Plant myself at the gates of Hope

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I have a friend who traffics in words. She is not a minister, but a psychiatrist in the health clinic at a prestigious women’s college. We were sitting once not long after a student she had known, and counseled, committed suicide in the dormitory there. My friend, the doctor, the healer, held the loss very closely in those first few days, not unprofessionally, but deeply, fully — as you or I would have, had this been someone in our care.

At one point (with tears streaming down her face), she looked up in defiance (this is the only word for it) and spoke explicitly of her vocation, as if out of the ashes of that day she were renewing a vow or making a new covenant (and I think she was). She spoke explicitly of her vocation, and of yours and mine. She said, “You know I cannot save them. I am not here to save anybody or to save the world. All I can do — what I am called to do — is to plant myself at the gates of Hope. Sometimes they come in; sometimes they walk by. But I stand there every day and I call out till my lungs are sore with calling, and beckon and urge them in toward beautiful life and love…

There’s something for all of us there, I think. Whatever our vocation, we stand, beckoning and calling, singing and shouting, planted at the gates of Hope. This world and our people are beautiful and broken, and we are called to raise that up — to bear witness to the possibility of living with the dignity, bravery, and gladness that befits a human being. That may be what it is to “live our mission.”

~ Victoria Safford, excerpt from “The Small Work in the Great Work


Notes:


It is an issue of private shame

Hungry-Child

James Harrison, New Statesman: The Foodbank Dilemma:

“…A young clean-shaven man leads an older, grey-haired, battered-by-life-version-of-himself to where Tony stands. Tony greets them kindly and asks the younger man who referred them to the food bank. There’s a moment of startled silence. Then the younger man says gruffly, “It’s not for me, it’s for my dad”, and looks down at the floor. The colour flushing his face makes clear his embarrassment…”

“…School holidays are the hardest time because you have to feed your children three times a day. That’s why I am coming here now…”

“…Normally I eat porridge in the morning to fill myself up and then often I don’t eat at all myself in the evenings. But today is the start of the kids’ holidays and so they don’t get the school meals, they have to eat all their food at home and I just can’t manage…”

“…Not having enough food is a very private issue…It is an issue of private shame. People eat mostly within the home, and so what people eat, and the ways in which it is inadequate, people keep to themselves. And it is an issue of private suffering. If you are not getting enough food, or the right kind of food, you absorb the misery yourself. The cost is embodied by you. It is your body that becomes unhealthy…”

“…people turned to food aid as “a strategy of last resort”, when they have exhausted all other possibilities, including cutting back on food and turning to family and friends. No one I met used a foodbank lightly. Louise had been skipping dinners for months before she went to Coventry Foodbank. She finally attended so she could feed her children during the school holiday…”

“…I saw a young woman break down into floods of tears when the food was brought out. She was overwhelmed by the idea that she could feed her family properly that night…”

“…Another man, too shy to talk to me, told the volunteers he had walked miles across the city to get a referral and then a few miles more for his food that afternoon. He didn’t have enough money for the bus fare. He sat, exhausted, cradling a cup of tea, rocking backwards and forwards, before making the same trip home again. This time laden down with his bags of food…”

“…I am down to the last pound or so on my electricity card and I am really starting to worry about that. And so I have been going to bed really hungry for a week or so. It’s my second trip. I was really worried about coming the first time. I was ashamed, but everyone has made me feel so welcome, and told me not to worry. This time I feel more comfortable. I hope my benefit issues will get sorted out soon so I don’t have to come again…”

Read full article here: The Foodbank Dilemma:


Image Credit: shescribes.com

 

As you prepare your breakfast

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As you prepare your breakfast, think of others
(do not forget the pigeon’s food).
As you wage your wars, think of others
(do not forget those who seek peace).
As you pay your water bill, think of others
(those who are nursed by clouds).
As you return home, to your home, think of others
(do not forget the people of the camps).
As you sleep and count the stars, think of others
(those who have nowhere to sleep).
As you express yourself in metaphor, think of others
(those who have lost the right to speak).
As you think of others far away, think of yourself
(say: If only I were a candle in the dark.)

— Mahmoud Darwish, “Think of Others”

 


Credits: Poem – The Journey of Words from Darwish’s book Almond Blossoms and Beyond. Photograph: bdak89

For a moment life suddenly feels lighter

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“I firmly believe in small gestures: pay for their coffee, hold the door for strangers, over tip, smile or try to be kind even when you don’t feel like it, pay compliments, chase the kid’s runaway ball down the sidewalk and throw it back to him, try to be larger than you are— particularly when it’s difficult. People do notice, people appreciate. I appreciate it when it’s done to (for) me. Small gestures can be an effort, or actually go against our grain (‘I’m not a big one for paying compliments…’), but the irony is that almost every time you make them, you feel better about yourself. For a moment life suddenly feels lighter, a bit more Gene Kelly dancing in the rain.”

