Reaching Sunward

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

I Am a Constitution Voter

I Am a Constitution Voter

  • I believe that no one — including the President — is above the law.
  • I oppose all forms of torture, and I support both closing the Guantánamo Bay prison and ending indefinite detention.
  • I oppose warrantless spying.
  • I believe that government officials, no matter how high-ranking, should be held accountable for breaking the law and violating the Constitution.
  • I believe that the Constitution protects every person’s rights equally — no matter what they believe, how they live, where or if they worship, and whom they love.
  • I reject the notion that we have to tolerate violations of our most fundamental rights in the name of fighting terrorism.
  • I am deeply committed to the Constitution and expect our country’s leaders to share and act on that commitment — every day, without fail.

If you agree, click here.

Take a refreshing look at the Constitution here.

The Bill of Rights consists of the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, and limits the powers of the federal government of the United States, protecting the rights of all citizens, residents and visitors on United States territory:

  • Second Amendment: defines the right of States in keeping and maintaining militias and the right of individuals to possess firearms.
  • Third Amendment: prohibits the government from using private homes as quarters for soldiers during peacetime without the consent of the owners. The only existing case law regarding this amendment is a lower court decision in the case of Engblom v. Carey.[15]
  • Sixth Amendment: guarantees a speedy public trial for criminal offenses. It requires trial by a jury, guarantees the right to legal counsel for the accused, and guarantees that the accused may require witnesses to attend the trial and testify in the presence of the accused. It also guarantees the accused a right to know the charges against him. The Sixth Amendment has several court cases associated with it, including Powell v. Alabama, United States v. Wong Kim Ark, Gideon v. Wainwright, and Crawford v. Washington. In 1966, the Supreme Court ruled that the fifth amendment prohibition on forced self-incrimination and the sixth amendment clause on right to counsel were to be made known to all persons placed under arrest, and these clauses have become known as the Miranda rights.
  • Seventh Amendment: assures trial by jury in civil cases.
  • Eighth Amendment: forbids excessive bail or fines, and cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Ninth Amendment: declares that the listing of individual rights in the Constitution and Bill of Rights is not meant to be comprehensive; and that the other rights not specifically mentioned are retained elsewhere by the people.
  • Tenth Amendment: provides that powers that the Constitution does not delegate to the United States and does not prohibit the States from exercising, are “reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  ~ From Wikipedia

Know your rights. Protect them by voting accordingly.

Got Hope??

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The Important Moments in Life

“Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings,  not the great goals achieved.  The real milestones are less prepossessing.  They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave.  Our lives are measured by these.” ~ Susan B. Anthony

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to start a new journal with a catalogue of your most important life moments.  Describe each of the moments.  Include drawings, pictures, cuttings, clippings, a list of people who were there, a reference to the song that was playing, what scent was on the breeze, how you felt, how it makes you feel to remember the moment now.  There is no limit to the number of moments you catalog.  They can be moments that were happy, sad, life-changing, or quiet moments of appreciation or epiphany.  Update your journal as memories come back to you. Update your journal as your life goes on.  Include in your journal a list of important moments that haven’t happened yet but that you wish for.  Turn back to the list some years from now and see if those wishes came true.  Make copies of your journal or parts of it and share it with your loved ones.  Leave your journal to your children or your friends when you pass on.  This is one of the true records of *you*.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~ Thornton Wilder

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How a wristwatch or a cookie can save your life

Harold Crick: Am I OK?
Doctor Mercator: [with facial indifference] Well, you’re not dead. On the other hand, it looks like you cracked your head, you broke three bones in your leg and foot, you suffered four broken ribs, fractured your left arm, and severed an artery in your right arm, which should’ve killed you in a matter of minutes, but amazingly, a shard of metal from your watch obstructed the artery, keeping the blood loss low enough to keep you alive… which is pretty cool.
Harold Crick: Wow.

Kay Eiffel: As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren’t any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And, so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick.

~ From Stranger Than Fiction

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Enlightenment Tools

In Transcending the Levels of Consciousness, David Hawkins offers “Simple Tools of Great Value,” asserting that spiritual enlightenment is not necessarily complex or the result of many years of study, but rather knowing and applying a few simple tools with consistency, and devotion to spiritual truth.

