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Beautiful People

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

                                                      Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

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The Horizon
AUTHOR
Jill  »

Sometimes in life the wall feels immeasurable. When the day is so bad the minutes pass by like years. In the valleys of our daily realities we often trek further down into hopelessness. The peak just doesn’t seem attainable from this far down. “This is life”, we tell ourselves, and the pressure and pain is the process and price of living. In these winter seasons we can so easily lose sight of spring on the horizon. We have endured and conquered many valleys before. And as our faith matures with each winter season we recognize there is growth in the valley. Our healing does not begin at the summit. God is with us even when we feel He is the furthest away. There is victory in every tear we shed and heartbreak we have endured; Christ was there. With Easter Sunday drawing near let us remind ourselves, some winters may be long, but the glory of spring is on the horizon. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

 How do we endure when things seem impossibly hard?

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The Wall
AUTHOR
Jill  »

I am sitting here, searching for an inspirational way to share a story about courage. As time pass I sift through shredded puddles of collected thoughts and phrases. My pen wades in the haze of my own hesitancy. Oh yes, finally a spark of something smart. Or maybe not, just clouds where my composed reflections should be. “Writers block may have got the best of me”, I say under my breath. Should I give up? The frustration and unease of feeling” I'm no writer” lurk in. I must push past this murky wall of angst, and just try. The completion of writing something is a success, I think. And, even though it shines an enormous spotlight on my imperfections, it is not a fail I do believe. Somewhere in between the do and don’t, I land on the cliff of courage, and transcribe this climb.

When was the last time you allowed yourself to lean into courage to get you through a difficult task?

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Only With Courage
AUTHOR
Steph  »

 

I am convinced that courage is the most important of all the virtues. Because without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently. You can be kind for a while; you can be generous for a while; you can be just for a while, or merciful for a while, even loving for a while. But it is only with courage that you can be persistently and insistently kind and generous and fair.                                                Maya Angelou

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With Heart
AUTHOR
Joan  »
The root of the word courage is Old French coer for Heart.  The Webster dictionary states it is the state of mind or spirit that allows us to face life without fear.  I love the idea that is is a state of spirit not just action.  I know when I face each day without fear it is because I feel God's presence in my heart directing my spirit at each moment.  Psalm 31 states Let your heart take courage; all you who hope in the Lord.  That is just one of the many biblical quotes telling us to trust in God, to "be not afraid".   When I call upon God to be grant me courage I am, in fact, asking for the ability to move through each moment of the day without fear.  And that is where the freedom to truly be present to my life resides.  May you find "the courage to change the things we can" each and every moment of your grace filled life.
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The Virtue We Need

The apostles are almost comical in their frequent bewilderment concerning Jesus.  Clearly, they never met anyone remotely like him before.  The way he looks at things is so original and surprising. He’s a genius in the way that he speaks to the heart of things in the disarmingly simple stories that he tells.  Most significantly, the apostles see in him a truly compassionate and free person.  Everywhere he goes, he brings hope and healing to the downtrodden.  The spirit that he’s got, they want.  It’s exhilarating.

At the same time, he scares the hell out of them.  They notice that he sparks resistance and hatred from the powerful who find him to be dangerously subversive.  Jesus knows what the authorities can, and almost certainly will, do to him – and yet he persists.  He challenges them to their faces. The apostles wonder how a person can be so fearless.  The courage he’s got, they want.  But it’s more than a little terrifying.

The apostles falter, sometimes spectacularly, in their adherence to his way.  Many times Jesus says to them something that he must often tell himself in his quiet moments, “Do not be afraid.” 

We Christians struggle, as the early disciples did, to understand and emulate his courageous ways.  We often don’t measure up.  Standing up for the poor, confronting oppressive structures, and opposing unjust laws and practices can take a Christ-like bravery. It’s daunting.

Courage is not always listed at the top of virtues to which Christians aspire.  Maybe it should be.

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Three Things
AUTHOR
Joan  »

When I became a manager with staff reporting to me I pondered what skills I would need to focus on given I had never had such a job.  I thought about the things I valued in people who have managed offices I worked in.  One of the top things was kindness.  This probably came to me because I had recently read a quote attributed to Henry James.  He stated "There are three things that are important in human life.  The first is to be kind.  The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind."

I was so impressed by that statement that I printed it out on a large piece of paper and hung it over my desk.  It is still there many years later despite getting a bit ratty on the edges.  I look at it each time I enter my office and, I would like to think, it has impacted how I am both in the office and away from my work.

 

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Be Kind, and Unwind
AUTHOR
Jill  »

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, the golden rule, for most of us it was the first rule we were taught as children. Such a simple phrase to remember but it is quite a hard one to practice. While we were young our circumference of interactions was small. It is not so difficult learning to consider those who already consider you. And I know, sometimes being kind can be even harder with those we love. Unfortunately, we even more so must practice being kind to ourselves. We must work our way inside out. Self-care, mentally and spiritually, is overlooked on a daily bases. Learning to break the bad habits of self-criticism and self-doubt will allow us to connect more genuinely in our relationships with others. So I suggest we make an updated version of our glitzy rule. Be kind to others and be kind to ourselves.

 

 

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At McDonalds

An arthritic woman, someone’s grandma no doubt, slowly and stiffly walks in out of the cold.  She sits for a while, then unwraps several layers.  Eventually, she painfully moves to the bathroom, returning 10 minutes later.  She sits again, pulls a cup and saucer from her bag, sits quietly some more, then makes her way to the counter and buys a coffee.  Back in her seat, she takes a minute or two before transferring the drink from the paper cup to her china.  All the while, I’m thinking I’ll put down my book and approach her to see if I can buy her breakfast.  Before I do so, a young business woman from the next table gets up and asks if she can get her something to eat.  She says she’d love an Egg McMuffin.  In a couple minutes the meal is on the table and the young woman is off to work.  The grandma fishes a knife and fork from her bag, wipes them with a paper napkin, and prepares to eat her breakfast.

 

Who says the city is a heartless place?  I’m grateful to have witnessed the young woman’s kindness.  How easy that was!  Often, it doesn’t cost much to show a little humanity.  No need to be hesitant when a clear opportunity to reach out presents itself.  Next time, I’ll be quicker to get on my feet.  Generous thoughts are good; simply acting on them is better.

 

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The Triple Truth
AUTHOR
Joan  »

Ahhh... humanity.  There are times I edge towards despair as to how I can have any positive impact on our seemingly battered humanity. As I pray for guidance I often am inclined to search out wisdom from sages I admire - Jesus, Buddha, Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, Winnie-the-Pooh and others.  Recently I found this teaching called The Triple Truth.  The Buddha, ever succinct, crystallizes what I need to do to renew humanity in my little time and space.

A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.

This seems so simple yet I forget I can change someone's the world with a simple smile, a kind word, a compassionate ear, a hug or a gentle hand on an arm.  By these actions I can renew someone's spirit or prevent their fall into anger, despair or sorrow.  To renew someone's view of themselves is a powerful gift.  It is a stone in a pond of someone's world that ripples out to all they encounter. 

What better way to contribute to the crucial renewal of our world and our humanity? 

 

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