With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.
~Wayne W. Dyer
The quote above probably causes most of us a good bit of consternation. It’s a tough either/or situation. Okay, so I might be able to drag myself out of having a pity party with some situations, but treating something truly awful as a gift? I have struggled with this more than once, beginning with my father’s death when I was sixteen.
I think timing is a big factor in tragic situations, such as the unthinkable loss of a child. One must have time and space, sometimes years, to absorb such a heart-wrenching loss. And yet…we’ve all seen stories of loved ones who used the illness or death of a child or other family member to galvanize themselves into action—to start a non-profit or other campaign to help other families facing a similar illness or to reform gun control or to alert others to the dangers of drinking and driving. Choosing to take such actions certainly becomes a gift to countless others, and I think it becomes a gift to the loved ones as well, in that it allows the family members to move forward, to turn their loss into something positive and not remain stuck in the past. Continue reading
The ego tries to convince us that we must do things to achieve enlightenment. The spirit knows that enlightenment is not a matter of doing, but a magnificent consequence of being.
A few months back, I wrote about the challenges of following the spiritual path, which more often than not involves long stretches of not being able to see where you’re going or why, climbing and climbing an uphill route with no idea what you’ll find when you get to the top and can finally glimpse the next leg of your journey. Sometimes when you get to the top, you’re no more enlightened: you may find yourself standing at the top of the hill looking down at a fog-filled valley, unyielding and inscrutable.
The curve balls (lessons?) along the way can be jarring and disorienting, making it hard to keep one’s footing and stay on the path—especially the big ones, like divorce or the loss of a job, the ones that really turn your life on its ear and make you wonder, How the hell am I going to get through this, and what is my life going to look like when I do? Continue reading
Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world.
Whatever is happening, whatever is changing, whatever is going or not going according to my plans—I release my hold on all of it. I leave behind who I think I am, who I want to be, what I want the world to be. I come home to the great peace of the present moment.
~Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow
You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.
Umstead State Park, Raleigh, NC – Photo by Viki Atkinson
There’s a quote that’s been around for years, something along the lines of “growing old ain’t for sissies.” I’d like to propose that living your life by following (or trying to follow) spiritual guidance ain’t for sissies, either.
That stepping out in faith thing? A lot of the time it’s like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in which he comes upon an impossibly wide bottomless abyss that he has to cross to continue his quest—only there’s no bridge or Tarzan swing or anything that might help him do that. His only option is to take a step out over the abyss and hope like hell something will happen to help him across. When he finally does step out (spoiler alert!), his foot lands on something solid—invisible, but solid. So he takes another step, and he makes it all the way across on an invisible bridge that never would have shown itself if he hadn’t taken that first trusting step.
For five or six years now, I’ve been feeling as though I’m being led to and prepared for some…purpose…and yet the specifics of that purpose remain elusive. Continue reading
If light is in your heart, you will find your way home.
Some days, just getting through the day is like slogging through molasses. Sometimes, even when you can list a thousand things for which you are immensely grateful, and point to many things that are going well, the wet blanket of all-that’s-wrong/all-that’s-lacking/all-that-could-go-wrong covers everything, even the good stuff, in a heavy, grey, cloudy mass. Eventually, you reach a point where trying to throw off the blanket seems like so. much. work.
How do you get out of those periods? How do you scrabble your way up through the murk to the light again? I don’t think there’s one way that’s right for everyone. However, I do think there is a truth inherent in such periods of darkness. This truth is that, just as the body signals disease with physical symptoms, these periods of dark discomfort let us know there is something that needs our attention, something that needs to be looked at more closely, something that we’ve been sweeping under the rug, hiding behind the door, shutting away in a closet.
This is where I’ve been in recent months. First, I swept because I was busy. Then I hid because I was exhausted and not ready to look. Then I shut because it had become too painful. Continue reading
Whither will my path yet lead me? This path is stupid, it goes in spirals, perhaps in circles, but whichever way it goes, I will follow it.
~Hermann Hesse, Siddaharta
If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.
What we reach for may be different, but what makes us reach is the same.
~Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening