Gifts of Grace

Monarch butterfly on milkweed blossomSometimes, to keep faith that the world is a place where goodness and beauty reign is not an easy thing.

The din of global conflicts and catastrophes, both natural and man-made, can be deafening, so saturated are we with their sound.  The darkness of the world’s struggles, inhumanity and pain, painted as they are with such wide, deep brushes across the lens of every public medium, can blind us to the existence of hope’s light.

But the light remains, as does the music.  And if you will but hold to your belief in them, they will come to you in gifts of grace, penetrating your despair with their truth and power.

The goodness and beauty of life far outweigh the shadows.  They are the essence of reality, upholding and sustaining it, always available, eternally present, even when we are lost in confusion.

Your very longing for them is the proof of their existence.  You would not weep over the world’s turmoil if you heart didn’t know the reality of peace.  You wouldn’t despair over conflict if you didn’t know the beauty of kindness and the light that a wisp of love can cast.

So believe, even when darkness overwhelms you, even when pain crushes out your reason.  Keep faith, and when you least expect it, a shaft of light will find you, a gift of grace will appear, gently singing life’s endless, beautiful, comforting song.

Universal Appreciation Day

Red Clover BlossomDo you realize how hungry all of us are for a word of appreciation?  For those moments where we feel that we’re seen, that we’re noticed, that we’re real to someone?

There’s nothing like it.  Those little sparks of human connection are like honey to our souls.  They nourish us and make us feel, if only for a fleeting moment, more alive, as if we matter, as if we count for something.

What if, tomorrow morning when you woke up, you declared it Universal Appreciation Day?  What if you made it your goal to see something amazing in every human being you encountered?

What if you saw their beauty?  Their courage?  Their loneliness?  Their pain?  What if you noticed their skill?  Their laugh?  Their innate wisdom? Their manner?  What if you beamed little bolts of recognition to everybody?  Even strangers.  Even the ones who generally get on your nerves.  A word here, a gesture there, a touch, a smile.  It wouldn’t take much.

How do you think you would feel when the day was done?  How would it change your world?

We Have Lift-Off

Billowing Clouds in a Vast Blue SkyWhatever is heavy, drop it.  Slash whatever rope keeps you tethered–sorrow, dread, worry, anger, shyness, fear, despair–to anything less than passion, than joy, than absolute exultation, and soar.  They’re all illusions; let them go.

Soar into the exquisite, mind-blowing, spirit-freeing, gusty, lusty liberation of the magnificent, one-of-a-kind, unparalleled, glorious moment until you think you’ll burst with joy.

Just for the minute of now, just for the blink of your eye, imagine yourself boundless, unbridled, possessing all, expanding.

Feel the eternity of tomorrows dancing through your veins, and all the yesterdays that ever were singing in your flesh.

Lose yourself in tenderness.
Chant the songs of the Grand Yes.
Be!
Breathe!
Soar!

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The Happiness of Acceptance

A Sun-Kissed Yellow FlowerHow very busy we are at wanting what is to be something else!  We paper over today with daydreams of yesterday’s news and regrets.  We scribble plans and worries all over tomorrow, while today sits sparkling all around us, all but unnoticed.

And yet, it’s today—this moment—that holds all the joy if we would just take it as it is.

Happiness—the real stuff—comes from opening our hearts and minds to what’s before us, to diving right into the moment’s juice and color.  Not judging.  Not comparing.  Not looking for lack or shortcomings.  Not even looking for treasure (although it’s always there, just waiting to surprise us).  Just simply looking, and allowing, and embracing it all as the gift that it is.

The moment asks nothing of us except that we receive it; it offers itself to us wholly and pure.  When we accept it as it is, standing in its center, we can respond to it from our hearts.  We can feel the depth of its texture, the sweep of its breadth, the direction of its flow, its unfolding potentials and possibilities.  And then we are free to dance with it from a place of conscious choosing, in accord with our highest and best.

From time to time, check in with yourself.  Ask yourself, “Am I awake?”  Let the dreams go; trade them for the now.  Be here—where it’s real.

A Blessing for the Journey

Stepping Stones Across the Stream.

May your pathway open into sunlight and stepping stones show you the way.  May the waters be placid around you, the breezes mild and the weather fair.

May each step you take enlarge you, expanding your vision, your courage and faith.

May you dare the unknown with confidence and find loveliness wherever you go.

May your heart speak thanks for every grace offered, and your hands reach out in kindness to all you meet along the way.

May you hear the grand Yes whispering all around you and breathe in rhythm with its song, knowing that it sings for you, and in you, and of you, for you are truly its own.

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The Happiness of Dreamtime

The Wildflowers' DreamSnatch a pinch of dreamtime on a summer afternoon.   Lock your cares in the closet, put your chores on the shelf, and just for awhile, let your mind drift, lazy and free.

Sink down into easy, all welcoming and warm.  Let it slide around your shoulders and pour out your toes.  Melt into the glow and the shimmer of your being.  Feel the liquidity of you dancing through your veins.  Feel the fire and air inside you, alive and coursing and real.

Feel the rhythm and the sounds of your breathing and your heart.  Sense the miracles of chemistry at play in your cells.  Wonder at the depth of your fingerprints, at the automatic flicker of your eyelids, at the sensitive vibration of the membranes in your ears, at the moisture that comes to wet your mouth.

