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Blue Ridge Parkway

I read this poem on Barnstorming the other day and knew that I had to pass it along.  I adore the words of Robert Fulghum, but this seems particularly powerful for me lately as I have been thinking a lot about small town life and how powerful it can be to have a community that surrounds us and lifts us up regularly, often without even knowing it.

Without realizing it, we fill

important places in each others’ lives.
It’s that way with the guy at the corner grocery, the mechanic at the local garage,
the family doctor, teachers, neighbors, coworkers. Good people who are always “there,”
who can be relied upon in small,
important ways. People who teach us,
bless us, encourage us, support us,
uplift us in the dailiness of life.

We never tell them.
I don’t know why, but we don’t.

And, of course, we fill that role ourselves. There are those who depend on us,
watch us, learn from us, take from us. And we never know.

You may never have proof of your importance,
but you are more important than you think.
There are always those who couldn’t do without you.
The rub is that you don’t always know who.
~Robert Fulghum

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“Children’s book author Jarrett Krosoczka shares the origins of the Lunch Lady graphic novel series, in which undercover school heroes serve lunch…and justice! His new project, School Lunch Hero Day, reveals how cafeteria lunch staff provide more than food, and illustrates how powerful a thank you can be.”

Precious

These precious little ones that I love headed to back to the classroom, and along with the classroom and friends they make there there will be lots more people who have an influence on their lives.

Having went to the same elementary school as they are my prayer is that as many people who cared about me will care about them.  I grew up knowing that the Principal knew my name, that I was welcomed to class with a huge hug, that the lunch ladies were always there to scoop up a smile in addition to the lunch fare.

This year I am committed to looking for the everyday heroes and making sure that I thank them, to remind them that their presence in my life matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I write about silence a lot, it’s healing power, why we need more of it in our lives, ways to find silence in the midst of our hectic lives.  But as with so many important truths, there is a paradox.

Silence is vitally important- but so is speaking out.  As with so many things it is using discernment and wisdom to determine what the situation calls for.  There is a time for silence and a time for speaking our truth, for using our voice and breaking the silence.

Watching Ted talks is one of my favorite pastimes.  I always find something interesting and it helps to give me new ways of looking at things.

I recently watched this Ted Talk by Clint Smith who is a teacher and a slam poet.  There were so many times where I wanted to stop the talk so I could write down some of his wisdom and to take a moment to let the wisdom sink in.

 

One of the things that struck me was this:

I have four core principles posted on the board that sits in the front of my class, which every student signs at the beginning of the year: 

Read critically,

Write consciously,

Speak clearly,

Tell your truth.

What a different world it would be if we followed those core principles.

The recent events in Ferguson and the ensuing discussion have reminded me that we all have different experiences, we all walk through lives with our own filters, our own perceptions of how the world is and should be.  It has reminded me that silence about our experiences doesn’t serve anyone and that we have much to learn from each other.

I have determined that life is much better when I recognize my sphere of influence and begin with me, so in that spirit I will recommit to reading critically, writing consciously, speaking clearly, and telling my truth.

And one thing I can trust, beautiful things happen when you take risks.

 

 

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Grace

Lucky for us the lessons we most need to learn keep showing up.
Sigh…

I have been antsy lately, crabby and feeling overwhelmed by pretty much everything.  Instead of going to the things that I know bring me closer to my center, closer to a little bit of peace- getting enough sleep, working out, finishing one project at a time- I have been starting more and more, cramming more and more on my little plate and feeling the pressure of trying to keep it all contained on on the plate.  My soul has been craving space, silence and expansiveness with a large dose of grace, but instead it has been on a steady diet of have to’s, shoulds and ought to’s crowding out any space for grace.

Luckily I was reminded last night of the gift of being given grace by another when you can’t give it to yourself.

