Light

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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.

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Attracting Good

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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.

 

Peace Is

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The 2016 presidential election has stirred the collective consciousness of this country.   Those on the ‘winning’ side, feel heard, emboldened, justified and sanctified. Those whose presidential choice did not prevail, myself included, feel a tremendous sense of grief, hurt, anger and disbelief.   From my own perspective, now seven days post-election, my reaction to the results are becoming tempered, which is allowing me to understand them, heal from them, and better yet, grow from them.

My meditation sessions for the past week have brought forth one central theme—peace. We humans crave peace, and the lack of peace within ourselves creates disharmony not only within us, but to those in our immediate circle and in our community. It is true what they say, ‘hurting people hurt people.’   Do you think that teenager who broke into your house is at peace? Or that guy that flipped you off in traffic? Think about the ripple effect of their peacelessness.   What is going on in their family, in their lives, that causes such action? How their actions have impacted you?

Peacelessness is not innate. Peace is. Newborns do not come into this world angry and malcontent. We are taught these negative emotions through our relationships with our parents, our classmates, our co-workers. We develop a desire to hurt those who have more than us, to get mad at those who don’t see things our way, to hate our lot in life. So we take it out on others, in ways that are difficult to fathom. The peacelessness in our country is no more evident as that demonstrated in the campaign and its’ after-effects.

Imagine what would happen if rather than teaching peacelessness, we taught peace. What if we taught our children and those around us to be content with where we are and what we have, that it’s not about how far you get, but how you get there, and that we love the community, and it’s people, in which we are a part? Can you imagine that world? Oh, I have no doubt there would still be conflict, but conflict can exist without hatred and vitriol. Conflict can be respectful, embodied in the recognition that whomever we are in conflict with is our brother or sister, not our enemy.

Peace is within us all. It has no regard for gender, race, creed, ethnicity or sexual orientation.   It is freely available for those who wish to reclaim it. Peace is necessary for the survival of this world, and for the human race. I, for one, am on a mission to infuse my life, my consciousness, my entire being with peace. I am content with where I am, and as my life continues to evolve, I am intent on living it with peace in my heart. I am hopeful that as I continue on my peace path that those around me will reap the benefits so at least, in my little corner of the world, there will be peace.

The Kindness of Strangers

The other day, I was on my way to work.  The morning had been the same as virtually every other weekday morning–got up early, worked out, ate breakfast, prayed and then got ready and headed off to work (I know, I do a LOT before 9:00 a.m.!).  As I was driving, I experienced a fleeting, yet overwhelming feeling that something special was going to happen this day.  No matter how hard I prayed, I just couldn’t seem to get this feeling back, because it felt so good.  I thanked God for His blessing and continued on my way.

As I was stopped at the light near my office, I absent-mindedly was looking around at my surroundings.  At this particular stop light, there are bus stops on either side of the street, and I often watch the people waiting for their transportation to wherever they are going.  I sometimes watch these people and say prayers for them; sometimes I am just watching them with no particular thought in my head.  This day was different, however.  I began watching an Asian woman, likely in her mid-50’s or so, walking toward the bus stop on the other side of the street.  She was blind and was using a cane to navigate her way down the sidewalk.  She moved slowly, and somewhat tentatively as she came upon a large electrical box adjacent to the sidewalk.  As she approached it, it appeared as though she would walk right into it, but her cane alerted her to its’ existence and she started slowly making her way to a clear path.

Suddenly, I observed a young Hispanic gentleman, maybe around 30 years old, walk up to her and say something to her.  She smiled broadly, grabbed his arm and he led her, slowly and safely, to the bus stop 50 feet away.  That fleeting feeling that I experienced earlier came back in a rush, and tears instantly came to my eyes. I had just witnessed a very simple, yet profound, act of kindness.  This young man, who had been waiting at the bus stop down the way, didn’t have to walk the 50 feet to help this woman.  This woman, who no doubt does not allow her blindness to prevent her from getting out and about, didn’t ask for his help, but willingly and with a big smile on her face gladly received it.  This incredible, blessed act of kindness will forever link these two strangers, as well as myself, who was fortunate and blessed enough to have witnessed it.

The light turned green and after blessing these two and thanking God for allowing me to witness this, I had to continue on to work, but I knew that I had experienced God in a very close and personal way that morning.  I went into my office with such a feeling of lightness, peace and joy that cannot be put into words.  Whenever the pressures of the workday reared their head (and at my job, that happens often), I thought back to that display of kindness and was brought back to that place of incredible peace and joy.  To this day, when I replay the image of that encounter in my mind, my eyes still well up with gratitude.  Sometimes, it’s the kindness of strangers toward each other that is the greatest gift.   I was simply a fortunate by-stander in this display, but was profoundly and forever impacted by it.  For that, God, I express my deepest gratitude.