Jonathan Carroll 


Notes:

{ The meaning of life }

David Kanigan:

Here’s the “Meaning of Life.” ~9,000,000 people have watched this video in the past 2 weeks and seem to agree. I’m one of them. I was moved by this short film. (Be sure to check out Ana’s wonderful blog. She’s from Portugal. Her blog’s name is “Sol de Dezembro” (“December Sun”).

Originally posted on Sol de Dezembro:

View original

Easily one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had

El Salvador

Our Eric travelled to El Salvador on a mission. Background posts can be found here: White T-Shirts and I can feel him.  He sent us a Thank You Note (shocking!) after he returned. Here’s his note:

[Read more…]

Above all, remember the more harm you cause, the more hate you feel…

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“Pay attention to when the cart is getting before the horse. Notice when a painful initiation leads to irrational devotion, or when unsatisfying jobs start to seem worthwhile. Remind yourself pledges and promises have power, as do uniforms and parades. Remember in the absence of extrinsic rewards you will seek out or create intrinsic ones. Take into account [that] the higher the price you pay for your decisions the more you value them. See that ambivalence becomes certainty with time. Realize that lukewarm feelings become stronger once you commit to a group, club, or product. Be wary of the roles you play and the acts you put on, because you tend to fulfill the labels you accept. Above all, remember the more harm you cause, the more hate you feel. The more kindness you express, the more you come to love those you help.”

- David McRaney


Quote Source: Brainpickings – The Benjamin Franklin Effect: The Surprising Psychology of How to Handle Haters. Image from Amazon.


I would hear the word whispered to me in simple moments

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“…Instead, I found that in quiet, ordinary, every day life, I would hear the word whispered to me in simple moments: give that car the room to merge ahead; give that person your full attention – remain quiet and let them talk; spend a few moments in conversation with the building custodian when leaving work, give that compliment to the woman in line ahead of you with the gorgeous hair; tell the person who helped you that they made an impact; express gratitude to the ones who are there for you all the time; give a moment a chance to happen instead of taking over…”

~ Bonnie, “How Will I Be Changed” @ PageKeeper


Credits: Thank you Bonnie.  Read full post @ “How Will I Be Changed.” Image Credit: Dear Caffeine

Running. On Christmas Day.

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She had an oversized winter coat. No gloves. No hat.
She was a hundred yards from the train station.
And walking the other way.
No one was waiting.

It was Christmas Day.
27° F.
4:30 pm.
Kids are lounging.
Jake & Josh running in one room.
The other is curled up with Zeke and a comforter. Both sound asleep.
Dinner was in the oven. ETA of 6:30 pm.
I glance out the window.
Daylight is fading quickly.
There’s time.

I could see her outline in the shadows of the street lights.
Hunched over.
Alone.
[Read more…]

Truth by Louis CK

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Louis Szekely, 46, known as Louis C.K., is a stand-up comedian, who has been described as the King of Middle Age Rage. C.K.’s father was born in Mexico, while C.K.’s mother is an American of Irish Catholic ancestry, originally from a farm in Michigan.  C.K. was born in Washington, D.C., but lived in Mexico City until the age of seven. His first language is Spanish, and he still retains Mexican citizenship. After graduating from High School, C.K. worked as an auto mechanic and at a public access TV cable station in Boston, while summoning the courage to try stand-up. He first took the stage in 1984 at an open-mic in.  He was so discouraged by the experience that he didn’t perform again for two years. As Boston’s comedy scene grew, he gradually achieved success, performing alongside acts such as Denis Leary and Lenny Clarke.  C.K. has been nominated for numerous Emmy Awards for his writing including his work for The Chris Rock Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Chewed Up and Louie. (Source: Wiki)


“I don’t stop eating when I’m full. The meal isn’t over when I’m full. It’s over when I hate myself.”

“It seems like the better it gets, the more miserable people become. There’s never a technological advancement where people think, “Wow, we can finally do this!” And I think a lot of it has to do with advertising. Americans have it constantly drilled into our heads, every *$*@ day, that we deserve everything to be perfect all the time.”

If you’ve never seen CK in action, here’s Louis C.K. Hates Cell Phones on Conan.


GIF Source: Thank you Karen @ Karen’s Korner

There IS a Santa


Or at this link: CBS: The Secret Santa

Your Move

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“The Golden Rule is of no use whatsoever unless you realize that it is your move.”

Dr. Frank Crane


Credits: Thank you Steve Layman for Quote. Image Credit: anime-ph

The first rule is comfort in, dump out

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How Not to Say The Wrong Thing by Susan Silk and Barry Goldman

It works in all kinds of crises – medical, legal, even existential. It’s the ‘Ring Theory’ of kvetching. The first rule is comfort in, dump out.

…Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.

Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it. Don’t, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, “I’m sorry” or “This must really be hard for you” or “Can I bring you a pot roast?” Don’t say, “You should hear what happened to me” or “Here’s what I would do if I were you.” And don’t say, “This is really bringing me down.”


Source: SwissMiss

The Third Most Popular Course at Harvard

Michael Puett

“The smallest actions have the most profound ramifications. Confucius, Mencius, and other Chinese philosophers taught that the most mundane actions can have a ripple effect, and Puett urges his students to become more self-aware, to notice how even the most quotidian acts—holding open the door for someone, smiling at the grocery clerk—change the course of the day by affecting how we feel.

That rush of good feeling that comes after a daily run, the inspiring conversation with a good friend, or the momentary flash of anger that arises when someone cuts in front of us in line—what could they have to do with big life matters? Everything, actually. From a Chinese philosophical point of view, these small daily experiences provide us endless opportunities to understand ourselves. When we notice and understand what makes us tick, react, feel joyful or angry, we develop a better sense of who we are that helps us when approaching new situations. Mencius, a late Confucian thinker (4th century B.C.E.), taught that if you cultivate your better nature in these small ways, you can become an extraordinary person with an incredible influence, altering your own life as well as that of those around you, until finally “you can turn the whole world in the palm of your hand.”

~ CHRISTINE GROSS-LOH at The Atlantic: Why Are Hundreds of Harvard Students Studying Ancient Chinese Philosophy?

“Michael Puett, 48, is a professor of Chinese history at Harvard University. Puett’s course Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Theory has become the third most popular course at Harvard. The only classes with higher enrollment are Intro to Economics and Intro to Computer Science. The second time Puett offered it, in 2007, so many students crowded into the assigned room that they were sitting on the stairs and stage and spilling out into the hallway. Harvard moved the class to Sanders Theater, the biggest venue on campus. [Read more…]

The greatest crime of all

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2:30 am.
The mind is buzzing.
Thoughts zipping around like skeeter bugs on the surface of a still pond.
Most leaving faint ripples in their wake.
Work. Weight. Weekend. Work. Work. Work.

But One lingers. And has lingered since yesterday morning.

I’m pulling out of the gas station.
The morning traffic is blocking the exit.
Nine cars pass.
I’m counting.
A pick-up finally stops.
I can see the outline of his face.
He’s not smiling.
He doesn’t wave me in.
He just stops.
And waits.

One small gesture.

And it stuck.

And that small gesture…

Led the mind to leapfrog to The greatest crime of all[Read more…]

I had to do something. I have no shame.


Moved. No words required.


A Morning Prayer

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Source: themetapicture.com

Give. And give. And give more.

Wharton, Businessweek,professor, education, school, giving

I read this NY Times article a week ago: Is Giving The Secret to Getting Ahead. And synchronicity has been working it’s magic ever since.  I’m seeing giving everywhere.  Yesterday alone with three examples: My post and One Good Deed.  Entering a bone chilling cabin, a flight attendant see an elderly woman shivering and gives her a cardigan. Last night a quote by Sam Levenson: “Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.”

Adam Grant, 31, is the youngest-tenured and highest rated professor at Wharton.  He has published more papers in his field than colleagues who have won lifetime-acheivement awards.  He is the author of a new book titled “Give and Take – A Revolutionary Approach to Success” which will be released later this month.  The man lives his personal and professional life as a GIVER. (Miraculously so.)  The story (long) is worth the time to understand what he does and why he does it. Grant’s research divides us into three categories: [Read more…]

I can only muster thoughts for one

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‎“I talk about love, forgiveness, social justice; I rage against American materialism in the name of altruism, but have I even controlled my own heart? The overwhelming majority of time I spend thinking about myself, pleasing myself, reassuring myself, and when I am done there is nothing to spare for the needy. Six billion people live in this world, and I can only muster thoughts for one. Me.”

~ Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz


Image: kellensblog via thegiftsoflife. Quote: middlenameconfused

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2400 Santas participated in the Glasglow Santa Dash run for charity on December 9th.

charity, fundraiser, community, help others, give

Scotland, charity, fundraising, Christmas, helping others, giving

[Read more…]

Go without a coat; find out what cold is.

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‎Go without a coat; find out what cold is. Go hungry; keep your existence lean. Wear away the fat, get down to the lean tissue and see what it’s all about. The only time you define your character is when you go without. In times of hardship, you find out what you’re made of and what you’re capable of. If you’re never tested, you’ll never define your character.

~ Henry Rollins


Image: holyholychic via thegiftsoflife