Our True Heritage

By Thich Nhat Hanh

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.

I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.

Each moment you are alive is a gem, shining and containing earth and sky, water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently for the miracles to be displayed.

Suddenly you hear the birds singing, the pines chanting, see the flowers blooming, the blue sky, the white clouds, the smile and marvelous look of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth, who have been going around begging for a living, stop being the destitute child.

Come back and claim your heritage.

We should enjoy our happiness and offer it to everyone.

Cherish this very moment.

Let go of the stream of distress and embrace life fully in your arms.

 

What’s Right About Being Wrong

I am wrong, often.  And when I am, I feel terrible about it.  But what if something good could come from my errors?  What if the world could become a better place?  What if I could become a much better person?

When I make a mistake, my first instinct is to feel shame and I want to hide myself.  But maybe it’s an opportunity to feel humility and begin to forgive myself.  I’m not alone in my wrongful ways.  I could forgive someone else.  Why not me?

Apologies are next forthcoming.  I apologize – usually many times.  This is a good lesson in acceptance of our own behavior.  We have to be able to put into words what we have done wrong and how we have harmed another person.

Then the next thing I feel is the need to be forgiven by the other person.  To ask for and accept forgiveness is a true blessing.  It may not be easy but it is certainly necessary.

Making amends is the part that is most often forgotten.  Making things right again is hard. It takes time.  It takes effort.  It takes thought.  We think we’re done when we have been forgiven, but we’re not.  We need to make restitution.  That makes us stronger and more mindful of other people.

Then there is the final lesson to be learned from the entire event.  What is the positive thing you learned from your mistake?  Don’t let all the time and effort be a waste.  Make your life and yourself better for it.  Gain something from the experience.

That way you are less likely to allow the same error to occur.  You will improve and definitely become wiser.

I’m thinking that with all the mistakes I’ve made in my life, I should be perfect by now! Seriously!

But truthfully, mistakes are going to happen.  Make them growth opportunities.  Lean into them.  Admit to them.  Solve them.  Be better for them.  Learn the lesson.

Growing Older

I think I’m already old and there are so many things about my age I was not prepared for. Like the fact that it hurts to get out of bed in the morning.  Or the need for eve-increasing eyeglass prescriptions.  Or the fact that I now tip over so easily, kind of like a Weeble.

I’m not sure when this all happened.  Just sort of gradually over the years.  I know I don’t walk as fast as I used to and I certainly don’t run anymore.  I have arthritis in a couple of my fingers and my eyesight is definitely not what it used to be.  I forget more things but I am still able to learn new things.

My body has declined as I have aged.  That is a fact.  But I am still mobile and am still able to do my hand sewing.  Those are big gifts I have been given.

I am definitely a lot smarter and wiser than I’ve ever been.  Over the many years of experience, I have gained knowledge that is indispensable to me now.  It was earned, it was paid for, it is mine.

As I age, I gain wisdom and grace to deal with life in all its forms – the good and the difficult. Decisions become easier because I’ve tried many options in the past.  I’m now the one that passes that learning to the younger ones in the family.

So it seems to be a real balancing act.  As part of me is losing strength, another part is gaining.  I remember past days when I could do something that I no longer can do, but I also look forward to tomorrow when I will be better than I am today.

Which means every day is my best day.

What I’m Really Afraid Of

In these trying times, the TV is constantly telling us what we should fear – closeness, touching, disease, crowds, people, coughs, germs, viruses.  These things may be of concern to me, but I’m not really afraid.  There are other things that truly frighten me.

Allowing people, especially children, to live in hunger frightens me.  People are so damaged physically and psychologically by the effects of poor nutrition or no nutrition. That, in turn, damages our whole world.  We all become less by the loss of potential in others.   Leaders, teachers, thinkers and artists are lost because of poverty and hunger.

Allowing hate and bigotry to exist frightens me.  Judging people unfairly by their religion or skin color is so divisive.  Teaching children to hate others is so wicked as to be absolutely sinful.  Our world can’t abide any more division and war.

Allowing and participating in greed frightens me.  Greed leads to the oppression and subjugation of people.  There’s enough for everyone but not enough for everyone’s greed. To meet the needs of someone’s greed, someone else will always have to do without. Hence more poverty and hunger.

Abiding violence frightens me.  Our violent selves are our lesser selves and should not be tolerated.  What comes of violence is more violence, not peace.  And that really scares me.

These are the true dangers of our world, I believe.  These are the things we need be aware of and mindful of.

Even while we are quarantined, we can be aware of the needs of others.  We can be fair and kind to all people.  We can share the wealth with everyone.  We can be calm and gentle in all our interactions.