Simple Truths of Great Value (pg. 333-334)

  1. Be kind to everything and everyone, including oneself, all the time, with no exception.
  2. Revere all life in all its expressions, no matter what, even if one doesn’t understand it.
  3. Presume no actual reliable knowledge of anything at all. Ask God/Universe to reveal its meaning.
  4. Intend to see the hidden beauty of all that exists – it then reveals itself.
  5. Forgive everything that is witnessed and experienced, no matter what. Remember Christ, Buddha and Krishna all said that all error is due to ignorance.  Socrates said all men can choose only what they believe to be the good.
  6. Approach all life with humility and be willing to surrender all positionalities and mental/emotional arguments or gain.
  7. Be willing to forgo all perceptions of gain, desire, or profit and thereby be willing to be of selfless service to life in all of its expressions.
  8. Make one’s life a living prayer by intention, alignment, humility, and surrender. True spiritual reality is actually a way of being in the world
  9. By verification, confirm the levels of consciousness and spiritual truth of all teachers, teachings, spiritual groups, and literature with which one intends to be aligned or a student of.
  10. Accept that by spiritual declaration, commitment, and surrender, Knowingness arises that provides support, information, and all that is needed for the entire journey,
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Cool websites you should know about

Stumbleupon is a fabulous website that discovers websites based on your interests. Try it! Through it I found:

Musicovery – Web radio (free) that plays music based on your mood.

Pandora – Web radio (free) that creates stations based on a song, artist or genre.

The Beatles – Fantastic access to everything Beatles related.

8 Irresistible Principles – Fun, fun, fun and inspirational

The 5.75 Questions You’ve Been Avoiding – Really good stuff

Concentrated Wisdom for the Busy Self-Actualizer – Every inspirational/philosophical thing you ever needed and some you didn’t even know about are on this site.

PlanetEBook – Free classic literature to download and share

50 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do – You’ll be glad you read this when you’re stranded in the woods with no matches.

TasteSpotting – TasteSpotting is our obsessive, compulsive, addictive food-fiending lifestyle manifested as this collection of images that link to something deliciously interesting on the other side. Think of TasteSpotting as a visual potluck of recipes, experiences, stories, products, and anything else that inspires exquisite taste, shared by people like you and me.

ItalianFoodForever – complete with Dino soundtrack, this website is a luscious collection of Italian recipes and food resources.

The Bertrand Russell Archives – My favorite philosopher, who said:

Three passions have governed my life:
The longings for love, the search for knowledge,
And unbearable pity for the suffering of [humankind].

Love brings ecstasy and relieves loneliness.
In the union of love I have seen
In a mystic miniature the prefiguring vision
Of the heavens that saints and poets have imagined.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge.
I have wished to understand the hearts of [people].
I have wished to know why the stars shine.

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The Oneness of it all…

Today, my fav columnist Mark Morford wrote another fantastic piece about the oneness of it all… and in it he said … [remember that] “all matter, no matter how disgusting, joyful, vile or beautiful, is merely energy, that everything emanates from and returns to the same divine source, that all dualities of good/bad disgusting/delicious love/hate collapse together into the same moment. There is no difference. Grossness is merely a perception. Joy is merely an illusive state. Where they collapse into one, there lies the truth…You get the idea? Somehow, some way, you gotta take it all in, sit right in the center of it, conscious of all but attached to none, and be OK. It’s all just energy. It’s all the same divine breath of god, blowing in your ear, whispering sweet everythings. Collapse it all together. Shake, stir, swallow it down with a bow and a humble smile. Tasty, no?”

The idea here being, can we live in the world but not be of the world? Can we be grounded and awakened amidst our circumstances – the people around us, our jobs, our concerns, the things we think of as good and bad, right or wrong – and realize that none of that is the core of truth? That truth lies behind it all?

You know, good question.

I often feel segmented into the Spiritual me – the mediator, reader, pray-er, seeker – and the person that has to do and experience life. The goal for me is to bring the two aspects together… to wash dishes Mindfully, as it were …. to be spiritually awake during my workday, my commute, my stressful interaction with someone who is difficult to work with. To be grounded in the Oneness while experiencing uncertainty about the future, rethinking of the past, manifesting my desires. To realize my essential nature is the consciousness in which all things – my feelings, thoughts, perceptions, actions and circumstances – arise and subside.

Being in this state is its own reward because it allows you to feel at peace… and its a reward for everyone else too, because in this state we bring peace and lovingkindness into the world, raising the consciousness bar for everyone. It’s a happy place.

