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Saturday, December 31, 2011

WallowallowalloW

I lately have been contemplating the fine line that lies between allowing and wallowing. In fact, there are four lines—they form the letter “w.” How does this one seeming insignificant letter (as compared to let’s say the ever-popular “e” or “t”) distinguish between these two quite common states of being? What difference does that initial “w” make? After much consideration, I have come up with the following explanation.

To allow is a healthy and necessary stage of emotional processing. I must make time for leaning into negative feelings as they arise—whether fear, pain, anger, whatever. They are signals that point the way to my welfare. I must accept the temporary discomfort that carries with it a valuable lesson. When I allow, I am bending toward an experience, giving myself space in which to feel the gamut of my emotions and permitting them to run their course. When I allow, I can move on in time.  

Wallowing is when allowing becomes no longer productive. When I cross the line (all four of them) from allowing into wallowing, I hold onto the feelings, rather than let them pass through me. This is fruitless and, in fact, destructive. When I wallow, I am immersed in, covered with. There is a sense of suffocation, of drowning. When I wallow, I remain stuck in emotional mire.

I don’t believe that a clock or a calendar determines the initial “w” in question. In other words, a week at home alone does not equate allowing, and a month under the covers does not necessarily constitute wallowing. So, how can I tell when I’ve crossed those four little lines?

When, even in the midst of my inner turmoil, I know there will be a “payoff” for my pain, that’s allowance. When I see a “wall” of resistance in front of me blocking my way to healing and reconciliation, I know I am wallowing. The “w” is significant after all.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Friday, December 16, 2011

Enlightening Acronyms

I was asked, “What does it mean to meditate?”
I replied with the following acronyms.

Mindlessness Ever Determining In Time A Transcendental Estate

Making Easy Days Inevitable Through Attention To Eternality

Melding Effortlessly Down Into The Avatar Transcending Everything

I was asked, “What is prayer?”
I answered what it is not.

Please
Relay
A
Yes

Be Enlightened!  ~ M

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lessons

“Fudge. Fudge. Call the judge. Momma’s got a newborn baby . . .” Our lilting little girl voices sang in unison as pudgy pink arms, one on each end of the rope, made wide circles—up, over, slap the ground—up, over, slap the ground. The plaid pleats of a maroon and grey skirt brushed the knees of one who was “in” while the starched white Peter Pan collar swatted her chin each time the soles of her saddle shoes pounded the pavement.

Jumping rope demanded rhythm. It took practiced skill to know when to enter, when to flex the knees, when to spring up, when to exit. Then there was the tricky part of being able to do all of that in tandem with a classmate while passing a stick, a pretend key, to her as she would take over your spot after you skipped out on cue. “House for rent, inquire within. When I move out, let Debbie come in . . .”

That was not the only lunchtime game that required agility. Corpus Christi girls, forced to be outside on Searing Avenue in Mineola for recess even during Long Island winter afternoons when the condensation of our breath made us feel like mature smokers, also tossed stones onto chalked hopscotch boards. Aiming for a particular box required concentration. Balancing on one foot was essential. So, too, securing that pleated skirt with one hand while bending at the waist to reach with the other and retrieve your pitched potsy, lest your flowered panties be in full view of onlookers.

I have a long list of lessons I learned on the playground while enjoying two of my favorite activities. They have served me just as well as those I learned seated behind a desk in the classroom. Even as an adult, a daily dose of fresh air and fun is imperative. It keeps me from taking life, and me, too seriously. Sharing activities with friends while laughing and singing elevate my mood. Keeping a steady rhythm through life is necessary; if my pace gets too quick, I will trip over life’s ropes. I must know when to leave a situation, when to gracefully make my exit. Sometimes, I must step aside and allow another to take my place. It’s important for me to surrender the key that I had used to lock others out; I need to hand it over and allow them in. I try always to have a goal in sight and aim for it. Balance between work and play prevents me from falling over. And I don’t have to show everyone everything I’ve got. Oftentimes, it is best to retain an air of mystery.

Did your childhood play offer you lessons you abide by today? If so, how about posting them here? Be kind enough to share them with us in the comment section below.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Monday, October 31, 2011

Guided By Appointment

If I want to know what a particular professor or public speaker has to say, I mark my calendar with the time and date of the next seminar or speaking engagement. When I want to catch-up with an old friend, we set a meeting time and place where we can attend to one another without distraction. If I have an ailment that needs medical attention, I set an appointment with my doctor. I have found this same method of tremendous help when I am in need of spiritual guidance.

We all have spirit guides, angels, to help us on our earthly sojourns. Rather than calling on them at random times, I feel a stronger connection when we have pre-set appointments. For the skeptical ones reading this, I dare you to try it! In a moment of indecision, you may say a quick last-minute prayer asking for guidance. I suggest, instead, that you set aside a particular day, time, and period for communing with your guides. Let them know when, where, and for how long you request to confer. State briefly what it is you need help with. Then, show up.

Let us suppose your scheduled time is Tuesday evening at 7:20 p.m. for one-half hour. By 7:15 p.m. on that day, be certain that all distracting activity has ceased. Get yourself into a meditative state. For some, listening to instrumental music and/or lighting candles may be helpful background. Get into a comfortable sitting position and have a pen and paper in front of you. Tell your guides aloud, or quietly within, what assistance you are seeking. Why are you calling on them? Summarize your situation and ask your questions. Then, listen and wait.

Depending on your unique style of psychic receptivity, [we all have it!], you might hear a message, see a vision, or feel an intuitive leaning toward an answer. Write down what comes to you. Do not be discouraged if no clear answer comes immediately. Because you have initiated this contact and opened your channels, you will be lead, though perhaps not in the manner you may have expected. When your scheduled time is up, be certain to thank your angel guides for the meeting regardless of its outcome. After expressing your gratitude, set up the next appointment with your guides letting them know the day and time you wish to meet with them again. Remain alert in the interim.                         

We can tune in and draw wisdom through our spirit guides at any time. I find that being guided by appointment is particularly helpful in getting me more focused. Perhaps you will too. For those desiring stronger contact, try inviting a friend and his/her guides to your meeting. Be sure you are both zeroing in on the same question or situation and compare notes afterwards. The more the mightier!

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bloom-Bound

I have found that it is not the things that come most easily to me that hold the biggest rewards, but those things that challenge my perceived limits. It is in rising to a high call, surpassing what I ever thought I could possibly accomplish, that outstanding victory is known. If I want to achieve the ordinary, I do what is easy. But if I want to be illumined by the remarkable, I quest toward the light of my greatest possibility.

That great possibility is not usually clearly defined. Often, it emerges from a series of trials and errors, ventures and gains. Patience is a necessary component to its discovery. If I have a fervent desire in my heart, I nourish it by focusing on achieving it and by taking all steps I know toward it. If, over time, it is not readily coming to pass, that does not mean it is not supposed to be. It does not mean that it is not a right path for me. If my desire still burns, it means I am in a holding pattern. There is something more I need to learn before stepping into the new role. I will be led into situations that will present lessons necessary for me to master before I can take the next step toward the dream. I need to remain patient. Remain focused. Be aware. Watch for signs and heed them. Dream realization is an incremental process, like the blooming of a rose.

If I attempt to open a rose bud by force, the petals fall to the ground. I am left with a bare stem. If, however, I allow Nature’s course to gradually unfold, I will eventually see the bloom. This teaches me: Don’t rush the rose. Allow divine timing to play out. While in its bud phase, the rose cannot see the splendor of its future blossom. It cannot know the role it will someday play in the beauty of a bouquet. It only knows to follow light.

I, like the bud, seem to be in a period of gestation. I patiently remain focused on the dream as I quest toward the light. I welcome the necessary lessons that are preparing me. Where am I headed, some are wondering. I tell them, I am bloom-bound.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My August

When July ended, I could not have known what my August would bring. To use an analogy, the flowers in the garden of my life had begun to wither. The soil of my soul was in need of intense cultivation. I had to dedicate my August to that task if there was to be hope of a future harvest.

