Relativity: the Cure

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~ 14th Dalai Lama

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If my weight is too high, my features too plain, my health too precarious, my finances too tight, I can always look around and find someone who faces greater challenges in those areas. Therein lies the trap: when uncomfortable, seek solace in comfort by comparison.

It seems that much of our measure of pain and pleasure and our sense of thankfulness and peace is based less on our experience in the moment and more on our perception of how this experience compares to that of others.

Comparison carries the pathogens of jealousy, greed, lust, revenge, envy and narcissism- permeating the thin membranes of our mind and the thin skin of our heart, tainting the meaning we assign to life events.

The condition is fed by gaining comfort by comparison, making it nearly impossible to focus on giving comfort through compassion.

If I can only appreciate my situation in relationship to the suffering or to the bounty of others, I don’t know anything about gratitude. And if I know nothing about gratitude, I have very little to offer in the way of compassion which is the antidote to the disease of comparison.

Compassion isn’t relative.

Compassion isn’t reserved for the worthy.

Compassion is what we owe each other simply based on our shared humanity and fragility.

True compassion is poured out freely in light of another’s path or plight, not meted out relative to our own circumstances. Compassion is the inoculation against the rampant contagion of comparison.

Comparison sickens. Compassion heals us. Gratitude keeps us well.

 

New Year’s Resolutions

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet and a new backbone, new ears and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things he will certainly do nothing effective. ~ G.K. Chesterton

Today we begin another new year.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t not make them because I don’t have areas of my life I need to change. I don’t make them but because I can’t afford to.

I’m pulled toward procrastination. I don’t think I procrastinate because I’m lazy. Usually, when I procrastinate, it’s because I don’t want to make a mistake.

If I’m not certain how to approach something, how to do or undo something, I can easily fall into doing nothing. I admire those bold people who don’t mind stepping right in it, knowing they can clean up afterwards. But I’m not one of them. I want to wait until the right moment, when I have just the right words or know the right way to go about something.

That’s why I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I know myself well enough to know that I have to take care of things as soon as I’m aware of them, before I have time to work out just the right approach. It doesn’t matter if I want to be a kinder person or become healthier or just coral my thoughts – there’s no magic on January 1st for me.

I have to begin each day before I start each day with a prayer to learn the lessons of grace: to give without expectation, to love without condition, to be gentle when harmed and hopeful when hurt.

In this new year, I’m not making resolutions, I’m praying for a make-over: a new soul and a new nose; new feet and a new backbone, new ears and new eyes – a new heart, today and every day.

With Grace and Gratitude

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience.                     ~ Thomas Merton
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It’s the day before Thanksgiving. Despite the name, I’m not sure there’s really that much thanks associated with Thanksgiving. It’s more about floats and food and family and football and that’s OK because Thanksgiving is a holiday.

There’s nothing in the definition of holiday that includes holiness or happiness. A holiday, according to Webster, is a day on which one is exempt from work. And even though 17% of US workers will spend Thanksgiving at work, most will find some way on some day to celebrate.

But because holidays receive a so much hype, it’s hard not to wrap them up in a glitzy mess of assumptions and expectations. On one hand, it’s easy to give way to the idea that everyone else is having a Norman Rockwell day. It’s equally easy to expect magic – to build in expectations that this day, this year, this time, will be different, will be perfect.

The reality is that holidays are intrinsically a celebration of life and love and blessings for some and a reminder of loss and loneliness and lack for others. Which they are for whom varies from year to year. But thankfulness, gratitude –  takes nothing for granted. It isn’t reserved for the 4th Thursday of November.

It’s not the state of Thanksgiving that concerns me, it’s the condition of my own heart on each and every day. Am I seeking to have a heart that’s rich with thankfulness and an awareness that God has already given me everything? Am I living a life so filled with grace that it spills out all over everywhere? Am I so steeped in gratitude that I take less and less for granted?

May this Thanksgiving and the day after and the day after that be days of grace and gratitude for each of us, simply because we know God is good, not by hearsay, but by experience.

