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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

Do you have particular spots in your house that you are drawn to? I have a few … this is one of them.

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It always feels that there’s a moment of calm here. It’s not specifically the photo of my parents on their wedding day, nor the fall leaves in that deep brown, glazed pitcher, nor the rusted tin crow – it’s all of it and how it just sits together. It’s a confluence of things that somehow ties my life together, and it’s a spot which, when things start to pile up on the chairs, gets cleared and cleaned quickly.

It feels like fall in this little corner of my world, and at times like these – a week so filled with work that I can sometimes forget to go out to the road and get my mail – it reminds me that Home is a good place. The beauty of fall is happening outside; I took it all in yesterday on an appointment I had to keep, and hope to take my camera to enjoy it again this weekend. But meanwhile, fall is happening inside, too.

Years ago, while applying to art school, I briefly considered a degree in architecture (though that would have meant I’d have taken and done well in physics and/or chemistry.) I later realized it wasn’t architecture that most attracted me; it was the inside spaces of the building … interior design. It was creating little spots like this, spots of visual retreat and harmony, that inspired me.

Goethe once said, “He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.” I believe he was right.

 

 

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I am repeating this post from my own blog from 2012. It is never too late to do a kindness and there is never a wrong time but today is the day that celebrates it. Should you wish more information, there is a Random Acts of Kindness website with wonderful stories, ideas, etc., but I suspect you know exactly how to be kind. Have a lovely day.

Recently a friend from the other side of the country – Washington State, to be exact – sent me an e-mail with the photos below. Needless to say, the images have been collected by someone from all over the web and put together in that e-mail. I have  pulled them together for this blog post because I believe we all could use a little inspiration here and there and it never hurts to be reminded of the difference a small kindness can make, how a simple gesture can touch a heart and soul, and how there really is a great deal of kindness in the world despite what many sources would have us believe. We can always add to that, and it needn’t be on an official Random Acts of Kindness Day – it can be any day or every day.

Enjoy the photos. The e-mail began with this : If you never learn the language of gratitude, you will never be on speaking terms with happiness.

A father and mother kissing their dying little girl goodbye. If you are wondering why all the medic people are bowing,….in less than an hour, two small children in the next room are able to live thanks to the little girl’s kidney and liver.

The e-mail continued on with the following, which I have altered slightly to be more inclusive of all beings on Earth:

Every day, every day, you hear …
I WANT!   I WANT!  I WANT!
Every day you hear people saying what they want. Well, here’s what I want:

  • I want people who are sick to be healed
  • I want children – and animals – with no families and no one to love them to be adopted
  • I want people to never have to worry about food and shelter and heat
  • I want to see a kinder world towards all animals on this planet
  • Most of all, I would like to see people start to care more for one another.

May your heart be touched by kindness today and every day.

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I could use a vacation about now. How about you? I don’t see one on the horizon for awhile, so I guess I’ll be content with the occasional day trip and travels with authors who take me places I’ve never been and/or long to be.

 

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The Outermost House is a narrative about the year Henry Beston spent on Cape Cod in 1925. His intention was to spend two weeks, but “The fortnight ending, I lingered on, and as the year lengthened into autumn, the beauty and mystery of this earth and outer sea so possessed and held me that I could not go.”

OutermostHouse-HBeston2I visited Cape Cod several times when I was younger, and I loved it. Even though I grew up with fairly easy access to the many beautiful shore spots in New Jersey, there was something different about Cape Cod … even the air. A vacation for me could easily be living near the ocean, sitting peacefully, maybe reading, maybe just watching the tides. The ocean is immensely restorative – her rhythms, her colors, her moods. Nothing really needs to be said when you sit by her side. But I would like the option to enjoy this as a relatively solitary activity most of the time, i.e., not accompanied by the noise, activity and intrusion of beachgoers. And so I will be turning back the clock and enjoying the unspoiled magnificence of nature in this spot on Cape Cod.

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Henry Beston and The Outermost House actually came to my attention at least 15 years ago through a magnificent quote from his book:

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

And that’s another reason I’m joining Henry in Cape Cod.

 

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EarthPlanet-space2As 2015 begins, a song crosses my mind whose first two lines are, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” This is not a new thought; it has been taught and shared for centuries in one form or another by those well-known and those far less well-known. Who doesn’t want peace on earth?