Beautiful blooms were visible up to that point; I had become proficient at mowing the weeds. But I found that when we clear only at the surface what is undesired, the roots eventually strangle what is lovely. The weeds must be exposed and plucked from where they originate, deep down. A tilling of the ground is necessary before it is feasible to plant fresh seeds. And though rewarding, gardening can be an arduous and lengthy task. I cannot measure according to my own timetable the exact period required for sowing and reaping. Germination is a process.

My August was a time of reevaluation and personal reflection. With the world at bay, and outer static quieted, I found that I could listen more closely to the whispers within. I know not what the coming month has in store, but I do know that I will remain in this protective chrysalis stage while I surrender to transformation.

My dear readers, if you feel led to share a story about your August, please do so in the Comments section below. I may not be able to respond directly to each post, but know that heart-wise I am with you as we gently approach what could be splendor in September.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Connection Campaign


There is a common thread that runs throughout all humanity. There is an invisible cord by which we are strung one to another. The ego mind, however, has a tendency to separate and divide us from others. It wants to stand alone, on top. Walls are erected and distances are established.

But we are not meant to be solitary creatures. We appear to be separate, but separation is an illusion. In essence, we are One. In the deepest parts of ourselves, we yearn to remember that.

To rekindle the awareness of unity, I propose a world-wide Connection Campaign. I suggest that we each make a daily effort to connect with at least one other person. If once per day seems overwhelming for you, perhaps you could commit to connecting with another person once per week. Start where you are at. Find a way to relate. Foster love. Take part in my Connection Campaign.

The object is to let the other know that he matters in the world. How can we know that we are noticed, loved, and appreciated if we are not told or shown? Be a bridge to span the seeming distance between us. Find common ground. Focus on that which unites, rather than divides.

Connection Ideas

A genuine smile can initiate an intimate connection. Go beyond a rhetorical “How are you today?” Ask and expect a sincere answer. If asked, answer and then reciprocate with the same question.

Has there been a particular someone on your mind? Pick up the phone or send an email to let him know he’s thought of.

On a sultry summer day, invite your mail carrier in for a cold glass of iced tea.

Compliment the cashier’s hairstyle.

These are just a few ideas to help you get started. They need not cost you monetarily.

FAQ

How does this Connection Campaign differ from the idea of Random Acts of Kindness?
Here, you are asked not to remain anonymous. You are asked to reach out and to give the other the opportunity to reach back. The goal is to forge connections with others so that no one feels alone.

Connection Stories

Please share a connection experience in the comment section below. Tell us what you did today to connect to another person. Tell us how another person reached out to connect to you. Feel free to make an entry as often as you’d like.

Thank you for participating!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Enlightening Excerpt

"We come to this world with a set of gifts to share with those around us. One of our duties, I believe, is to find out what those gifts are and give them."  ~ M

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Life Is like a Buffet

Yesterday, I stepped into a microcosm of my life when I entered the China Buffet in Sarasota, Florida. It first struck me as I answered the host, “One,” when he asked, “How many?” It was true that I would be dining at a table by myself, yet I would not be alone. I would be part of the collective whole of diners dispersed throughout the restaurant. I am a solitary individual who emerged from the womb alone, yet I am a part of the collective whole of humanity. We are each Oneness individualized. Do you grasp the magnitude of that?

My cosmic realizations continued as I was escorted to a small booth whose table displayed a miniature plastic sign that read, “Please enjoy all the food you take, but be respectful of food not eaten and left on your plate.” It prompted me to ask myself if I ever take more than what I need or plan to use. I know I do not when I am at an eatery; I want it all, and I eat it all! But what about in a broader sense? Am I mindful of future generations who will need the resources that are at my disposal today? I do not keep the water running while I brush my teeth, but I do allow the shower to flow while I shave my legs. I do recycle my plastic, glass, and paper, but I don’t think twice about refilling my fuel tank. Are there areas in your life where you are utilizing more than your fair share?

