Were you the child who was always helpful? Did you share your pudding cup or cut your sandwich in half when you saw someone who didn’t have any lunch. You noticed. Kindness wasn’t only a word for you. It was a reflex. You gave. Keep it up.
You opened your heart to people who lost everything and needed clothing and shelter. There have been floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, and loss of all kinds. You gave. These are challenging times in which we live. Your gift was a comfort, and to some, you might have been their light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t lose heart. Keep the fire of love burning.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received was to get to know people for myself, then decide who I think they are. It’s too easy to listen to everyone else’s opinion of people. It’s tempting to get advice about vacations and books, but there is no accounting for some folks taste.
There are many versions of the cities we visit and especially the places we live in. If you live in a historic city you would know what I’m talking about. For instance, New Orleans. There’s the highly romanticized version that’s in the movies with all the drama and music, then there’s the vilified version that the preachers on television like to blame for the downfall of society. Of course that’s not the only city I could name. I’m sure you could name a few also. London. Las Vegas. There’s an actual list. Top 10 Sin Cities in the World.
And the versions are about as many as there are people. The city varies from, nasty, busy, stinky, a rip-off, crowded, bawdy, etc. I’ll leave the rest to you. Perceptions are plentiful to opinionated people, just as ideas are to inventors. Cheap. What creates atmosphere that you can almost touch and even seem to come to life, is when a story is born. Give me a good story, combined with a strong visual perception, and you have a customer. Otherwise I couldn’t read about Gotham city. Who in their right mind would otherwise want to read about an orphaned child, a corrupt city, with a backdrop of darkly drawn ink caricatured bad guys? But all of us who have grown up with this story line for some reason have loved it. In this story line there is redemption. There’s hope for even the worst possible circumstances.
Some of my favorite stories are from well-known cities with their own flavors. Jim Butcher writes about Chicago in the Dresden files. There are underground tunnels, vampire councils, and of course the a slew of bad guys that no ordinary citizen wants to meet. And Dresden is the guy to take them all on. You see Chicago through his eyes.
Karen Marie Moning starts her Fever series in the peach of sunny Georgia but continues in Dublin. I’ve never been to Dublin but I can almost taste the froth on the beer. And the chill from the misty rain makes me want to grab a blanket every time I read another of her books. I can’t wait until the 20th of this month when the next one comes out.
Currently I’m reading a series by Faith Hunter, Jane Yellowrock, which in the currently centers in New Orleans. There’s dancing, eating, and hunting vampires. Here’s a scene that shows the city coming back to life after a hurricane/storm. If I were a photographer, I’d be itching to take snapshots.
Lanterns, lamps, and candles lit windows. People sat at tables on second story balconies, by lamplight, and the smell of food wafted down. Tinny music came from open windows, battery-powered boom boxes perched on ledges shared a soft dissonance of musical tastes. Live music, a guitar, saxophone, a drum came through an open bar door. Tables inside were lit with candles, a generator roaring in back. Small businesses that depended on the tourists trade twenty-four/seven, just to make the rent, were opening, despite the lack of city power. More generators began to hum. – Blood Cross excerpt, by Faith Hunter.
How does a view of a city apply to people? Get to know them yourself, then decide. Never judge a book by its cover. Think about it. And check out Re-framing.
What would you do if there was no one watching? If there was no one to approve or disapprove? Would you dance? Would you draw? Laugh at stupid things? Spin in circles? I think I would run. I also miss hiking. I haven’t been in a few years. I enjoyed the trails. I would do that even if someone was watching. We pretend we don’t care what people think and maybe that’s true. I may not care, but I don’t like being stared at. And doing anything outlandish makes them stare. So I won’t run naked down the street.
Shame keeps us in hiding. What are you ashamed of? Cracked feet? Mold in your shower? Thoughts that keep you awake at night? The funny thing is that we all have these things. I’ve never been great at cleaning windows. Like most of us, it’s the least important item on my list. Sometimes not even making the list.
I had a house that I never once cleaned the windows. Friends came by and never noticed that the windows weren’t clean. The carpet was pretty, the kitchen was updated, and the walls were newly painted. They praised my upkeep. And I kept silent. Later we left that house, rented it to some folks who didn’t keep it clean. Complicated story but, the friends from before wanted to buy the house. They had fallen in love with it. It was in a nice location and it was a perfect size for them. Later after they moved in, they remarked how the renters had let the place go downhill. Even the windows were yucky. They must have never cleaned them, according to my friend. It took a bit of effort on my part to stay silent.
