Exploring the meaning of life…

Archive for September, 2011

How Do You Handle Pain?

 Much of your pain is self-chosen.  It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.  Therefore, trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility: For this hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen…Kahlil Gibran.

No one wants to feel pain.  In fact, most of us will do whatever it takes to avoid feeling pain.  The problem is that pain is a good teacher and is trying to alert us that something is wrong.  Pain is usually what brings a sick patient to the doctor.  But what about emotional pain?  As a society we have developed many defense mechanisms to avoid pain – we drink, we do drugs, we change lovers, we change marital partners, we spend money, just to name a few – and we convince ourselves that all our actions are justified and necessary.

So, what is wrong with that?  What is wrong is that the pain always returns until we deal with it, completely and honestly.  If we just push it down deeper in our heart and soul, we become ill, both physically and spiritually.  All neurosis is born of pain.  Facing it and dealing with it is the only way to take away its power, which is what we all want to do.  Our being always strives for homeostasis, harmony and balance.  When that harmony isn’t possible, your body sends you signals that something if wrong.  Our job is above all to face the pain with truth and not try to extinguish the pain through drugs, alcohol, or whatever defense mechanism you use.  I had a friend that used to say, “If something doesn’t kill you, you can learn from it.”  Life’s lessons are sometimes hard ones, so learn it the first time so you don’t have to suffer the pain over and over.  How do we do that?  That is part of your journey to discover.  The first thing we must do is to become aware that we are employing some type of defense mechanism and ask ourselves, why?  You’ll find that life wants to communicate the answers to you; you must be ready to receive them.

Have a happy journey!                       

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The Kingdom of God is Within You

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    Leo Tolstoy

     

  • Joy can be real only if people look on their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness. – Leo Tolstoy-

 

Leo Tolstoy is a name that most people know from his brilliant books War and Peace and Anna Karenina.  However, I believe that his most important works were written after these and after he experienced a true conversion experience.  Just like the Apostle Paul, he had a crisis in his personal life.  He had not lived in a Godly manner.  He came to question everything about his own life and mankind in general.  He felt empty inside and knew he must find a purpose to life or he had no reason to carry on.  He found his answer in the Bible in Luke 17:21:

Tolstoy felt overwhelmed with man’s inhumanity to his fellow man, especially as it took the shape of violence and murder.  In his book, The Kingdom of God Is Within You, he advocates a non-violent society, a subject that Gandhi advanced after reading Tolstoy’s book while he was imprisoned.  Banned by the government of Russia, the book was published in Germany.  Tolstoy believed that there were two possibilities for mankind – to live for gratification and material security or to live for the advancement of the spiritual soul.  He wrote of these choices in his masterpiece The Death of Ivan Ilych, which is well worth the time to read.  It is the heartbreaking story of one man’s life and death.  The protagonist, Ivan Ilych, lived his life for purely material gratification and status in Russian society.  He doesn’t realize the fallacy of this until death is imminent, and sadly, when he died, his family still believed the lie. 

Tolstoy lived his beliefs.  He gave away his material possessions and sought to live as Jesus advocated in the Sermon on the Mount.  At age 83, he denounced his rank and privileges and put on the dress of the peasant.  He gave all his possessions to his family and peasants and set out on foot.  He later caught a chill and died in a stationmaster’s house.  By his death, his fellow Russians took note of the changes in his life after finding Jesus Christ.

Tolstoy is not without criticism for his beliefs and philosophies, as are most people who want to take a stand for Jesus Christ.  Read through his later books and make that determination for yourself.  I don’t think you will regret it!

 Have a happy journey!

 

  

The Miracle of Helen Keller

 I’ve read biographies of Helen Keller all my life and it is still one of the most remarkable miracles I’ve ever known.  But there are  facets of her story that are new to me.  I ran across this picture of Helen and her dog Jumbo today and I realized that she is signing to the dog.  Researching it a bit I found this quote from Helen:

“After my education began, the world which came within my reach was all alive.  I spelled to my blocks and my dogs.  I sympathized with plants when the flowers were picked, because I thought it hurt them and that they grieved for their lost blossoms.  It was years before I could be made to believe that my dogs did not understand what I said, and I always apologized to them when I ran into or stepped on them.” 