A few tables to my right, there was a restless three-year-old wailing. Nothing satisfied him. No amount of coddling or cajoling alleviated his angst. His father removed him from the crowd for a private time-out. I was reminded of times when I, like the little boy, am insatiable when it comes to attention and incessant when it comes to complaints. There are times when I, too, am needy, clingy, and want to cry out loud. What a nuisance to those around me! I have often injected myself into a social atmosphere when what I really needed was a time-out with The Father to rebalance. Are there times when you feel it might be best to stay alone for an hour or a day just to restore? Honor that.

As I was helping myself to the smorgasbord, I noticed another plastic sign. This one read, “Please use a clean plate for each trip to the buffet bar.” It reminded me of the best way to approach each new day—with a clean slate. Let go of what’s sullied. Let the soiled be washed away. Start fresh. Use a new wineskin for the new wine, lest ruination. What are you still carrying that needs cleansing?

There was an abundance of food laid out, plenty enough for all present. If every customer wanted pork lo mein, then pork lo mein would continuously be provided until all had their fill. One’s gain would not mean another’s loss. Neither is life a zero-sum game. There is more than enough to go around. Why then, I asked myself, do I sometimes fret that I will be left short-changed? Do you ever fear lack of universal supply? It is only an illusion.

That renewed abundance, however, may require an appeal and some patience. When I noticed that the Chinese honey donuts were gone, I asked a worker who was refilling other trays if he would please replenish them. I waited several minutes with no results, and then asked another worker for the same. In the meantime, I chatted with a fellow customer, served myself some ice cream, and took a trip to the ladies’ room. When I returned, there they were! The tray was overflowing with Chinese honey donuts. I asked for what I wanted, and then I waited patiently until it was given. Are you persistent and expecting when you present your desires to the Universe?

As always, at the end of my meal I looked forward to the fortune cookie containing sage advice that was certain to accompany my bill. I swear, each time the message is divinely meant specifically for me. Yesterday’s advised, “Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.” Just what I needed to hear in that moment! I often base the success of my day on outward appearances. It would be wise for me not to ignore the deeds done. What messages is your life speaking to you? Are you open and receptive to them?

When I was through, I trusted that someone would come along to clean up after me, so I left a tip as a Thank You. It is so important to continually express gratitude daily, but especially appropriate at the end of each day. We can say thank you for the nourishment we received for our bodies, minds, and spirits. Thank you for the lessons that were presented and the opportunity to master them. Thank you for the chance to try again where we may have fallen short.

Yesterday, I realized that life is like a Chinese buffet. Bon Appétit.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Last Goodbye

The elevator doors slid shut with a ding. For the vertical span of three floors, I was entombed with no sign of life save for the fluttering butterflies in my belly and the blinking numerals next to the shining silver buttons. The smell of antiseptic did not seep into this box, but the pungent odor of leftover cafeteria stroganoff did.

With another ding, the doors unclamped their grip and I was free to approach the over-bright fluorescent corridor. Straight. Turn left. Last door facing ahead at the end of the hallway. My footsteps were slow, my heartbeat rapid. I did not know what to expect. How bad would it be?

The picture window offering a view of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge was the first thing I noticed as I entered the room. Beneath it, a white-haired woman, drawn, hunched in a sea green vinyl chair. This is what a grieving mother looks like, I thought to myself. Aunt Helen? She rose and advanced. We greeted each other with our family’s perfunctory kiss of the air to the side of the right cheek. She returned to her distant seat.

To my left, jutting from the wall was a single bed that housed a skeleton. Cousin Larry? Ignoring the red signs posted in strategic places throughout the room warning of contamination, I approached him slowly and kissed his forehead lightly. I pulled up an aqua blue vinyl chair next to his bed and sat close to his right side. With ungloved hands, I reached for the Styrofoam cup of water that was sitting on his nightstand. Realizing he would be unable to lift himself to an upright position for drinking, I also retrieved the disposable straw—one with an elbow to bend to his mouth as I held it between his chapped-to-the-point-of-bleeding lips.