” The perfect and the imperfect, the sacred and the profane, beautiful and the ugly, sinner and the saint, evil and good are all manifestations of the one divine consciousness. This is the reality of an awakened being.

The nature of existence is bliss. it is qualified by auspicious qualities of love, compassion, connectedness and silence. Man’s consciousness is fettered by concepts, ideas, conditioning and mental constructs.

“When consciousness is purged of all its contamination, what remains is life – pure consciousness or God.”

Sri Bhagavan


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Put it in the “Things I have learned” box and stop beating yourself up

So this morning I was getting ready for work and my thoughts turned to this decision I made a few years ago, and it turned out (in hindsight) to be a huge career mistake which has delayed my progress, postponed my goals and dreams, and generally has taken me down a road I didn’t want to travel… and I felt (once again) really bad about myself, and stupid for making this mistake. Even when I ran through the reasons why, and the rationale I had at the time, it still causes me tension and angst that I did this. And there were other mistakes… I married that guy. I trusted that person whom I knew to be untrustworthy. You know, the usual. So then later today I was talking to a friend about a guy she had dated (dating is really not the right word, but it’s more ladylike) and he’s calling her again, and my advice to her was to put that guy and that situation in the “Things I have learned and don’t need to learn again, thank you very much” part of her journal, or heart or mind. And then I realized “oh – this applies to me too.” Epiphany. Doh!

So yeah, I figure that you, and I, and all our friends who are intelligent and humane and have good intentions, as well as compassion and a healthy sense of wanting to do the right thing for ourselves and others, we can look at those mistakes from the past, take the nugget of learning out, and then put the experience in the “things I have learned” box.” So you get to look at it, roll it around, squeeze the wisdom out, then throw out the empty peel. Go ahead – do it now.

Also, you can now stop thinking of yourself as: stupid, lame, ridiculous, evil, bad-tempered, lacking the sense that God gave watermelon, unable to control your impulses, etc. This bad decision – the Jagermeister, the wedding, the decision to move to the Valley, whatever – this decision happened in the past. You only knew what you knew then. Even if you vaguely felt at the time that this decision had a red flag, (ok, me too) you still went ahead with it, and here you are – older, wiser. You could still be living with the consequences, or not. You could suffer moments of regret and subsequent self-torture while driving, or trying to sleep, or whenever. My advice to myself (and to anyone who wants to take it) is to remember that ~

  • it’s now in the past
  • you can’t change it
  • you can accept it and go forward
  • you learned something
  • if you really learned it you will probably make better decisions in the future
  • you’re human, it’s ok to make mistakes (ok, this one may take me awhile to believe)
  • put it in the “things I’ve learned” box and stop hitting yourself with it

It’s pretty refreshing, isn’t it? Maybe it will help you to write them down, in a column to the left entitled “Mistakes” and a column to the right entitled “What I learned.” Maybe just the realization that you have the power and the permission to put these things in the past will help. The cool part is, you get to stop feeling bad about this. You are now free to make new decisions. Whoo hoo!


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Live in the Now – a quote, a story and a Ziggy moment

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you should begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other bank. She thanked him and departed.

As the monks continued on their way, the one was brooding and preoccupied. Unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. “Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!”

“Brother,” the second monk replied, “I set her down on the other side, while you are still carrying her.”

Ziggy

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Babette’s Feast – Mercy and Truth meet together

Mercy and truth have met together. Righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.
Man, in his weakness and shortsightedness believes he must make choices in this life.
He trembles at the risks he takes. We do know fear. But no. Our choice is of no importance.
There comes a time when our eyes are opened and we come to realize that mercy is infinite.
We need only await it with confidence and receive it with gratitude.
Mercy imposes no conditions.
And lo! Everything we have chosen has been granted to us.
And everything we rejected has also been granted.
Yes, we even get back what we rejected,
For mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.

~ From Babette’s Feast

Babette’s Feast operates on many levels;

It’s about food, and it’s about how meals can bring people together.

It’s about the tension and the reconciliation between earthly pleasures and divine transcendence,

simplicity and sensuality.

It’s about creativity and the nature of the artist.

It’s about poverty and wealth.

It’s about forgiveness and finding your way.

It’s about loss and regret, and is also about being a receiver of everything, and losing nothing.

It’s about mourning and the healing that it brings, and also about true love and joy.

It’s about being able to finally say the words you need to say, and to finally be able to give the gift you want to give.

