quote du jour ~lesser – so what to do…?

So, what to do with the hurt? With the anxiety? With the not-knowing? I’ve spent my life plumbing this conundrum. The best answer I have come up with is to flail around until I get bored with the anxiety itself, tired of fighting the river’s ebbs and flow. Eventually I lay back on the dark waters. I float in what we call faith, but that word is too flimsy–it has has too few letters and not enough heft and hope to adequately describe what it means to trust beyond knowing, to accept beyond imagining. Faith is something glorious, something leaping, something even delicious.

~Elizabeth Lesser, Facebook post, July 6, 2013

post du jour ~elizabeth lesser

Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and social activist once said that as he grew older he came to understand that it was not ideas that changed the world, but simple gestures of love given to the people around you, and sometimes to those you feel most at odds with. He wrote that in order to save the world, you must serve the people in your life. “You gradually struggle less and less for an idea,” Merton wrote, “and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”

Over the past few months my activity has revolved around my sister’s illness and her treatment and family. I had thought maybe my world would feel smaller as I stopped traveling and speaking as much as I usually do, as I scaled back at work, as I said “no” to invitations and events. But the opposite is true. My world is bigger than ever, if love is the measuring stick. When ego is the measuring the stick, the world never feels big enough. But love makes big from small.

I am not saying we should abandon all efforts to save the world, Continue reading

excerpt du jour ~broken open, by elizabeth lesser

A prayer for being brave and open on the journey of life…

Drum sounds rise on the air,
and with them, my heart.
A voice inside the beat says,
I know you are tired,
but come.
This is the way.

May you listen to the voice within the beat even when you are tired. When you feel yourself breaking down, may you break open instead. May every experience in life be a door that opens your heart, expands your understanding, and leads you to freedom. If you are weary, may you be aroused by passion and purpose. If you are blameful and bitter, may you be sweetened by hope and humor. If you are frightened, may you be emboldened by a big consciousness far wiser than your fear. If you are lonely, may you find love, may you find friendship. If you are lost, may you understand that we are all lost, and still we are guided—by strange angels and sleeping giants, by our better and kinder natures, by the vibrant voice within the beat. May you follow that voice, for This is the way—the hero’s journey, the life worth living, the reason we are here.

~Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow

quote du jour ~lesser

If we can stay awake when our lives are changing, secrets will be revealed to us–secrets about ourselves, about the nature of life, and about the eternal source of happiness and peace that is always available, always renewable, already within us.

~Elizabeth Lesser

bozos on the bus (excerpt from broken open) ~elizabeth lesser

We’re all bozos on the bus,
so we might as well sit back
and enjoy the ride.

~Wavy Gravy

One of my heroes is the clown-activist, Wavy Gravy. He is best known for a role that he played in 1969, when he was the master of ceremonies at the Woodstock festival. Since then, he’s been a social activist, a major “fun-d” raiser for good causes, a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor, an unofficial hospital chaplain, and the founder of a children’s camp for inner city kids. Every four years he campaigns as a candidate for president of the United States, under the pseudonym of Nobody, making speeches all over the country, with slogans like “Nobody for President,” “Nobody’s Perfect,” and “Nobody Should Have That Much Power.” He’s a seriously funny person, and a person who is serious about helping others. “Like the best of clowns,” wrote a reporter in The Village Voice, “Wavy Gravy makes as a big fool of himself as is necessary to make a wiser man of you. He is one of the better people on earth.”

Wavy (I’m on a first-name basis with him from clown workshops he’s offered at Omega) is a master of one-liners, like the famous one he delivered on the Woodstock stage: Continue reading

book review – broken open, by elizabeth lesser

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog in the last couple of weeks, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve posted a number of quotes from Elizabeth Lesser’s book Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow. A couple of you even asked if I would write a review of the book (which I had already considered doing), so here are my thoughts. Continue reading

quote du jour ~lesser – at any given moment…

At any given moment…you have your soul—what [Viktor] Frankl called the last of the human freedoms, the freedom to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. When you exercise the last of the human freedoms—when you choose to learn and to grow from the weight of the world—you are putting your soul in charge of your life. You are choosing not the attitude of your smaller and more fearful self but rather the attitude of your soul, which is hopeful, expansive, and eternal. You are living for the deeper truth hidden in the pain of circumstance…

~Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open

quote du jour ~lesser – in the end, what will matter…

In the end, what will matter is how much we loved—our children, our mates, our families, our friends, everyone we knew, everyone who traveled with us during our brief visit to this unbearably lovely place. What will matter is the good we did, not the good we expected others to do.

~Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open

quote du jour ~lesser – excerpt from “broken open”

In the difficult are the friendly forces,
the hands that work on us.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Every shift in our life comes courtesy of the friendly forces; every catastrophe can hand us exactly what we need to awaken into who we really are. It’s difficult, though, when you’re in the middle of a painful transition, to mine the experience for inner growth. And when your life falls apart, it’s a lot easier to blame someone else, to rail against fate, or to shut down to the hopeful messages carried on the winds of change. Sometimes, when friends try to help by saying, “There’s a reason for everything,” or “It’s a blessing in disguise,” you just want to run away, or you want to say, “Yeah, if it’s such a blessing, then why does it hurt so much?” Continue reading

quote du jour ~lesser – adversity is a natural part of being human…

Adversity is a natural part of being human. It is the height of arrogance to prescribe a moral code or health regime or spiritual practice as an amulet to keep things from falling apart. Things do fall apart. It is in their nature to do so. Continue reading