Angry lesions covered the visible areas of his body. The unseen areas beneath the light blue hospital gown and stiff white cotton blanket were sure to be the same, maybe worse. His eyes were sunken and their twinkle absent. Is this the boy that I, three years his junior, played handball with against the graffitied concrete wall? Is this the boy with whom I melted Crayolas into Coke bottle caps for shooting skelly? Is this the boy who taught me to light firecrackers? What had happened to the mischievous pre-teen with whom I had spent so many weekends in Flushing, Queens? How did the last dozen years since then lead him here like this?

I doted on him, not knowing what else to do. “Are you still thirsty? Are you cold? Shall I get the nurse?” I wanted to relieve his symptoms as a way of relieving my own anxiety. I wanted to alleviate his mother’s shame and tell her it was no longer necessary to pretend that he had skin cancer; I knew it was AIDS. I knew this would be our last goodbye, and I wanted this visit to be meaningful. But, instead, I commented on how lovely the vase of daisies looked on the windowsill, I straightened the Get Well card dangling from the corkboard near the foot of the bed, and I again reached for the cup of water with the elbowed straw.  

It is a privilege to be welcomed into the process when one is preparing to transition from one plane of existence to another. It is a sacred trust bestowed upon us when we are invited in while the worldly is being released. We are oftentimes nervous when we enter, uncertain what to expect. We are not sure what to say or how to act. It might feel more comfortable to keep away and distant. But when we can overcome our own discomfort, or at least bear it, and remain present for another; when we can hold a quiet space for the dying and grieving; when we can surpass the compulsion to engage in meaningless chatter that crowds the space for intimate conversation; when we can sit still; when we can be with rather than do for, then this is the greatest gift we can offer and the most loving tribute we can pay as a last goodbye. I wish I had known that then.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, July 10, 2011

On Creating

It was the thin blue lines on an otherwise blank sheet of paper that called to me in the night, beckoning me to write. I, in compliance, rose from my cozy cocoon of cotton layers and sauntered toward the light to find my pre-dawn companion—my medium point rubber grip Bic with the blue ink. Together, in perfect tandem, we danced and glided across the page, one thin blue line at a time. To jot it all down was a drive as necessary as my next breath.

With pen to page, something cracked open inside me like the delicate shell of a hen’s egg being shattered against a Pyrex bowl at breakfast time. Protectively encased memories now slipped out like yolk. My beloved Bic aided the release as he obediently followed the guide of my hand like a perfect lover.

At dawn, I read what I had created. Satisfied, I smiled.

For me, writing is more than a means of communication; it is a creative outlet. I rarely go to sleep at night without a pen and pad nearby. Written words on a page —whether musical lyrics, poetic lines, or academic prose—beg to be birthed through me. I set an intention before bedtime, make it a point to be prepared, and then allow myself to open as a channel for inspiration to flow.    

We all have creativity inside of us waiting to pour forth. Maybe there’s a picture that wants painting, a business proposal that requires formulating, or a garden that needs planting. A Muse is speaking to you. Sometimes, it’s like a maddening itch that demands to be scratched, and at others, it’s like a shy kitten peeking from behind the sofa. Are you listening?

To create is the natural tendency of universal energy, which is ever moving into and out of form. Ideas are born in the spiritual realm of potentiality. They become manifest through us when we allow the power of thought to act upon a concept. Our intention serves as the mold.

What ideas are springing into your awareness? Which ones do you wish to bring forth into the physical realm? Remember, the idea of a cherry pie will not manifest as one if you pour brownie mix into a cupcake pan. Thoughts and actions must align with intentions. This is how we create our desires.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Free to Choose

I sat beside him on a grey tweed blanket intended for use on an Army cot. The lawn beneath the course fiber was still spongy from the prior day’s storms. With elbows locked and palms flat behind me, I sat propped up with straight legs crossed at the ankles and my head cocked right. I watched him as he sat Indian style with hunched back fidgeting with a blade of grass between his thumbs and index fingers. Our chaperones, his parents, had perched themselves a few feet behind us on rust-pitted aluminum folding chairs with green and originally-white webbing.

