The gift of presence

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Some reflections on love, for the day that is in it…

The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved.

It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is.

When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.

Parker Palmer, The Gift of Presence, The Perils of Advice

There is no way into presence except through a love exchange.


photo Ian McKenzie

Taking people for granted

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Day and night,  gifts keep pelting down on us.

If we were aware of this, gratefulness would overwhelm us. But we go through life in a daze.

A power failure makes us aware of what a gift electricity is; a sprained ankle lets us appreciate walking as a gift, a sleepless night, sleep.

How much we are missing in life

by noticing gifts only when we are suddenly deprived of them.

David Steindal-Rast

photo: forS

Stubborn refusal

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The path of love is not the absence of fear. Real love is made possible through vulnerability. Vulnerability is the possibility of having one’s heart open enough to let love in, and also let pain in.  The path of love is not the avoiding of suffering, but the welcoming of joy and suffering alike, the way a gracious host would.

So no, the path of love is not being impervious to fear.

It is simply the stubborn refusal to let fear have the last word.

Omid Safi, We must Cling to Love

photo Eric kilby

A Generous spirit

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When we are stressed we have a tendency to close in on ourselves, to measure our time, fixate on our problems and not notice a lot that is happening around us. We think that this is the best way to protect our energy and our heart. Paradoxically, however, it seems that another strategy is more helpful,  going against the voice within us and turning outwards, noticing small details in the day and reaching out to others. An East African proverb reminds us You can share even if you have a little.  It may be just noticing how good the coffee tastes, a smile, a friendly phone call, a helping hand, making someone welcome.   This quotation from Cormac McCarthy reminds us to create little moments of generosity, of connection, of celebration, even when our life seems barren. There will be innumerable little moments in a day to be kind, even if our hearts do not feel like it.

When you’ve got nothing else, construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.

Cormac McCarthy, The Road

A generous heart is never lonesome. A generous heart has luck. The lonesomeness of contemporary life is partly due to the failure of generosity. Increasingly we complete with each other for  goods, for image, and for status.

John O’Donoghue, Eternal Echoes

Letting life’s lessons sink in

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Another post inspired by the season of Lent, but a reminder for all of the value in slowing down, making space, “meandering” in life, rather than always focusing on driven, purpose-filled activities.

More than giving up or self-denial, Lent, when practiced intentionally, can allow time for self-examination, reflection, and preparation. It’s a time of slowing down, intentionally, so that life is given a chance to sink in, not just run off in so many directions. Induced meandering, if you will.  The slowing that is an inherent part of Lent is not just for the sake of slowing down, but so that life can sink in. In so doing, this season of irrigation provides health and vitality long after its rains have passed. Lent offers us an opportunity to slow down, to meander rather than to rush, to allow life to sink in a bit, to find ways to go deeper and not always stay on the surface. A time to observe, to pay attention, and then to act — and in so doing provide the space to move from rush to replenish. When we take this practice seriously, we plant its blessings so that they benefit not only us in our lives for this season, but also extend to the world around us.

Erin Dunigan, The Induced Meandering of the Lenten Season

….Time for others

AnamChara : Soul Friendship

Being able to focus on the other person rather than the text you just received has become the new fundamental requirement for having a relationship with that person. If you go to a restaurant these days, for instance, you see people sitting together, at the same table, staring at their video screens, their phone, their iPad, or whatever it may be — and not talking to each other. That’s become the new norm. And what it means is that the connection is being damaged to some extent — threatened by the fact that we’re together, but we’re not together. We’re alone together.

Daniel Goldman, Is Attention the Secret to Emotional Intelligence