Then today, I came across this blog post, and was reminded this quote by Thomas Merton:

“The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist…destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

And this from Courtney Martin in her post the Spiritual Art of Saying No:

“So often when this issue gets talked about, I feel like it is portrayed as a problem of wilting flower women who just want to make everyone happy. I don’t mind disappointing people so much as I’m voraciously and indiscriminately interested in the world. I want to learn everything, be everywhere, collaborate with everyone. In thoroughly modern terms, I’ve got major FOMO about anything that fascinates me.”

One of my greatest strengths is also one of my greatest weaknesses.  Life fascinates me, and there is so much to learn, discover and experience.  And so many amazing people to befriend, to share life with, to adventure through life with.  And yet, this quote, and my recent days have reminded me that I can’t do all things, be all things to all people.  It reminds me to give myself the gift of stepping back, of taking a deep breath, of centering first and moving from there, giving myself more of the grace that was gifted to me.

So my reminder for myself, “Make space for grace”.

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Listening as Spiritual Hospitality

 

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations.  True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known.   They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

 

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting …for a chance to respond.

Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings.  The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves.

 

Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.

 

Henri Nouwen


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As Annie Dillard says,

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Flower5

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I choose to spend mine lately seeking beauty, with the lens in the tangible world and in the in the middle of heart-filled encounters with friends in the more intangible world of sacred listening.  And when I saw this little gem it resonated deeply.

Become Beauty

 

Since delving deeply into photography I have discovered that beauty is so much more abundant than I ever realized. We are taught that beauty fits into a certain mold, reminded by advertisements, and our culture in subtle and overt ways that beauty is this rigid, definable thing… and yet, our souls know differently.

Seek beauty, let it become you.

 

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Mindful…

Ladyslipper

Continuing my love affair with the poetry of Mary Oliver as of late, I offer this little gem. 

 

Mindful

Every day I see or hear something that more or less

kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle

in the haystack of light. It was what I was born for – to look, to listen,

to lose myself inside this soft world – to instruct myself over and over

in joy, and acclamation. Nor am I talking about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant – but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations. Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help

but grow wise with such teachings as these – the untrimmable light

of the world, the ocean’s shine, the prayers that are made out of grass?

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Why I Wake Early)

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Above All

Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

~ Roald Dahl

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For they existed…

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And when great souls die, 

after a period peace blooms,

slowly and always

irregularly.  Spaces fill

with a kind of

soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, never

to be the same, whisper to us. 

They existed.  They existed. 

We can be. Be and be 

better.  For they existed. 

 

~ Maya Angelou

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I just spent the past week filling my well, soaking and savoring in all of the things I crave, good conversation, beautiful sights, delicious food and soul filling silence.  I was reminded of the importance of making time for renewal, for being refreshed.  I was reminded in a very visceral way that in order to live a nourished life we must not only give, but freely receive as well.  

So my friends, soak it all in, the joy, the grace, the beauty, the love… it is all there waiting for you.  

Embrace it, fill yourself up until you overflow and from that overflow continue to serve others. 

 

Filling the Well

by Dorothy Baird

Sometime the day comes
when you have given everything
in your attempts to be everything to everyone.
You will know this day
when your small bird cannot flex
it’s wings against the wind.
When you’re sun cannot heave itself
over the horizon, when you lower
your bucket into the well and hear it
thud against the clay.

When this day comes you must take off
the smile that is no longer truly yours
and batten down your heart
that now betrays you with its giving.

You must hold your hands about your ears
for their voices are the siren calls that will bind you to them
and you must walk or limp or run
through the door you can barely see
into the darkness of a lonely room
into the ocean of an empty moor
into the wild arms of the forest.

and sit or walk until from deep within
a trembling starts to pulse
and your diviner’s hand sense
what the oak tree and the sycamore
and the worm that flicks its tail
all know; the source
is the same source
you are thirsting for. Drink deeply
Be still. Be slow. The world can find its way

without you. For you must drink
until your well is filled, until your feathers
plump, until a new sun rises
in the winter of your eyes. Then,
and only then, may you return,
and when they see you, lush
against the light, let them
stand back a little further than before
and be amazed.

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