As the sky dimmed, an air of palpable anticipation engulfed the tightening crowd. Intermittent crackles echoed in the distance, and the Mister Softee theme song jingled nearby. A bearded salesman peddled neon necklaces and flags on sticks. The laughter of young children pealed. Glowing citronella candles kept mosquitoes at bay. I was grateful to have been invited.

The show began with a loud boom and an explosion of raining diamonds. “It looks just like it does on The Honeymooners!” I proclaimed. We were Jackie Gleason fans, and what we were witnessing was reminiscent of the show’s opening scene.

Yeah, I guess.” Richard’s voice was near monotone.

Wow, look at the colors!” There was a vividness that my family’s 19” Sony had never known. My blanket mate shrugged his shoulders.

With each burst, my heart vibrated the way it did when the high school marching band paraded down Main Street on Memorial Day. “Do you feel that, Richard?” I noticed his hands were covering his ears.

When the display ended with a rumbling finale, we piled back into the brown side-paneled station wagon. “So, did you kids have fun?” Richard’s father inquired.

Yes,” we replied in unison. One of us was smiling, the other lying.

I never want to forget that first experience of watching fireworks live rather than from the couch in my family’s living room, and I do not want to forget its lesson. My childhood friend had seen live firework displays many times; it was an annual tradition for his family. For him, the novelty of it had worn off. He took for granted what exhilarated me. I could have allowed his boredom to dampen my spirits, but I chose not to.

In every circumstance, we are free to choose how we will respond. We are free to accept this moment or to resist it. We are free to choose the attitude with which we will face life daily. We are free to love and embrace or to reject and exclude. We are free to build bridges or walls. Will we retain childlike wonder, or will we allow indifference to reign? You, my dear, are free to choose. Do so wisely.

Be enlightened! ~ M
  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Connect

I sat at the dining room table engrossed in watching an online seminar when a succession of raps of the door knocker startled me with a persistent clang. “Who is it?” I bellowed, delighted by the prospect of a visitor, yet agitated by the interruption of my concentration.

With rolling r’s and a heavy Hispanic accent, “Exterminator,” a voice called back.

Gathering patience, I took a deep breath before I rose to bid the man enter. I forced a smile as I swung open the door and declared, “I’m glad you’re here. I saw two live ants and one palmetto bug on its back since you were here last.”

“Oh, jew deed?”

“Si, señor.”

A discussion ensued about my fear of bugs. I abhor insects in the home, even a Florida home in springtime. He called it my “fōbya” and told me that his was of “cheeken.” I did not admit that I found that a bit odd.

“You’re afraid of chicken? Really? You mean you don’t like to eat it? No le gusta comer?”

Grateful for a chance to exercise my Spanish and intrigued to hear his explanation, I lowered the volume of the video I had been watching. In Spanglish, I listened to the man’s story.

When he was three years old and visiting his grandparents’ farm in Spain, his older cousins locked him inside a crowded enclosed chicken coop. He was trapped in there from day until dusk. He could hear his grandma beckoning, “Eddie, ¿dónde estás?” Paralyzed by fear, Eddie did not respond. He did not want to further upset the furious fowls with loud shouts. Hour after hour, the chickens pecked at little Eddie in the dark. It was not until he summoned the courage to expose his location that he was rescued to safety. What began as an innocent prank turned into a daylong nightmare and a lifelong angst.

Saddened by his experience and touched by his sharing, I offered the still-tormented man a glass of cold water. “¿Quieres agua?” He gratefully accepted and drank it quickly after he finished chemically treating my apartment. Between his gulps, we talked some more. He seemed at ease now. I learned that he earned a degree in entomology from the same university I had attended. We discussed the value of education and my recent graduation. He spoke proudly about his extermination business being family-owned and operated. I told him of my attempt at freelancing. He commented that my Spanish pronunciation is “muy buena” even if my foreign vocabulary is lacking. I agreed with him about my need of practice.

