Thursday, December 19, 2013

An island greeting...

No man is an island, entire of itself.
Each man is part of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod of earth fall off into the sea,
Europe is the less, as much as if
A promontory were, as much as if
A Manor of thy friends or thine own were.

Every man’s death diminishes me
Because I am involved in mankind;
Therefore, never send to know
For whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

from Meditation XVII by John Donne (1571-1631)

No one is completely alone. We are all integral to someone else. Each of us is a sister, daughter, wife, mother, niece, aunt, brother, son, husband, father, nephew, uncle, grandchild, and/or friend to someone. No one comes into the world with no connections. Because of that, we, each of us, touch other’s lives in some way. We each have the grand opportunity, the weight of glory (as CS Lewis calls it), to help each person we come into contact with toward light or darkness. How that light or darkness will play out in someone’s life, we may never know, but we all have that glorious burden to bear.

John Donne reminds us about this divine calling in his Meditation XVII. A clump of dirt falling into the ocean makes the nation that much smaller. A grain of obsidian sand pulled from the beach of Hawaii--or that pristine white sand granule from Florida washing into the Gulf--causes all of America to shrink. Donne says that even a bit of earth that falls into the rolling blue lessens the country from which it falls.

That grain of sand, that person we lose thanks to whatever tide goes rolling out, is part of my continent. I am diminished. I am affected because "I am involved in mankind." Therefore I must look to those people in my life whom I know I have the opportunity to impact. Am I doing enough to keep erosion from occurring? Am I sharing light or darkness? Am I listening and reacting to the tolling of the bells that ring? I hope so.

Several iron bells rang out that touched me personally this week. I am sure that any number of bells tolled throughout the nation and world, and we were all affected by the resounding of those iron bells in our lives. Our diminished selves may be tempted to retreat; I need to remember that it is at these times, especially, that I need to look to friends and family whose love can help bring light instead of darkness. Their warm greetings help soothe the sadness that sudden loss brings.

Hawaii's greeting of "Aloha" which means hello and goodbye is perhaps that perfect phrase at times like this, when we must say goodbye to those whose bell has rung while at the same time welcoming our friends and family into holiday homes. Blessings and love to all those of us who have heard the bells ring this week; also, welcome and good cheer to those who will be ringing doorbells for Christmas. So, "Aloha" dear hearts.

RIP MM and BM 12/16/2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Kind words...

          “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We all learn too early that words can indeed be hurtful. We’re supposed to let the taunts and maledictions slide off our psyches like water off a duck’s back, but we don’t. The words float into the cracks and crevices and lodge there like black mold spores, just waiting for the right soil and temperature conditions before growing a new crop of fungus. Hurtful words fester and destroy, sending a decay through our systems that could be fatal, at least emotionally, if we let them take over.
          Mother Teresa’s quote, however, shows how the right word, aptly spoken, brings a new truth to light. Just as the hurtful word flung at us in a time of pain or angst or anger can grow in the dark corners of our souls, the kind words spoken are like ripples. The hateful words grow like fungi; the kind words are like echoes. Mother Teresa’s quote reminds us that we should be speaking kind words. The words echo through us and around us and will continue to peal as long as we live. What’s nice, too, is that an echo is directionless; you cannot tell where the shout comes from. All you know is the echo of joy that floods your heart as your memory brings it to the forefront of your mind. It does not matter who said it; it is enough that it cuts through the fungus and opens the earlids of our soul.
          The kind word, dropped like a gentle rain onto my life--perhaps by someone not even realizing the verbal refreshment he or she is giving--creates an echo that will come back to me just when I need it. At the moment I am tired, I will hear the echo of a friendly voice: “You can do it!” At the moment I am despairing, I will hear the reverberations of some person's encouragement: “You are not alone!” At the moment I feel the mold growing and taking over portions of my soul, I hear the repetition of a beloved voice calling out across the canyon in my heart, “You are loved!”  And the beautiful words ring on, forever, calling out to me, spreading light in the darkened corners and eradicating the mold.

         So, today, if you get the chance, be the person to spread the echoes of good into someone's life.  You never know how much a person needs to hear these "short and easy to speak" words of kindness.  It may be that gently spoken word at just the right time that will make all the difference.  Blessings, dear friends.  Remember: you can do it; you are not alone; and you are loved!