This wonderful gift begs a question … what are we, as individuals, doing to help create peace on earth? To fight hunger, eliminate poverty, and expand kindness to all beings on the planet? How are we consciously working to change our own thoughts to those of greater tolerance, forgiveness and understanding? What efforts are we making to behave in accordance with those thoughts?

Our troubled world needs our help more than ever, and peace does begin with me and with you. It’s never too late to make our own contribution; 2015 seems like a perfectly wonderful time, does it not?

My wishes for a happy and enlightened New Year to you!

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Light-CrystalIceBall2Light illuminates our path and shows us the way, both literally and figuratively. It casts shadows from the darkness, brings joy, and inspires reflection. The beauty of light is that we can find it everywhere – we can sit outside and bathe in moonlight or simply light a candle.

In this already very chilly weather, I have done just that and lit a candle or two, so here’s a little light from my house to yours.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“There is love in everything, and when we really live and view life with an open heart (and live in our truth), the light illuminates the way.”   ~ Kasi Kaye Iliopoulos

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“I will greet this day with love in my heart. And how will I do this? Henceforth will I look on all things with love and be born again. I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars. I will welcome happiness as it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul.”  ~ Og Mandino

 

 

“You can overcome whatever is going on around you if you believe in the light that lives within you.” ~ Justine Edward

 

Light-Snowman2“Love is a weapon of Light, and it has the power to eradicate all forms of darkness. That is the key. When we offer love even to our enemies, we destroy their darkness and hatred…” ~ Yehuda Berg

Let’s step outside and see … there by my door is a snowman. His little candle shines brightly – flickers on as dusk begins to settle in – and he blows it out as the sun heralds a new day from the East. He doesn’t worry like we do about all manner of things; he just stands and smiles and lights my way and all those who come to call. He doesn’t know of all the terrible things in the world, not the dark hearts of men, nor the sadness in our souls. He just holds his candle steady and throws his light to the small world he knows.

“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”  ~ Edith Wharton

 

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DalaiLama2I recently rented a somewhat different video from my usual fare, (whatever exactly that is), Ten Questions for the Dalai Lama. The film was made by Rick Ray, who also did the interview of His Holiness and examined a variety of issues surrounding the Dalai Lama and his native country, Tibet.

The film covered the Dalai Lama’s childhood and how he was selected to be the 14th to occupy this position which is a combination of chief spiritual and political leader. It showed the lives of  Buddhist monks and the beauty and peacefulness of the Tibetan people. It also recounted the horrific invasion and takeover of Tibet by the Chinese in 1949-1951, in which 1,200,000 Tibetans were killed, many thousands of others beaten and jailed. Even today, if a Tibetan so much as harbors an image of the Dalai Lama, he is severely beaten and imprisoned. Disguised, the Dalai Lama and his family were able to escape the country in 1959. He currently lives in political asylum in India.

Although I know China invaded and took over Tibet, I had not been aware of the details, so I am thankful to have chosen this film and learned more of this historical time. (If interested, you can learn about the event and what happened to Tibet afterwards here, which is an official website of the Dalai Lama.) But my primary interest was in the man himself.

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Interior of a Buddhist temple in Tibet

As a result of watching the Dalai Lama in this film, I can say that he is a brilliant, insightful and compassionate man with a delightful kind of kookiness about him. It would be impossible not to like him as he shares his thoughts, opinions and feelings – and sometimes laughter – on a variety of subjects. His observations about the West are not surprising, how as a people we are driven by greed, never having enough. He commented on how often the less people have, the happier they are. When asked about the parallel he might make between himself and Mahatma Gandhi and their ideas about non-violence, the Dalai Lama noted that their aims were the same, that non-violence towards others is the only way to make true progress in the world, and that he and Gandhi were of the same mind in this way.

He pointed out, however, that there was a major difference between Gandhi’s experience and that of his people’s in Tibet and that was/is the endless use of violence used to punish Tibetans at the hands of the Chinese. Gandhi and those who stood with him were not beaten with guns or shot. The numerous film clips show the brutality and violence the Tibetans were/are subjected to at the hands of the Chinese military, (which today, outside of the capital of Lhasa, is largely undercover police), and how their most basic human rights are denied.