Eddie handed me the empty glass and picked up his equipment readying himself to leave. I noticed a look of contentment on his face. I shook his hand cordially, thanked him for his service, and closed the door behind him with warmth of heart.
 
I suspect our brief encounter was as delightful for Eddie as it was for me. I wonder how many other clients take time to express interest in him, his story, or his endeavors. How many attempt to understand his language or try to communicate with him on a heart level? Eddie and I found common ground on which to stroll for a few moments. We connected, and both benefitted.

Connection with others is so important to our overall well-being. Recognition and validation are key. How often do we take time to truly listen to people? Do we care to learn their stories? Are we willing to share our own? Or would we rather cower in a corner and ignore love’s call?

Until we summon the courage to expose our vulnerabilities, we remain in lonely isolation being pecked at by that which we fear—rejection, ridicule, misunderstanding. Our lists are long. When we allow an interruption of our activities and we take time to connect with another, we foster love. And in love, there is no fear. In love, we find acceptance and understanding. In love, we heal. Who knows? Maybe after sharing that story, Eddie’s fear dissipated. Maybe today he eats drumsticks.

What I do know is that if an exterminator’s knock on the door on an ordinary afternoon could lead me to such illumination, there is no telling what miracles wait if we but listen, share, and connect.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Messiness

I offered a ride to a stranger walking along the side of a rural thoroughfare at dusk. I assumed that the car parked in the grass on the opposite side of the road was hers and that it had broken down. She bent over and peered into my passenger side window to make certain I was alone and unarmed. She climbed into the back seat, thanked me for rescuing her, and gave me directions to her house. I tried my best to ignore the stench of cigarettes and booze.

As I drove, I glimpsed in the rearview mirror and noticed the stranger crying. I compassionately inquired about her upset and listened to her story. Her car did not break down. In fact, the one I saw did not belong to her or to her inebriated husband who moments before had put her life in grave danger with his reckless driving. She told me she saw no other option than to eject herself from their rapidly moving vehicle to escape his fury. He had sped away leaving her alone in the dirt.

I was surprised to hear that through this harrowing experience the woman’s main concern was that she not snag her new pair of four-dollar pantyhose. Sensing something quite bizarre about the entire situation, I proceeded to ask her several questions as we drove on.

“Do you think we should call the police from my cell phone?” I worried about our safety if the enraged husband were to be home awaiting our arrival. “Would you like me to drop you off at a friend’s instead?” But the woman insisted that she’d be fine if I would let her off two blocks away from her house, which was approximately five miles from where I picked her up. I complied.

“You’re an angel!” the stranger declared as she exited. She reached for my hand and gently squeezed it. I cautioned her not to accept further abuse, and I silently prayed for her safety.

Before driving away, I glanced at the back seat to make certain she had not left anything behind, like the purse or sweater she was carrying. Yes, she had left something behind. She had urinated in my back seat! The upholstery was saturated in a large circle. In disbelief, I watched out the window as the woman walked away from my car in urine-stained shorts and brand-new pantyhose.

Upon hearing of my Good Samaritan experience, my cynical schoolmate Kristina remarked, “That’s what happens when you try to help someone. You get pissed on!” I was pissed off and on.

Today, I laugh at that situation not because the circumstances were funny, but because of the peculiar ways in which life presents its lessons. I learned that when we get involved with others, things can get messy. But that should not deter us from opening our arms to another who needs a lift. Sometimes, we need to clean up after one another. Someday, we might be left in the dirt or in a back seat where we lose control. How can we expect an angel to pick us up when we are at the curb of life if we are not willing to do the same?