It’s about knowing who you *really* are.

It’s about giving that comes right from the heart.

It’s about grace coming to live in a modest and remote place, both in the physical and the spiritual sense.

It’s about Christ-consciousness.

It’s about time you watched this movie or read this story!

(thank you Jo Owen!)

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Velveeta was only the beginning…

I grew up in a small town in Alaska….when we first moved to Wasilla, the only store was Teelands and they did have Velveeta, as well as jerky (two kinds) and lots of canned food, but not much else.  I didn’t have access to gourmet cheese and food until much later…. So I just want to take a moment to be thankful for Whole Foods and The Milk Pail and Cowgirl Creamery. Good food is serious business, and without it, things can get pretty intense…

From Infamous

Truman (standing in front of a huge Velveeta display): Could this be all the cheese?

Mrs. Dewey: Well how much do you want?

Truman: I mean quality dear, not quantity..

Mrs. Dewey: Oh you mean other types of cheese….Goodness no, not here… What will you and Mrs. Capote do for your Christmas supper?

Truman: If this is the only cheese I find, Mrs. Capote and I might try cyanide.

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Easter Messages

My Easter meditation ~

Père Henri: Do I want to speak of the miracle of our Lord’s divine transformation? Not really, no. I don’t want to talk about his divinity. I’d rather talk about his humanity. I mean, you know, how he lived his life, here on Earth. His *kindness,* his *tolerance.* Listen, here’s what I think. I think that we can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do; by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we *embrace,* what we *create* … and who we *include.* ~ Chocolat

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“OK – Yes”

Acceptance

There’s an Italian man who says “OK – Yes” to almost every situation in Under the Tuscan Sun. When the wall he is working on starts to rumble and crumble and begins to fall down, he runs outside with everyone and says, “OK – Yes.” Now, those may not be the first couple of words you hear yourself saying when things are stressful, or crumbling around you. But, if you can manage to say “OK – Yes” to any situation, it enables you to recover and move on more quickly than if you resist, complain, curse, or punish yourself or others. Eckhart Tolle has a metaphor for this too. He says, if you find your self stuck in the mud, you can curse it and complain about it, try to figure out why the mud is there in the first place, and flail around, but you will still be in stuck in the mud – and you’ll just be a bit dirtier. Instead of resisting the mud, say “OK – Yes, I see that I am stuck in the mud, I don’t like it, and now I’m going to do what it takes to get out.” Coming from a place of acceptance allows you to move forward more constructively, and freer of the psychological pain that comes with being opposed to the present moment. Acceptance allows you to deal with it and move on, while resistance keeps you stuck.

“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Alignment

Yesterday a friend described how her rowing team works together. She’ll be competing in a world-wide competition, and her coach has taught them that “rowing like a jackass” will not win the race. In rowing, the forward motion of the boat not only depends upon the exertion of the rowers, but also on the alignment of the rowers with the forward movement of the boat. If you’re “rowing like a jackass,” you are not only wasting energy, you are creating negative momentum by pushing your body toward your feet while the boat is moving in the opposite direction. Teams who win are not the ones rowing hardest, but the ones in which each team mate is rowing in alignment with the boat and with her team mates. This seems like a great analogy for living a peaceful life – stop rowing like a jackass, for one. Also, it helps to have good team mates. And finding your sense of alignment, and staying with it, will move you forward.

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Thoughts on the Heart

What is the nature of the Heart? Rob Brezsny asks, “Are we being sentimentally unscientific when we refer to the heart as the seat of the soul? Or does that idea contain a truth that surpasses reductive rationalism? In A Dictionary of Symbols, J.E. Cirlot reports that in the Jewish tradition, meditation involves “speaking to one’s heart.” According to Christian tradition, the Kingdom of God resides in the heart. Hindus say the supreme god Brahma lives there, and in Islam, the heart is referred to as the throne of God. ……. Have a sustained, intimate, heart-to-heart communion with your heart. Learn more about its secret thoughts. Converse with it as if it were the literal source of your emotional intelligence. Proceed on the hypothesis, as French philosopher Pascal did, that “great thoughts come from the heart.”

Our heart is viewed then, as the “place” where we experience the Divine, the facet of ourselves where we receive love, grace, wisdom and peace. It is the seat and the source of our compassion, for ourselves and others. How then, do we connect with our heart to listen to it, or to perceive what is there? Meditation is one way. Quieting the mind so the heart can come through, we are able to touch the heart, and as Pema Chodron writes: “When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.”

Paul Beattie looks at meditation, (when the “mind is still”) and examines the connection between the Heart and the Mind in this poem –

When My Mind is Still

When my mind is still and alone with the beating of my heart,
I remember things too easily forgotten:
The purity of early love,
The maturity of unselfish love that asks –
desires – nothing but another’s good,
The idealism that has persisted through all the tempest of life.

When my mind is still and alone with the beating of my heart,
I can find a quiet assurance, an inner peace, in the core of my being.
It can face the doubt, the loneliness, the anxiety,
Can accept these harsh realities and can even grow
Because of these challenges to my essential being.

When my mind is still and alone with the beating of my heart,
I can sense my basic humanity,
And then I know that all men and women are my brothers and sisters.
Nothing but my own fear and distrust can separate me from the love of friends.
If I can trust others, accept them, enjoy them,
Then my life shall surely be richer and more full.
If I can accept others, this will help them to be more truly themselves,
And they will be more able to accept me.

When my mind is still and alone with the beating of my heart,
I know how much life has given me:
The history of the race, friends and family,
The opportunity to work, the chance to build myself.
Then wells within me the urge to live more abundantly,
With greater trust and joy,
With more profound seriousness and earnest service,
And yet more calmly at the heart of life.

***

So, saying the treasures of the heart are great seems like an understatement. The profound importance of your heart to your self-awareness, your humanity, and your ability to “see” what is real can’t be overemphasized. Many of our greatest thinkers (even scientists!) and artists have given us thoughts on the heart ~

Carl Jung Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.

William Shakespeare: Go to your bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Albert Einstein: A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Benjamin Disraeli: Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.

Blaise Pascal: We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart.

Confucius: To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.

M. Scott Peck: The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual – for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.

Pearl S. Buck: The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.

The Dalai Lama: This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. …….. I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It is the ultimate source of success in life.

***

I wish you the time, the space and the grace to listen to your heart.

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Forgiveness

What does forgiveness really mean? I’ve been thinking about this for several years and struggling with the implications of what forgiveness includes and what it doesn’t include. After much reading and discussion, here’s what I’ve come up with:

What forgiveness means:

  • Forgiveness means you don’t act in retribution or vengeance to the person who has wronged you. You don’t punish or retaliate.
  • Forgiveness means you do (or can) wish for the person who has wronged you, “May the Lord give you Peace” – this is the stance you take toward the person in your heart.
  • You realize that forgiveness is a gift you are giving yourself in the sense that you are only responsible for *your* own behavior – you are not responsible for how someone else acts or responds. Letting go of your own anger and hatred sets you free.
  • You may open the door to the person to restore the relationship.

What forgiveness does not mean:

  • Forgiveness does not mean you are saying what the person did is OK.
  • Forgiveness does not mean you have any obligation to continue in the relationship with the person. You can forgive and also protect yourself from toxic people and toxic relationships by no longer engaging in those relationships. Really, its ok. Even if it’s your mother or your brother or your son, you can say to them – or just in your own mind – that “I understand your behavior and I wish no ill to come to you, and (as Bishop Tutu said) I am not going to let you victimize me and hold me in a position where I have an anger against you, a resentment, and [in which] I’m looking for the opportunity to pay back.”
  • You may decide to continue in the relationship, and “turn the other cheek”- but I recommend being watchful for patterns of behavior that continue. Destructive behavior is not acceptable, even if it is forgivable.
  • Forgiving someone does not necessarily mean that the pain of the situation will go away – this usually takes time and is not usually an act of the will.

What does the person being forgiven need to do?

  • If you offer someone who has wronged you the gift of forgiveness, the person being forgiven must open herself to it in order to receive it. They can do do this by confessing, apologizing or by seeking atonement. (see Bishop Tutu’s remarks on this below)

What is the spiritual element of forgiveness?