Singing the ABCs

No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally, and often far more, worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.  ~ C.S. Lewis

When my 3 1/2 year old grand daughter is sick, she sings the ABCs in her sleep. There’s something about the letters and the rhythms that seem to comfort her. Letters, woven into words in a wide variety of ways, have long been a comfort to me.

Thank you, Drucilla@ Drucilla Mott for sharing the ABC Award with me. I believe the original instructions are: Add the logo to your site, pass it on to other bloggers, and then use the alphabet to make a list of words describing yourself so that your readers will learn more about you.

I’m passing this award along to:

Kate @ Believe Anyway

Melissa @ iamnotshe

Jen @ Step on a Crack

Jeff @ Revelling in the Overflowing Grace of God

Caddo @ Caddo Veil

Paulann @ Growthlines…

I’ve decided to vary a bit from the rules myself. I’m listing 2 books that I’ve enjoyed that begin with each letter. These aren’t necessarily my all time favorites as so many of the books I love seem to start with letters like T and S and G! But this will fulfill the intent of helping you get to know me a bit better and, hopefully, introduce you to a few new authors. The list is a random mix of genres. My apologies for not acknowledging other awards. I’ll try to get to them soon.

This prologue has taken 300 words so my 2 minutes are up. Scan the list at your leisure, if you wish. And thank you for your prayers! It looks like a job will be provided by the week’s end. You’ve prayed me into the middle of nowhere, so internet availability is in question. 😉

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AAnimal Farm– George Orwell; Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons– Lorna Ladvik

BBlack Like Me-John Howard Griffin; Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

CComplete Green Letters– Miles Stanford; Compassion– Henri Nouwen

DDelighting God– Victoria Brooks; Don’t Take My Grief Away– Doug Manning

EEmperor of the Air– Ethan Cain; Everlasting Man- G.K. Chesterton

FFairy Tales– George MacDonald; Farewell to Arms– Earnest Hemingway

GGood Night Moon– Margaret Wise Brown; Glass Castle– Jeanette Walls

H – (the) Help– Kathryn Stockett ; (the)Hobbit- J.R.R. Tolkien

IInterior Castle– Teresa of Avila; Inside Out- Larry Crabb

JJust Folks– Edward A. Guest; Jack Dwyer Series– Ed Gorman

KKeeping Faith– Jodi Picoult; (To) Kill a Mockingbird– Harper Lee

LLife Expectancy– Dean Koontz; Lillith– George MacDonald

M Metamorphosis– Franz Kafka; Memory Keeper’s Daughter– Kim Edwards

N No Man is an Island– Thomas Merton; Nineteen Eighty Four– George Orwell

OOdd Thomas– Dean Koontz; Of Mice and Men– John Steinbeck

P – Pilgrims Regress- C.S. Lewis; Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde

QQuiet in His Presence– Jan Harris; (Don) Quixote– Miguel de Cervantes 😀

RRagamuffin Gospel– Brennan Manning; Rule of Four- Ian Caldwell/ Dustin Thomason

SScrewtape Letters– C.S. Lewis; Shadow of the Almighty– Elizabeth Elliot

TThoughts on Solitude– Thomas Merton; Thinking in Pictures– Temple Grandin

U – (an) Unquiet Mind– Kay Redfield Jamison; Uprising: A Revolution of the Soul– Erwin Raphael McManus

V –  Velveteen Rabbit– Margery Williams; Voyage of the Dawn Treader– C.S. Lewis

W – What’s So Amazing About Grace– Philip Yancey : Wisdom of Tenderness– Brennan Manning

X – I can’t remember reading any books that begin with X?

Y – Your God is Too Small- J.B. Phillips; Ya Ya Sisterhood(the Divine Secrets)- Rebecca Wells 😀

ZZelda– F. Scott Fitzgerald – this is my one and only Z title

Old Long Since

Remember, no man is a failure who has friends!  ~Clarence Oddbody, AS2

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We sing it (or hear it) around this time every year. Auld Lang Syne. How funny that we so heartily join in singing a song that we can’t even translate. The meaning was near to the heart of the Scottish poet Robert Burns who penned – or he would say reworded  – the words, over 200 years ago.