I do not know what my stopping the car meant for that woman. Perhaps mine was the only act of kindness she was offered that day. I was blessed with an opportunity to assist, and I gratefully accepted it without a stain of regret.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sacred Moments

It was an ordinary evening in May. With blue doggie-poop bags in hand, prepared, my friend and I took an after-dinner stroll with a canine, expected to relieve herself, in tow. We headed for the short paved trail that meanders through a small wooded grove in Beverly Hills, Florida. We began an easy conversation about how our day, the third of my visit with her, had gone and what the rest of the week might bring.

The sudden stirring of a predator in low flight caught my attention and interrupted our ramblings. Startled, I questioned, “What was that?” A quick jerk of my head to the left, then right, then upward transported me from the tree-lined path I had trodden numerous times prior to an arborous sanctuary I had never entered before. I was captivated by the scene. My heart took a picture.

Spanish moss draped overhead from an umbrella-like configuration of branches, Mother Nature’s tresses against a twilight sky. Majestic and proud grandfather oaks held high, like trophies, three owls the size of cats. Limbs reached out to me like generous arms extending gifts of natural beauty, offering freely what no wealth could purchase. Fragrant pines surrendered their therapeutic aroma, and I inhaled deeply. My friend’s steps paused. The dog stood still. The owls, appearing dignified and regal, remained reverently hushed as if they too sensed the sacredness of the moment.

I relished the spectacularity and wordlessly asked, “What do you know, oh wise owls three? What do you see as you peer down from lofty heights with knowing eyes unblinking? Teach me your message.”

The sting of a mosquito’s bite and the jingle of the dog’s collar confirmed the transience of deep pleasure. It was time to continue our walk. As we headed back toward her home, my friend admitted, “If you were not with me, I would have been looking down at dog stuff. I would have missed this beauty.” Her words made me mindful of how much splendor we inadvertently deprive ourselves of regularly.

Often, we allow routine to distract our attention away from the natural wonderment among us. We tend to be like moths to the flame of the proverbial candle we burn at both ends. We fail to look up from tending the tasks at hand. Daily, we blindly carry on unaware that there is a flitting wren whose melodic song will cease long before the din of Good Morning America. There is a rollicking child whose silent wish to romp with us will be outgrown in the blink of time’s eye. There is a setting sun whose orange flames will dissipate more quickly than those beneath the chicken we’re grilling.

It takes but a change of our perspective, a slight tilt of the head, a glance in the opposite direction, to be intrigued by beauty we had not noticed before. Take time to observe sacred moments, the fleeting ones.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Plunging

“Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump!” the crowd below chanted as I stood ten feet above them on the high diving board at the Mineola Pool on Long Island. I had managed the twelve-step climb to that point despite my trepidation, but on the springboard I was frightfully immobile. I saw only two options. One was to take the same twelve steps backward down the ladder to where I had come from. The other was to take the plunge.

I jumped. As my trembling prepubescent body penetrated the water, an enduring life lesson penetrated my soul. Sometimes, it is necessary to “do it afraid.”

It took a few seconds for me to orient myself; this depth was unfamiliar territory. I found that when I relaxed, when I didn’t struggle or panic, I naturally rose to the surface without much effort. My head found its way toward the light where there was air to refill my lungs. I was OK.

When I returned to the Mineola Pool the following summer, as a more confident and daring adolescent, I ascended the same twelve steps. This time, I needed no cheering crowd to encourage me. Standing ten feet above them on the high diving board, I spread my arms—winglike. Then I jumped, plunging with faith into the waters that caught me.

Three decades have passed, yet the message has replayed repeatedly in my life. At times, after taking the necessary steps toward a goal, I have been paralyzed by fear, unable to move forward with a plan. Then I remember that my sweaty palms are not necessarily an indication that I should not proceed with an endeavor. That thumping sound in my ears may be more than the pounding of my nervous heart. It could be the sound of the springboard beneath my feet.

In these decisive moments, if we will only be brave enough to leap and not turn back, the benevolence of life will ensure our safety. We will find our way toward the light. We will be given breath. We will be OK.

Be enlightened!  ~ M
Every event prepares us for the next.
See here my first attempt at plunging,
many years prior to ascending
the high dive ladder.