Advent Day 05: Practicing Peace In Times of War …

When you’re like a keg of dynamite just about to go off, patience means just slowing down at that point—just pausing—instead of immediately acting on your usual, habitual response. You refrain from acting, you stop talking to yourself, and then you connect with the soft spot. But at the same time you are completely and totally honest with yourself about what you are feeling. You’re not suppressing anything; patience has nothing to do with suppression. In fact, it has everything to do with a gentle, honest relationship with yourself. If you wait and don’t fuel the rage with your thoughts, you can be very honest about the fact that you long for revenge; nevertheless you keep interrupting the torturous story line and stay with the underlying vulnerability. That frustration, that uneasiness and vulnerability, is nothing solid. And yet it is painful to experience. Still, just wait and be patient with your anguish and with the discomfort of it. This means relaxing with that restless, hot energy—knowing that it’s the only way to find peace for ourselves or the world. Continue reading “Advent Day 05: Practicing Peace In Times of War …”

Love Is The Superstar Virtue Of Virtues …

If we are stretching to live wiser and not just smarter, we will aspire to learn what love means, how it arises and deepens, how it withers and revives, what it looks like as a private good but also a common good. I long to make this word echo differently in hearts and ears—not less complicated, but differently so. Love as muscular, resilient. Love as social—not just about how we are intimately, but how we are together, in public. I want to aspire to a carnal practical love—eros become civic, not sexual and yet passionate, full-bodied. Because it is the best of which we are capable, loving is also supremely exacting, not always but again and again. Love is something we only master in moments. It crosses the chasms between us, and likewise brings them into relief. It is as captive to the human condition as anything we attempt. Continue reading “Love Is The Superstar Virtue Of Virtues …”

Courage Is Fear Walking …

We want life to be as dazzling and painless as possible. Life, on the other hand, has a way of humbling us, and heartbreak is built into its agreement with the world. We’re young, until we’re not. We’re healthy, until we’re not. We’re with those we love, until we’re not. Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility. One of the greatest human triumphs is to choose to make room in our hearts for both the joy and the pain, and to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This means seeing feelings not as being “good” or “bad” but as just “being.” Yes, there is this relentless assumption in our culture that we need to do something when we have inner turmoil. We must struggle with it, fix it, control it, exert brute-force willpower over it, remain positive. What we really need to do, though, is also what is most simple and obvious: nothing. That is, to just welcome these inner experiences, breathe into them, and learn their contours without racing for the exits. Continue reading “Courage Is Fear Walking …”

In Search Of Our True Self …

To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty.

To find the best in others; to give one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exaltation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

What to Do When You Can’t Find Your True Self

Who of us has not asked, “Who am I?” “Who am I really?” “What am I all about?” “Is there any essential ‘me’ here?” It is as if we are all a big secret to ourselves and must search for clues, however obscure they may be. Yet the search never stops fascinating us, even as we grow older. (If it does, we have almost certainly stopped growing.) … Continue reading “In Search Of Our True Self …”

In Humility Is The Greatest Freedom …

We experience humility not because we have fought and lost but because humility is the only lens through which great things can be seen ― and once we have seen them, humility is the only posture possible.
― Parker Palmer from The Courage To Teach

 

In Humility Is The Greatest Freedom

In humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your peace of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities and there is no joy in things that do not exist. Continue reading “In Humility Is The Greatest Freedom …”

Advent Meditation: Hope Anyway …

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness.
— Malachi 3:1–3

The prophet Malachi appeared at a time of discouragement for the chosen people. They had survived the exile under the Babylonians and were back in their homeland. In what should have been a time of gratitude and renewed fidelity to God’s law, Malachi saw the old patterns beginning again, the attitudes that had gotten the people in trouble in the past. The same old injustices, abuses, and indifference were creeping back into the culture … Continue reading “Advent Meditation: Hope Anyway …”

Life’s Beautiful Uncertainty …

Maybe happiness is not about us, as individuals.
Maybe it is not something that arrives into us.
Maybe happiness is felt heading out, not in.
Maybe happiness is not about what we deserve because we’re worth it.
Maybe happiness is not about what we can get.
Maybe happiness is about what we already have.
Maybe happiness is about what we can give.
Maybe happiness is not a butterfly we can catch with a net.
Maybe there is no certain way to be happy.
Maybe there are only maybes.
If (as Emily Dickinson said) ‘Forever — is composed of Nows — ‘, maybe the nows are made of maybes.
Maybe the point of life is to give up certainty and to embrace life’s beautiful uncertainty.
— Matt Haig from Notes On A Nervous Planet

Fear is not your enemy. It is a compass pointing you to the areas where you need to grow.
— Steve Pavlina from The Courage to Live Consciously

Continue reading “Life’s Beautiful Uncertainty …”