  • Rob Brezsny says “The 17th-century surgeon Wilhelm Hilden had an interesting theory about healing. He developed a medicinal salve that he applied not to the wound itself but rather to the weapon that inflicted it. Though today we may sneer at such foolishness, the fact is that Hilden’s approach has great potential if used for psychic wounds. Jesus understood this when he articulated the revolutionary formula, “Love your enemy.” More than any other action, this strategy has the power to cure you of the distortions your enemy has unleashed in you. Try it out.”
  • In Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen describes love and forgiveness as unconditional. “Though this is not a novel idea, Nouwen’s approach is arguably unique as he approached this theme from the angles of the younger son, the elder son, and the father. Each captures the unconditional quality of love and forgiveness in their own way. The younger son’s life shows how the beloved lives a life of misery by thinking he can be loved only by meeting certain qualifications of the lover (which he fails to meet). The elder son’s actions shows how the beloved can be depressed because he thinks he should receive greater love because he has done all the right things (i.e., that he has met these qualifications). The father alone understands how to love and forgive and is able to do so and be happy. Nouwen explains that we are the younger son at times (when we think we don’t deserve love or the forgiveness) and the elder son at times (when we think we deserve love or that another doesn’t deserve it more than us), but that we are all called to be like the father (and that only by being like the father can we come closer to being loved as we should be loved).”

Here’s what Desmond Tutu has to say about forgiveness, from Bill Moyers Journal, 12/28/07

ARCHBISHOP TUTU: I would hope that the world would realize that there is no situation that is not transfigurable, that there is no situation of which we can say, ‘This is absolutely, totally devoid of hope,’ because that is what people thought about South Africa. And that the star turns of this report are those we wrongly call just ordinary people. There are no ordinary people in my theology, but it is the small people, the ones who used to be nonentities, they are the stars and for the world to know that those called-so-called ordinary people are incredible.

BILL MOYERS: What do you actually do when you forgive someone?

ARCHBISHOP TUTU: Well, basically, you are saying ‘I am abandoning my right to revenge, to payback. I mean, I have… By the fact that you have abused me, you have hurt me, or -whatever it is that you have done, you have wronged me. By that you have given me a certain right as – over you that I could refuse to forgive you. I could say that I have the right to retribution.’ When I forgive, I say, ‘I jettison that right, and I open the door of opportunity to you, to make a new beginning.’ That is what I do when I forgive you.

BILL MOYERS: But the Buddhists talk of letting go of the past, dying to the past, when you forgive, of letting loose of the sorrow that you have brought with you from the past. Is that what you’re talking about?

ARCHBISHOP TUTU: Yes. The thing is, of course that I don’t know that you yourself are able, by an act of will, as it were, to let go of the pain. The will part of it, where your will is, deliberately to say, ‘I am not going to let you victimize me and hold me in a position where I have an anger against you, a resentment, and I’m looking for the opportunity to pay back.’ I am saying. ‘I want to let go of that-that right, and begin to work for the possibility of restoring the relationship.

BILL MOYERS: Do I have to do anything – the person being forgiven?

ARCHBISHOP TUTU: For your own sake, the only way you can appropriate forgiveness is by confessing. That opens you to the possibility of being able to receive it. It’s like, it’s like opening up a window. You see forgiveness can be likened to the fresh air that is outside or the sunlight that is outside and you have a room and the windows are closed and the curtains are drawn. The wind is still out there, my forgiveness is still available to you, but it won’t find access until you open the window and the light streams in. You draw the curtains apart and the fresh air comes in. You by your contrition and confession, say I am sorry, forgive me, open and my forgiveness enters your being.

BILL MOYERS: We’re talking here about genocide, torture. Are genocide and torture forgivable?

ARCHBISHOP TUTU: As a Christian, you have to say, ‘Are there things that are unforgivable?’ I’m afraid we follow a lord and master who at the point when they are crucifying him in the most painful way can say, ‘Pray for their forgiveness.’ And we follow the one who says, ‘Forgive one another as God and Christ forgave you.’ That is for us the paradigm. We may not always reach to that ideal, but that is the standard.

For further inspiration, see No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu

No Future Without Forgiveness

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Christmas is a time of remembrance and gratitude for the most important things….

 

Christmas is a time of remembrance and gratitude for the most important things….

Abiding friendship ~ the kindness, fun, fidelity and understanding we share

Beauty ~ and the capacity to see it in all that is around and in us

Caring ~ for those we love and for those in need

Compassion ~ and the many times it has been given and received

Generosity ~ of heart and resources

Hope ~ and the vitality it brings us

Joy ~ for all that makes us smile

Laughter ~ and the ways it lifts us

Light ~ in ourselves and others

Peace ~ and the ways we give it a chance

Love ~ which envelops all these things and more…

Wishing you all these gifts, at Christmastime and all through the year.

Merry Christmas!

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