The treatment of the whole world starts with our treatment of every person in our small world.  How we act in every little situation will affect the entire universe.  We can do healing or harm with every spoken word.

Make every action count.  It will become your habit and your character.

A Letter To My Teenage Self

Dear Sweetie –

I know you’re busy being an active teenage girl, but I have some words of wisdom for you.  I have gained this wisdom through many years of experience and lots of trial and error.  I hope to relieve some of your anxiety and give you hope for the future.

Most importantly, know that the difficult times in life are survivable.  It may not seem that way now, but only because you have had such a short life and maybe so few hard times. Each success in hurtling a storm will make you more equipped to face the next one.  By the time you reach my age, you will be a master and a teacher, and others will look to you for counsel in the stressful times.

Don’t take yourself or anything else for that matter, too seriously.  Learn to see the humor in everyday life and you will always have a smile on your face. You will find that humor will get you through a lot of difficult situations.

Always tell the truth.  No matter what, tell the truth.  It shapes your character for the rest of your life.  Make your word and your signature your most solemn promise.

Meet all sorts of people and value diverse relationships.  Learn to make and maintain friendships.  Some of the people in your life now will remain close to you for the rest of your life.  Make good memories.

Try all sorts of interests.  Join after-school activities. Take up a musical instrument.  Try out for a team.  All these things help you discover your strengths and weaknesses – all good knowledge.  And they make you a more well-rounded person.

Don’t abuse drugs and alcohol – just don’t!!!  They bring you nothing but heartache and will steal your life.  They will take everything from you and I do mean everything – your money, your job, your family, your home, your friends, your name, your trust, your health and finally your very life.

Finally, have fun!   These are some of the best years of your life – enjoy them. Go to school with a positive attitude.  Attend school functions.  Spend time with friends and family. Explore hobbies and sports.  Keep a journal.  Look for ways to share with others.  Be goofy.

Have faith in yourself.  You will do well and will be successful.

Remember, I will always be here to help you.

Your grown-up self

How I Learned To Forgive

When my son Ken got married, we were all very excited.  It seemed, at the time, like a perfect match.  As time progressed, we learned more about Amy and saw more of her true character.

She turned out to be a very hurtful person and we saw odd changes in our son.  Amy was also physically abusive to Ken and he showed many signs of an abused spouse.  He started to become less than his best self.

When the breakup finally came, our son was a broken man and Amy was blaming me for everything.  Ken cried harder than I had ever seen a grown man cry.

He grieved so hard for all his losses, including the two stepsons he had come to love so dearly.  He became almost non-functional for a time.

To say I came to hate Amy would be an understatement.  Truly I had never had such feelings for any human being in my life.  She had damaged my loving son, intentionally with no regrets.   I couldn’t believe my negative feelings towards her.

I was going to hurt her with my negative thoughts. Get revenge with my hateful mind. Maybe damage her the way she had damaged my sweet son.

But the person I was hurting the most was me.  I couldn’t sleep.  I had headaches.   My blood pressure was up and I thought about Amy all day.  My life was now being taken by her and I was allowing it to happen.

I had to learn to forgive Amy or become a cripple.   First step was wishing her no harm. That came with a lot of prayer and the counsel of others.  After months of work, I could honestly say I wished her no harm and did not fantasize about her death any longer.  (Yes, I had real issues with her!).

Next step was being able to wish her well.  That also was very hard.  I had to keep visualizing her two boys and wanting the best mother for them.  To do that, I had to think of her being her best self.

I don’t know that any of this has changed Amy but I am now able to sleep, have no more headaches and my blood pressure has returned to normal.  I don’t think about her anymore, except very rarely.  And when I do, I wish her all the best.

I am certainly the better for it.

How The Barter System Works In Coronavirus Land

Gramps and I did not do any stock-up shopping at the beginning of the virus outbreak.  We had what we needed at the time and the thought of the world running out of toilet paper never occurred to us.

So last week we were running low on paper products, including tp.  But by that time the stores were completely empty of anything paper.  Even Amazon was sold out.

As it happened, I made chocolate chip cookies one day and thought I should share them with our daughter and grandson Mac.  Mac says I make the “best” chocolate chip cookies ever.  Music to my heart!

They assured us they would love some cookies.  So over to their house we went with cookies in hand.

We had a lovely visit.  We talked and shared and laughed.  Until the subject of toilet paper came up.  How many stores did you go to?  How many rolls did the store have?  How many rolls do you have?

Finally we confessed we were down to three rolls.  (Can you believe this is what we’re talking about?!).  Our daughter offered to give us some from her supply, as she had just found a large package the day before.

We were saved!  Chocolate chip coolies for tp.  The going rate appears to be one dozen cookies for four rolls of toilet paper.  Not bad really.  They stay fed and we stay dry.