It feels so good to have a loved one come and say, it’s okay. That ugly thought you have is normal. The hateful feelings are normal. The embarrassment you have is normal. It’s all okay. We all have shame. We all have embarrassing things like dirty windows that we cover up. Some of us just cover a bit better than others. My advice, for what it’s worth, show off what you’re good at. Don’t worry about all the other stuff.
Just for kicks and giggles I’m going to bring up a subject that is often argued. In one corner stand the believers of the divine power. The religious and spiritual alike believe in the power of prayer, the real act. The words, the beads, the statues, the candles, the water and oil. In the other corner are the skeptics. Those that believe in medicine, in science, in studies and practice. They will tell you there is no god to answer that prayer and any help that is given, is given by people or the ill persons own psyche.
In reality these two sides merge and flow together each sharing their strengths. If only we knew the truth. Studies are done but still each side sees what they believed in originally. If it’s not god, then who? Or what? I think it all comes together if you’re standing in the right place.
The fruit of the spirit is …
Most Christians can quote this one. But what if it’s not talking about THE Spirit. What if this verse were referring to spirit in general, as opposed to flesh.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
We talk about our lizard brain as the control center for our baser self. We eat, we drink, we sleep, we fulfill all of our lusts. But humanity has other parts also. A portion of our brain encourages us to communicate, to interact, to be generous. These qualities or attitudes are present when people receive prayer or loved ones are near. There is acceptance. There is love. There is this overwhelming feeling of not being alone and isolated. With acceptance comes healing.
There was a study done many years ago about newborns. Those that received touch as well as the needed nourishment, thrived. Grew stronger and healthier. Those that received their food and received only the bare minimum of touch, became weaker. as if they weren’t even fed at all. What can cause such a thing? Was it really the touching alone? The Experience of Touch
So if we want to encourage healing in those around us what do we need to do? Touching? Or praying? It is very possible that we as humans can’t separate our emotions from out actions. If you know you can’t be with someone or show them affection, you tend to avoid them completely. Sometimes we avoid thinking of them.
Another topic I want to explore in the future is WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO THRIVE? How do we thrive?
What the world needs now is less religion and more hugging. At least it needs less rigid religion, amid which religion becomes ideology; and it needs more compassionate hugging of the kind that nurses give patients in hospitals.
It is one thing to climb a mountain. It’s hard. It’s tiring. It’s character development. But it is a completely different thing to climb a mountain, go back down, and then lead a team back up the same mountain, just so another can enjoy the view also.
I know it’s rewarding to do something you never thought you could do. Stick it out a moment longer. Take the difficult path. You come out stronger. You value life more than you could have ever dreamed. Your fears that go bump in the night seem less frightening. But that’s not the end.
Do you know that we never truly arrive. We never get there. It’s all a journey and we continue until the day we die. I know mostly everyone’s heard the saying by now, but I can’t help repeating it.
If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.
Most people have heard the first chapter of the Tao,
If you think you have arrived, or even haven’t arrived yet but should have arrived, stop what you’re doing. That picture you have in your head, that fantasy of perfection, is only a lie. It’s as fake as plastic flowers. Throw it away. The discomfort you feel, the coffee stains on your shirt, the lost socks, and the spilled milk, are all part of your real life. Side by side they are the threads, the knots, and the whirls that create your life and there’s no true finished project. Although there are moments that leave you breathless and the view is spectacular.
You may not have made it to the top of the mountain, but you can still help someone else. Give to a charity. Hold someone’s hand during a crisis. Help out at the food bank. Pass a tissue or a smile. If you’re not quite as far along the path as you thought you should be, it’s okay. You’re farther than the person behind you. Rest a minute, let them catch up. Help each other out.
B4Peace have committed to dedicating at least one post a month with the theme Peace. Here are few others:
About 10 years ago I had a very epic dream. It started with an accident on the freeway with anger and confusion. It was overwhelming. I wanted to hide. The next part was a horrible blood-filled and sad scene. The third scene was of picking up debris after a tornado and storm. Tree limbs and broken things were lying all around, then someone called for me. My dress was ready, a wedding dress. When I came out, a procession was waiting and I was walking down the outdoor aisle. At that moment I saw myself. Rare in my dreams. I almost didn’t recognize my own face. I was beautiful and innocent looking. All of the horror and fear and grief passed in a moment. There was joy. It was a moving dream and at the time I didn’t know if it was for me personally or the world. I’ve thought often that it was mine alone because my life went through those things, but now I realize it was for our world also. I hope that we as a people are progressing along these lines and will be beautiful brides.
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