The Dalai Lama had reached out to the Chinese Communist leadership in the past, but they were not cooperative. And so this world-famous spiritual leader continues to strive for world peace and the freedom of his country. When at home, he spends a portion of his day in communication with media and the remainder in spiritual practice. But he is often making appearances around the world discussing how his life is guided by three major commitments – the promotion of basic human values, the fostering of inter-religious harmony, and the preservation of Tibet’s Buddhist culture of peace and non-violence.

Having had only occasional exposure to the Dalai Lama, I was deeply impressed, as naive as that may sound, by the beauty and genuineness of his spirit as shown through this film. I can only imagine what a joy it might be to actually sit and talk with him.

I was also reminded, as he spoke about practicing non-violence towards all living beings, that an important aspect of being vegan, as challenging as it is, is an abstention from the violence that is routinely perpetrated on all animals that provide us with meat, dairy, or other commodities, whether during their lives or in their death.

There is clearly a peace that the Dalai Lama exudes, and to the degree that it comes from non-violence, who cannot be for it?

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The last few days I have been intuitively drawn back to read my friend – though I have never met him – author Mark Nepo. I find such comfort in the kindness and wisdom of his writing, but moreover, the ability of his words to help center me.

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Work, and its sometimes seemingly endless demands, can pull me farther and farther away from my self until I feel lost. Especially with Thanksgiving upon us, I wish for my mind, heart and spirit to be in a far different place. This morning, tuning into Nepo’s The Book of Awakening helped me rein myself back into a place where I want to be … calmer, more content. He writes:

“The goal of all experience is to remove whatever might keep us from being whole. The things we learn through love and pain reduce our walls and bring our inner and outer life together, and all the while the friction of being alive erodes whatever impediments remain.
“But the simplest and deepest way to make who we are at one with the world is through the kinship of gratitude.”

He asks that we sit quietly and meditate on what keeps us from knowing ourselves, inhaling gratitude and exhaling what stands in our way. I know that when we are feeling most whole, when we have separated what we “do” from who we are, that we experience greater peace. And when we are at peace, we love more easily, breathe more easily, give more easily. So beautifully connected.

Knowing ourselves and releasing all that we are not taps us right into the magnificence of spirit, our Oneness. This Thanksgiving I share peace and thankfulness with you.

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Driving backroads out my way, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this blog, is a visual feast, but more than that, it is something else. For me, it is nourishment for the soul.

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The views I find along my travels feed a part of me that treasures the beauty and peacefulness, and the best part about it is that wherever I go, there they are. The changing of the seasons only adds to the richness of it all.

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I wonder, to a fresh set of eyes, do these views appear boring? In our electronic age, where everything moves at the pace of a nanosecond, do they seem stilted or irrelevant? While I commit some of the images to my camera, I am snapping far many more and recording them in my memory. These simple views offset the pace and insistence of the many electronic communications and devices that make up the day.

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The wildness of nature or the orderliness of a farmer’s fields … it doesn’t matter … either conspires to awaken in me the knowing that whatever might be happening in life, there is still beauty in my surroundings. It’s in all our surroundings; we only need to stop and look, and take in the view.

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“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours…. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.”

~Henry David Thoreau

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I was determined this morning to get some time out on one of my porches before the onslaught of work began. There’s plenty on my desk plus a scheduled quick trip to the vet.  It’s easy to get up and take care of the necessary house stuff then dive into work with nary a moment of peace on these still-cool mornings.

So I put off making breakfast and brought my coffee to the shady back porch and sketched a bit. Then I closed my eyes and just listened. I heard the gentle gurgling of the neighbor’s pond which is partially behind my home; the GUNK! of one of the froggy residents; I distinctly recognized a cat bird and a sparrow singing, and at least 5 others that I was not able to identify. There was some machine humming in the distance, an occasional vehicle some blocks away, but these were barely noticeable. There was not one human to be heard. It was peaceful.

In looking about me I saw two goldfinches zipping back and forth in tandem and a few chimney swifts flitting about high in the sky. At the edge of the porch, bumblebees were pushing their way into the lavender hosta flowers. A medium size rust beetle was seemingly trying to bury himself – or perhaps burrow – in the corner by the back door, an impossibility, of course. I couldn’t imagine his purpose but he was way off course, so I took a piece of paper and transported him down into the hosta, where at least it was a more natural environment for him.

When I did get to breakfast, I made sure to include one of the fresh peaches from my local farm stand. This quiet morning was a great start. The only downside? I couldn’t stay for hours.

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