Showing posts from May, 2014

Sowing Seeds to Reap Good Deeds

Sometimes, we have an impact far greater than we can imagine... Most of our lives, we plant seeds and often do not have the opportunity to see or experience the fruits of our labor. We do not see the impact we have on our students, our children, our friends - and even on perfect strangers. But every once in a while someone comes to us and let's us know that we changed them, perhaps even profoundly. Yesterday, I heard from three people from my past. The funny thing is, the day didn't exactly start out very well. I was feeling kind of sorry for myself. But then, out of the blue, several souls intersected with mine and the impact of our connection years back was not only brought to mind, but I was also gifted with the ability to see how those connections had flourished in a positive way. So, here is the thing. We are constantly planting seeds. We try to do our best. We try to say the right things, and be there for others. That's not to say we don't fail at times. M

Changing the Narrative

Sometimes, all we need to do in our lives is to change the narrative... It sounds very simple, yet this is incredibly hard to do... There are moments when things are not quite working in our lives. Our thought patterns hold us captive and our future possibilities lie scattered all around us, truncated at best... Sometimes, we just have to entertain a different way of looking at things, and recently I was reminded of this not once, not twice, but three times... I reflect on the journey of Pope Francis to a land sacred to three faiths, always in strife, gripped in endless drama and bloodshed, where its inhabitants were all recognized at various junctures by this Pope - to the dismay of the others, each one jockeying for sole attention. All of Israel and Palestine's factions were each encouraged to find solutions for peace by making hard choices and sacrifices. Not one group was praised or faulted over the other, because they all must change their perspectives if there is to b

Making Space for an Inner Engagement

"Every disturbance, whether resolved or not, is making space for an inner engagement." ~ Mark Nepo I set out for a walk this morning - breezy and perfect in every way - on the cusp of the Memorial Day weekend, deeply reflecting on this quote by Mark Nepo. Life is filled with disturbances, and every once in a while we revisit old wounds... I imagine sitting down with a dear friend or two, inquiring of them - or perhaps answering the question: "What is the greatest wound you carry?" For some of us it might be one wound - or perhaps several. For some of us it could be something very big and unfathomable - something even defying articulation - such as abuse. Or losing a child. Or having a beloved leave...  Sometimes our wounds might seem insignificant to others. But it does not matter. For to the one who experiences the wound - it is very real - and is perceived as the worst possible experience in that moment... Yet, our experiences are simply th

A Thousand Ways to Be Silent

What do you hear when you are silent? Take a moment, or two - or several minutes - and spend it in silence, and note what you "hear..." For a while now, I have been observing what I've come to refer to as "Sabbath Sundays" and "Silent Tuesdays."  On Sundays, for most of the day, I try and unplug from all things technological, including all my devices. In fact, I was describing this recently to someone I know, explaining how I literally place a shroud over my iMac, by covering it with a beautiful lace veil a dear friend made for me. The friend I was talking to, knowing my cultural origins, completely understood the metaphor and exclaimed,  "Oh! It's a mantilla for your iMac!" On Tuesdays, I have been taking a day of silence. Generally I sleep in, then sit in meditation with no fixed ending time, just letting the practice bring itself gently to conclusion. I try not to run errands of any sort, and often do not speak until my husba

Footsteps and Journeys

There are times in life we travel alone. And there are times we follow in another's footsteps - or someone follows in ours... Years ago, while I was in my twenties, I visited a contemplative community for a silent retreat in their cloistered monastery. I came armed with a few spiritual texts and blended into the rhythm of the nuns' lives, participating in as much as was possible - most especially in the chanting of the Liturgy of the Hours - which I found both daunting and a satisfying rich and spiritual feast! I was housed in the novitiate wing, by then empty, in a cell where Mother Teresa of Calcutta had spent the night once, as she passed through town. I was told by the nuns that the next day, they were amazed to find that the room had been left untouched. She had not slept in the bed - and had either slept on the floor or prayed all night. The only thing she asked for had been a bucket of water. I felt the energy of Mother Teresa's presence deep into the silent ni

A Kind Heart

Yesterday was Mother's Day, and also one of those rare, slow, lazy, and glorious mornings, where I sat on my deck and read two newspapers - practically from cover to cover for hours as birds chirped about joyously, from their hidden perches within the canopy of leafy branches overhead.  Two articles caught my eye. The first was a tribute of sorts to Robin Roberts of "Good Morning America" entitled "Morning Muse." The essay addressed why people are drawn to her, and suggested it is because she offers more of herself, and connects with a wider audience because she has survived incredible challenges and adversity in life, including two bouts of cancer. Her long-time friend and fellow news anchor, Diane Sawyer, put it this way:  "She's doing what her heart impels her to do, and what's in her heart is always kind." Thus, Robin Roberts sees people - truly sees them and connects with them - and brings out the best in her audience and intervi

A Circle of Love

There are days you know you've done something good... There are moments when you reap what you've sowed... There are times you touch someone profoundly... Sometimes, you do these small, seemingly insignificant deeds, and you do not even know for years where they landed - or how deeply moved someone was as a result. But here is the thing, no good deed goes unnoticed in this universe. No good deed ends up dead in its tracks. Like a small pebble thrown into the river of life, its effects ripple in widening waves and reverberate and undulate infinitely. I really do believe this! Yesterday was one of those days for me. A series of actions and deeds grew exponentially, and I marveled and was in awe of where they all landed and how they blossomed. Know that one kind word or gesture on your part may have a tremendous impact on another life. You may not even get to know what it might be. Or, you might one day have someone say to you that you saved their life, perhaps unknowing

A Basket of Beautiful Offerings

Once in a while, you attend a workshop or seminar that changes the way you look at something - enabling you to see things with fresh eyes. I had that experience this weekend, attending an anatomy and yoga workshop by Maria Cristina Jimenez, a very gifted young teacher, at Willow Street Yoga Center , in Maryland. Her extensive background in anatomy, yoga, Rolfing, and bodywork, punctuated by several dissections - and her clarity and the compassion she embodies for both her subject and her students - touched me profoundly, and enabled me to "re-imagine" the body and its amazing capabilities in a totally new way. Maria Cristina spoke of the importance of the language we use in our teaching and the effect it has on our understanding and impressions of the body. For example, instead of referring to the "rib cage" in this manner, she introduced the image of a "rib basket" instead, which contains our vital organs. When I shared this notion in my own yoga cla

Sitting with Darkness

"Everything has its wonders, even the darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state  I may be in, therein to be content." ~ Helen Keller It rained a veritable deluge this week, and I thought of it as Mother Nature cleansing everything to usher in the month of May and the season of spring in a much more emphatic way. For a couple of days it was dark, and I took a day of total silence during one of them - not speaking or listening to music, or the TV - just to the falling rain as it landed softly and more deliberately at times, on a number of different surfaces, occasionally punctuated by a bird chirping, here or there. For most of that silent day, the rain was of the deep, soaking variety. I also chose to turn off the computer and phone, so that I could enter deeply into the day, without anything pulling me out of it. It is amazing how much of your day you reclaim when you are simply not "online" or "available." Instead, I moved slowly a