When I thought about my own love of dogs, the idea occured to me that perhaps Helen’s dogs did understand her.  Not because she was signing letters in their hands, but in a way that the world of nature communicates – a wordless wonder of life.  In a way, we are limited in our abilities to communicate in that we rely on vision and hearing predominately.  But what about Helen who had neither sense?  She writes:

“I have just touched my dog.  He was rolling on the grass, with pleasure in every muscle and limb.  I wanted to catch a picture of him in my fingers and I touched him as lightly as I would cobwebs…He pressed close to me, as if he were fain to crowd himself into my hand…If he could speak, I believe he would say with me that paradise is attained by touch; for in touch is all love and intelligence.”

 Had it not been for Alexander Graham Bell and Anne Sullivan, we might never have discovered the capabilities of the human mind.  We might still think, as did most people in those times, that the deaf and blind belonged in institutions.  Finding her way out of the darkness that trapped her was miracle enough, but that she graduated cum laude from Radcliffe college in 1904 is amazing.  She was the first blind and deaf person to ever receive a college degree. 

She learned to write letters that she had never seen.  Helen once said:  “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”  I wish we all could live life as Helen did.  She remains a miracle and inspiration for us all.

Dedicated to the many
men and women in the
Deaf Education
program at the
University of Tulsa.

Respecting Parents

 A frail old man lived with his son, his daughter-in-law, and his four-year-old grandson.  His eyes were blurry, his hands trembled and his step faltered.  The family would eat together nightly at the dinner table.  But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating rather difficult.  Peas rolled off his spoon, drooping to the floor.  When he grasped his glass of milk, it often spilled clumsily on the tablecloth.

With this happening almost every night, the son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess and decided they must do something about the grandfather.

So, the couple set a small table in the corner of the room.  There, the grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed their dinner at the dinner table.  Since the grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.  Sometimes when the family glanced in the grandfather’s direction, he had a tear in his eye as he ate alone.  Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.  The child watched it all in silence.  

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor.  He asked the child sweetly: “What are you making?”  Just as sweetly, the boy replied,”Oh, I’m making a little bowl for you and mama to eat your food from when I grow up.”  The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

These words so struck the parents that they were speechless.  Then tears streamed down their cheeks.  Though no words were spoken, both knew what must be done.  That evening, the husband took the grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table.

For the remainder of his days, the grandfather ate every meal with the family.  And for some reason, neither husband or wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk was spilled or the table cloth was soiled. -Anonymous-

Here’s hoping that we all will treat our parents in a loving, respectful manner.  We will all be there someday.

Are you wearing a mask?

 Are you wearing a mask?

 

Are you free to be you?

 

 

 

The Mask

When I can take away my mask
and face life without guilt
or shame that I am who I am
the poles begin to tilt.

Then time’s a useless entity
and matter needs no space.
What is exists in harmony
and what was will be erased.

Until another struggling soul
wants more than eyes can see
and knows that any price is worth
the chance of being free.

S.L. Galletano

Do you find yourself plodding through life with a mask on so others will not see who you really are?  Part of living in peace and harmony is being who you really are and embracing it.   None of us are close to being perfect.  Mistakes happen every day and will continue to happen for that is the nature of life.  We must learn from them and not hide them.  Life presents us with opportunities every day to learn, we just need to take off our masks and face our fears. 

 

 

 

 

 

How Heavy are Your Potatoes? A Story of Forgiveness

                                                                                              A teacher once told each of her students to bring a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes to school.  For every person they refused to forgive in their life’s experience, they chose a potato, wrote on it the name and date, and put it in the plastic bag.

Some of their bags were quite heavy.  They were then told to carry this bag with them everywhere for one week, putting it beside their bed at night, on the car seat when driving, and next to their desk at school.