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind ? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne? For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Although there are several more verses, most of us can’t sing beyond the first 40 words, a third of which are in Old Scotts. The individual words mean old long since, which, today we would probably render for old time’s sake.

So, for old time’s sake, as we’re busy evaluating the past year and setting goals for the new one, we remember. Our lives have been touched by many. Altered this past year by the new the friends we’ve made, and changed by death and by distance.

For auld lang syne, in tribute, in memory of old acquaintances held dear, and in gratitude for the new we share, lets take a cup of kindness. I think Clarence Oddbody, AS2 had it so very right. No one is a failure who has friends.


Late With My Thank You Notes

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.– William Arthur Ward

Whenever my son was given a gift, he thanked the giver before he even opened it. He was, and is, a gracious receiver.

Have you ever thanked someone, maybe for singing a beautiful song at church or writing a lovely verse, only to have them say something akin to Don’t thank me – to God be the Glory. While I think I understand the heart here, it always leaves me feeling chilly and exhorted.

In the blogging world, there are numerous awards. I’m fascinated by the different ways people react. Some receive them much like my son, so filled with gratitude that they thank you before your post is dry. There’s also the group that doesn’t believe in awards. Then there’s me: grateful for the gift but feeling at a loss and shy about it, I failed to write thank notes in a timely fashion.

Now I’m in a quagmire of gratitude. I have 3 awards to thank people for, with requirements of links to share and tales to tell – all in 2 minutes.

In September, I was given The Versatile Blogger award by 6 folks I failed to thank. (I hope it hasn’t expired?) A few days ago, I was gifted with the Candle Lighter Award and yesterday with the 7×7 Link Award.

To each of you who thought of me, I’m honored and I thank you in advance of opening my presents. I won’t post the badges until I meet the rest of the criteria. TMG is bound by the constraints of time, so today I will say THANK YOU so much with my encouragement to check out these gracious bloggers!

Thank you for The Versatile Blogger Award to:

SueBe @ One Writer’s Journey

Jeff @ Reveling in the Overflowing Grace of God

Carley @ Grace Partakers

Jeffery @ Memories of Caleb

MT @ Resting in His Grace

Drusilla @ On Faith and Writing

The Versatile Blogger Award has 2 steps that will require another post: sharing 7 things about myself and passing this award along to 15 other bloggers. I’ll aim for this tomorrow.

Thank you for The Candle Lighter Award to:

Kate @ Believe Anyway

The Candle Lighter Award is for a post or a blog that brings light to the world. The only thing the recipient is required to do is accept it. If the recipient thinks someone else is a Candle Lighter, they can give the award anytime they wish. There’s no limit to the number of times you can give or receive this award.

Thank you for the 7×7 Link Award to:

Drusilla @ On Faith and Writing

Susie @ SPTP 2011

The 7×7 Award requires matching 7 of your own posts to the 7 prescribed categories; nominate 7 blogs that you think are worthy of receiving the 7×7 Link Award, and finally, disclosing a secret about yourself (I think that makes it 7x7x1). I’ll work on this and post soon.

OK, well that was awkward, wasn’t it? I’m grateful to all of you who read TMG – you’re a true gift and I thank God for you every day. You keep my candle burning!

Friendship

 

Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the other do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”… In this kind of love, as Emerson said, “Do you love me?” means “Do you see the same truth?” – Or at least, “Do you care about the same truth?” The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our Friend. He need not agree with us about the answer. ~ C.S. Lewis



I’m off for a short holiday and then it’s back to the unemployment line as this temp job ends today. I likely won’t have any computer access for the next week or so. I was going to post a Monday song – but the internet won’t allow it today.

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I wish you a rich and sweet time of celebration. My heart is full of gratitude for so many things. But these two minutes are where I share my gratitude for you. Jack had it right again, didn’t he? We may not always agree on the answers, but we’re here, asking many of the same questions, caring about the same truth.

You who read and write and share your hearts here and on your own blogs are like coruscating jewels – giving light and sparkle to life – to my life.

I pray for safety for your travels; for moments of gratitude for the gifts; and for grace for the hardships that may come your way. You are a daily blessing in my life and I thank you.