Watch your mind machine spin thoughts, as light as cotton candy.  Watch them float in and flow by, your feelings rising with them.  Watch how you want to hold them and then choose to let them go.  Wonder at the choosing and at what it is that makes the choice and let the wondering go, too, as the sun pours onto your skin and the sounds of the world drift by.

Pretend you’re a feather and float on the breeze.  Hitch yourself to a cloud and sail it to the sea.  Dance with the wind.  Ride the sunbeams into the open mouths of flowers.  There’s nowhere you can’t go, nothing you can’t be.  Time and the cosmos are at your command, and all your wishes turn into stars to guide you, and always will.

Take an hour of summertime and let yourself dream.  The world will wait; it understands.  It has dreams of its own, not the least of which is you.

The Grand Harmony of Being

Artistry in the Weeds.

Every hue its place in the rainbow, every note has its place in the song.  Every motion, every season, every leaf and bug and star plays its part in the magnificent unfolding.

Even those things that live in the darkness.  The things we call vile; the things that repulse.  They, too, play their part, although you must stand at a great distance to see it and look through clear eyes.

Nothing goes to waste.  Nothing is unused or in vain.  Everything serves; everything supports and contributes. Every thought.  Every gesture.  Every breath.  Every word.

A hand larger than we can conceive weaves it all together into one endless song according to laws too high for us to comprehend except in the deepest reaches of our being.  And they guide us and shape us, as they do with all things, so that we, too, are a part of great harmony of it all, whether we know it or not.

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Diving into the Flow Zone

Red Hot FlowGrab that something that grabs your mind, that something that makes you lose all track of time and forget everything else in the world.  Open up the biggest space for it that you can make and then climb right inside it and ride it for all its worth.

Feel the tension of its delicious challenges pulling out your skills, teasing you to push just a little bit farther, to stretch just a little bit more.  Catch how it rivets your attention, how it dares you to cross your limit lines and dive into your genius zone headlong.

Watch how it plays with you, teasing out your best, your most inventive and determined.

And when you are done with it, revel in the pride and satisfaction of all that you wrought while under its spell.

That’s flow, man.  That’s riding your passion.  Work, hobby, play, it doesn’t matter.  It’s whatever really turns you on, whatever really turns you into one focused, red hot performer, baby.  Get you some.

The Songs of the Moments’ Beauty: A Happiness Tale

Song of the Sweet PeaJust beyond the range of human hearing (except for the hearing of the heart), the song of beauty sings.  It rises from like breath from every curve and contour, every turn of color, every gentle bending of light.

It wafts up from the shining morning dew, from wavelets on the sea, from the unfolding of a flower’s petals, the flash of birds’ wings in flight.  It soars up from sunrises and sunsets, from moonlit sweeps of sand.

It takes its rhythm from the leaping of gazelles, the blinking of fireflies and eyelids, the rise and fall of breath from all that breathes, the surging of emotions through the human frame.

Whole choirs of angels work to record each moment’s song, preserving them all in albums that you can play, if you so choose, when you reach the seventeenth dimension.  And if you do, you’ll find each one evokes the image of the moment that produced it, filled with its particular fragrance and color and motion and with all the feelings of all the creatures on earth.  I’m told it makes former earth-beings weep, so beautiful is its sound.  “I never realized,” they say.  “I never knew.”

Happiness Rules!

The Lamp in the GardenWhen my friend’s husband was laid off last year, she took a part time job as a cafeteria server, spooning up food to the residents of a local care-giving institution to help make ends meet.

One day, after she had been on a job less than a week, the cafeteria manager pulled her aside.  “You’re too happy,” he told her, somewhat sternly.  “That’s not our culture here; you’ll have to tone it down.”

Judy’s not a giggler.  She’s not boisterous in any way.  If I were to describer her demeanor in one word, I’d call her “pleasant.”  She’s a people-person.  She draws people out and radiates her appreciation for who they are.  She’s observant, and a listener, and she cares.

She was shocked by the reprimand, and at first she had no idea how to process it.  She had compliantly told the manager she would do her best.  But really!  Be less happy?

As the day wore on with the manager’s command echoing inside her for awhile, she finally found it so absurd that it seemed funny.  “What are they going to do?  Fire me for being too happy?”

She decided that she would continue to be exactly who she was, and let the chips fall where they may.  She continued to befriend her fellow workers on the serving line in her gentle little way, and gradually she learned the residents’ names and little bits about each one.  “Hello, Martha.  How are you today?  Did your niece have her baby yet?” she would ask as she dished up whipped potatoes or creamed corn.  “How’s that ankle doing, Fred?”

You can imagine what happened as the spring wore on.  The whole atmosphere of the place changed.  Stress levels lowered.  Efficiency improved.  The residents complained less, ate better, and their overall health improved.  I’m sure my friend was never seen as the agent of change.  But I have no doubt that putting her in that environment was like tossing a pebble into a pond.  The ripples of her gentle, loving joy simply spread and spread.

Happiness is like that.  Research has shown that if a person is happy, the odds of someone in close contact being happy increases by 15%.   And the likelihood of the second person’s contact being happy increases 10%.  Then, amazingly enough, the effect, called “Three Degrees of Influence,” even spreads to a third person, who has a 6% likelihood of being happy—even when the third person doesn’t know the first one.

You can find several morals to this story.  But I say, just let the power of Judy’s joy increase your own happiness today.  And pass it on.  You never know how far a smile and a kind word will travel.