The hassle of lugging this around with them made it clear what a weight they were carrying around spiritually and how  they had to pay attention to it all the time.  Naturally, the condition of the potatoes deteriorated to a nasty smelly slime.  This was a great metaphor for the price we pay for keeping our pain and heavy negativity!  Too often we think of forgiveness as a gift to the other person and clearly is for ourselves!  – from Cranberry Corners – www.grandmalyn.com

Forgiving someone can be one of the most exhilerating experiences of your life!  I used to work in a drug and alcohol treatment center.  One thing I found common to addicts and alcoholics, as with most of us, is that they carried with them the excess baggage of unforgiveness.  It makes us sick to harbor anger and unforgiveness for someone.  But, you say, they don’t deserve to be forgiven.  You aren’t forgiving them because they deserve it; you are forgiving them because you deserve it.  Unforgiveness lets them live rent free in your head and heart, causing you great emotional harm and a huge load of bitterness.  Acknowledge the pain and the hurt they may have caused you, then let it all go to God.   All you have to be is willing to forgive; God does the rest.  I don’t have words to describe the joy that will come into your heart, but it is waiting right around the corner for you.  Make this your day to forgive!

Have a happy journey!

 

 

Triumph Over Adversity

 

Bob Richards, the former pole-vault champion, shares a moving story about a skinny young boy who loved football with all his heart.  Practice after practice, he eagerly gave everything he had.  But being half the size of the other boys, he got absolutely nowhere.  At all the games, this hopeful young man sat on the bench and hardly ever played.  This teenager lived alone with his father and the two of them had a very special relationship.  Even though his son was always on the bench, the father was always there to cheer for him.

When he entered high school, he was still the smallest boy in his class.  His father continued to encourage him, but also made it clear that he did not have to play football if he didn’t want to.  But the boy loved football and wanted to continue.  He hoped that maybe by the time he was a senior he might get to play.  All through high school he never missed a practice or a game, but remained a bench-warmer all four years.

His father was always in the stands and always had words of encouragement for him.  When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for the team as a “walk-on.”  The coach admitted that he kept him on the roster because he always put his heart and soul into every practice, and provided the team with spirit and hustle.  During his four years at college, he never missed a practice, but did not get to play in a game.  His father had season tickets and never missed a game.                                           

It was the end of his senior football season and as he trotted onto the practice field, his coach handed him a telegram.  The boy became deathly quiet.  He said to his coach, “My father died this morning.  Is it all right if I miss practice today?”
The coach put his arm around him and said, “Take the rest of the week off, son.  And you don’t even need to plan to come back for the game on Saturday.”

Saturday arrived and the game was not going well.  In the third quarter, when the team was ten points behind, the young man quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football gear.  As he ran to the sidelines, the coach and his players were astounded to see their faithful teammate back so soon.

“Coach, please let me play.  I’ve just got to play today,” said the young man. The coach pretended not to hear him.  But the young man persisted, and finally he agreed to put him in. 

“Alright,” he said.  “You can go in.”   

     Before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown, who had never played before was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. He ran, he passed, blocked, and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph.

The score was soon tied. In the closing seconds of the game, this kid intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the winning touchdown. The fans broke loose. His teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders. Such cheering you’ve never heard before.

Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that this young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone. The coach came to him and said, “Kid, I can’t believe it. You were fantastic! Tell me what got into you? How did you do it?” He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said, “Well, you knew my dad died, but did you know that my dad was blind?” The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, “Dad came to all my games, but today was the first time he could see me play, and I wanted to show him I could do it!”

We all want to win, but sometimes we lose sight of the more important things.  Sometimes it really IS about how we play the game, because how we play sports will affect how we live our lives.

This post is dedicated to my favorite athletes – The Tulsa Golden Hurricanes and the Tulsa Spirit Squads.   If you didn’t stay up late on Saturday night, you might not even know that they played until the early morning hours of Sunday, eating peanut butter sandwiches at half-time.  They played after a lightning storm postponed the game, making the field wet and slippery.  They played after G.J. Kinne was taken out of the game by a late hit in the first quarter and Kalen Henderson was called upon to lead his teammates.  Ja’Terian Douglas rushed for 173 yards and Trey Watts rushed for 159 yards, career highs for both players.   They didn’t make excuses or explanations.  And I believe they triumphed over the odds when the deck was stacked against them and that makes them champions in my book!                                                     

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