of them, is a recipe for cynicism and fear.

Imagine you’re in a dark room, not knowing where to turn to find your way. Suddenly, you see a small light. What do you do? You head toward that light.

I am determined to not become consumed with the darkness. Darkness manifests itself in so many sinister ways, that we often do not realize it has become such an integral part of our being.   We yell at the person driving 50 mph on the freeway, only to pass by and see someone’s grandmother on her way to church. We gossip about the coworker who is unproductive and unreliable, only to find out that she struggles with addiction. We fail to acknowledge the young man who proudly holds open a door for us because we are too busy with our own life to actually see and appreciate the people around us.

Knowing that the smallest of flames can break through utter darkness, I intend to not only move toward the light in this world, but to be a light for those searching in the darkness.   I intend to treat people with kindness, love, appreciation and forgiveness. My hope is that if one person finds light in my presence, then they will, themselves, become a light for another. As the light grows, there can be no more darkness.

Attracting Good

dsc_7730

Wisdom traditions teach that we attract what we put out into the Universe.   I have, in the past, been somewhat skeptical of the Law of Attraction, simply because it never seemed to really work for me.   I consider myself a good person, with generally no malice or ill will toward people.   I help those in need.  I am honest and hardworking.   Still, it didn’t seem as though I was receiving the blessings or abundance that the Universe promised.

On the other side of the coin, I know people who have done wrong, and seem to come out smelling like a rose.   A woman has an affair with her best friend’s husband, breaks up his family, but by all appearances is happy and in love with that man as they plan their future together. Another cheats his employer and comes out financially secure.  It’s not that bad things happen in my life.  Believe me, I recognize that I am not perfect, and still am blessed beyond measure.  It just seems that sometimes, it appears that cheaters do prosper, and those who strive to be honest, and do right by themselves and those around them, get left behind.

What I have come to realize, however, is that my path is my path, just as your path is yours. The mistresses, cheaters and liars of the world have their path. Those who live a life of goodness, honesty and giving have their path. I have learned that when our paths cross, it is up to me to forgive them, help them if I can, and send them on their way with a blessing, all the while remaining on my path. The Universe will deal with them as the Universe will, just as the Universe will deal with me as It will.

When we focus on the paths of others, we miss out on the beauty of our own.

It is not our responsibility to judge others’ actions. We may be hurt or betrayed by them, but that hurt and betrayal need not define who we are, nor should it distract us from who we are. Good has come to us. Good will continue to come to us. We just have to stay on the course of our true, good self.

 

Answered Prayer

Have you ever felt as though God does not hear your prayers? Jesus says “ask and it shall be given to you.”  So why do some prayers seemingly go unanswered? Well, they don’t.  God answers each and every prayer and petition, it just may be that the answer is “no,” or “not just yet.”   The more I get to know God, the more I know that He wants more for us than we could ever fathom in our own minds.

A parent will tell a child “no” in order to protect the child and keep him or her safe. The parent knows that a child crossing a busy street is a recipe for disaster.  The child wants to cross the street; the child thinks he or she can cross the street; the child will even fuss and scream because they want to cross the street, but the parent knows that the child shouldn’t cross the street.  In much the same way, God says “no” to us.  I may think I want a certain thing, or person, or situation in my life.  I may ever fuss and scream because I want it to happen so badly.  But God knows better.   I have come to trust Him without fail, and you know what? my life has become so much more peaceful as a result.  No longer do I fight against the “no’s” or “not yets.”  I trust in God’s perfect timing, and look forward to the time when I can look over the landscape of my life and clearly see how those answered prayers guided me through life and to the place I will call my forever home.