Be Still. Listen to the Stones of the Wall

Missionrose
“In silence, we most readily preserve our integrity.” – Meister Eckhart

Maintaining silence is healing. It means removing not just speech, but all extraneous thought and chatter. It means quieting the mind.

It is something I say I want to do, but don’t do as often as I should. The chatter in my head is incessant, constant, distracting, numbing.

Often I am so concerned with the minutia of the moment, the constant movement and flow of daily life, I forget to just stop and breathe. Meditation is healing, and yet I don’t do it as I should.

So, a pact with myself: I will turn to meditation every morning, and even maybe a brief time in the evenings before bed, to be grateful. To thank the Universe for the many blessings that fall upon me every day, for the loved ones – dear friends and clients – who make my life so richly rewarding.

I embrace it all, even the unknown, and step into the breach, off the ledge, trusting that wherever I land will be the place I am meant to be.

I am whole.

I am loved.

I am grateful.

I am enough. (Thank you, Brené Brown.)

 

The Glass is Half Full

I met a man recently. We were chatting amiably, the way two people do who are testing to see if there’s common ground for deeper connection. Asking what the other person does, where they live, where they’ve been, all the usual things. Somehow the question of optimism came up.

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I told him I am an optimist by nature. I believe in the inherent goodness of human beings – that evil acts and evil people are aberrations of the human spirit.

He said he, on the other hand, was very much a pessimist.

I asked him why. I’ve never had anyone tell me that before. Of course, I’ve met people I would consider pessimistic, but never someone who so consciously declared it, with no inkling of regret or sadness.

“I’m Jewish,” he said, “and European. I’m inherently pessimistic.”

As a child, he grew up in a city that had been bombed by the Germans to almost nothing. He experienced the travesty of the Holocaust. Also, he explained, Jews do not believe in an afterlife, so what’s the point of hope?

It’s an interesting perspective, one I confess confounded me.

I was raised Catholic. I grew up believing that something wonderful awaited me, if only I hewed to the values and expectations of Christianity. I would be rewarded with Heaven. While I haven’t considered myself a Catholic in many, many years, hope remains strong with me.

As an American, I hold in my cells the call to independence, to adventure, to seeking a better life and believing it’s there, just around the corner. There’s always something glorious waiting – “the shining city on the hill” – my friend said, quoting Ronald Reagan.
Reagan took that phrase from Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony John Winthrop’s exhortation as he sailed toward the colony aboard a ship in 1630. He wrote: “For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.” (From Life and Letters of John Winthrop, by Robert Winthrop, 1867.)

There have been many references to Winthrop’s “city on a hill” over the years, notably in a speech by Walter Mondale in 1984, and John F. Kennedy cited it in 1961. But it was Reagan’s reference to a “shining city on a hill” in his farewell speech upon leaving office in 1989 that is most remembered today.

Yes, I think my new friend is right: Americans are perhaps ridiculously optimistic. And I agree as well that a Christian influence is at play here. Aren’t we all hoping for some version of the Pearly Gates? But there is something more, a more basic belief system at work.

I couldn’t live without hope. Without knowing that in the end, the basic goodness of humanity will out. Will triumph over evil. Else why would we get up every morning? I have to believe that all will work out in the end. That the good guys will win. It’s not Pollyanna-ish (though I’m sure many would call it that). It’s the only way I could move through the day, could face the hard stuff, accept the disappointments and devastations. I have to believe it will all be okay in the end. It’s how I choose to live. I can’t imagine any other way.

Quote of the Day - Colette

You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm. - Colette

Here's what I love about this quote: It says go ahead and make a fool of yourself. Everyone does, and it's the only way to learn and grow. I have certainly done my share of foolish things, and I can say often they have taken me in a new, creative and prosperous direction.  

Quote of the Day - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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I was strolling through the Old Mission rose garden a couple of weeks ago, and photographed this rose. It reminded me of how much we miss by worrying about things we can't do anything about: This moment is all that matters; do not let it go to waste with thoughts of past transgressions or frets about the future.

 

"Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson