Tag Archives: Discrimination

True Sight, Leo Buscaglia

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Leo Buscaglia, 1924-1998

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

Have you found yourself recently needing to use strategies to help soothe yourself in the chaos that surrounds us?  You may be getting in touch with your creative side by crafting, cooking, painting.  Taking a daily walk in your neighborhood to relieve the stress may be your go to rather than filling your head with the newest media crisis to befall our nation.  Perhaps, you may be taking a keen interest in keeping your home spotlessly clean and your husband has all of his laundry ironed and hung neatly color coded on his side of the closet. Trust me, I have been trying all of these strategies recently as the media continues to bombard us with the latest political scandal, terrorist attack, police officer killing and hashtag group taking it to the streets. Of recent, I have found myself filling my thoughts with the writings of Leo Buscaglia, a great educator, author and soul of the twentieth century.  I remember first seeing Dr Buscaglia on Public Broadcast System television back in the 1970’s when I was a high school student living in a small town in Ohio.  He struck me with his wisdom and desire to help those listening to him find their way to love, life, and kindness.  His stories of growing up with an Italian mama and larger than life family were interspersed with his thoughts on how we can reach our fullest potential by becoming who we truly are rather than whom others think we should be.  And always, he came back to love and touching, reaching out to others with hugs of true affection.  Watching his televised talks back then were truly magical, making me want to grow up to be just like Leo.  A person, not afraid but strong, not artificial but genuine, not cruel but kind and loving.

Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong. Leo Buscaglia

Now, all these years later, we find ourselves in a new global community.  One where nothing is hidden; no distance from the poor choices and violence of those filled with evil and weakness. It no longer feels as if the cruel are weak, but rather that evil is stronger than goodness.  Suddenly, we are forced to really search out what is right, what is fair, what is beautiful.  We must remind ourselves, daily-sometimes moment to moment, that this evil is an illusion.  Truth and love and kindness are actually all around us.

We are no longer puppets being manipulated by outside powerful forces: we become the powerful force ourselves. Leo Buscaglia

We must come to look at this ever changing world we find ourselves living in with a quiet mind and a new sight.  As those of the generation before me would say, “It’s time to put on our rose colored glasses.” This idiom means we must consciously look at the world around us not through the lens of what evil is befalling, but, rather, we look with a view of what beauty is surrounding us as everything around us suddenly comes alive with the possibility of life.  It is as if we suddenly are seeing life for the first time.  Nothing becomes insignificant.  Everything holds beauty and possibility.  The drinking in of this beauty, the magenta flower tipping towards the sun, the birdsong as morning is breaking outside our bedroom window, the tall pines with sunlight dappling through their branches, the momma holding her young babe, the love filled greeting our pooch gives us as we walk through the door, will become a healing balm to our stressed and broken souls.

I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things… I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind. Leo Buscaglia

How do we develop this sight for beauty over angst? It is a learned phenomenon which is available to anyone.  It is never to late to learn to focus on the good, the kind, the loving.It takes patience with oneself to learn a new focus of our attention to calm ourselves.  One simply must determine to make a choice for good over evil.  We must decide to create the life we want which is emboldened and filled with all the goodness God wants to bestow on us.  Being open to experiences and peoples that are different than what we may have known in the past is crucial.  Breaking down separation and division and reaching out in love to share this beautiful world with all.  For perfect love drives out fear (1John 4:18). The choice is for each of us to make.  A life full of stress in which we live at the media’s whim of all that there is to fear in this world?  A life filled with the beauty that surrounds each of us every day if only we see it with a calm mind and clear vision?

Love always creates, it never destroys. In this lies man’s only promise. Leo Buscaglia

Wishing you at this time to live with true sight to see the beauty and love that surrounds each of you.

 

May you find gratitude and peace in every moment.

Joan

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Peace Pilgrim, If My People, Day 5

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Jeremiah 29:11-13: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

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His desire, as I contemplate His Word for Day 5 of my If My People prayer pilgrimage for our nation, seems as if it should be that we are at peace with and in Him.  It is His desire for us to know that His plans for us are joy, and hope, and peace and a future, as individuals and as a nation.  We only need turn to Him in humility and prayer with open eyes and open hearts.  So as I think of peace and prayer and a simpler life for each of us, I am reminded of Peace Pilgrim.

“As I looked about the world, so much of it impoverished, I became increasingly uncomfortable about having so much while my brothers and sisters were starving.  Finally, I had to find another way.  The turning point came when, in desperation and out of a very deep seeking for a meaningful way of life, I walked all one  night through the woods.  I came to a moonlit glade and prayed.  I felt a complete willingness, without any reservations, to give my life – to dedicate my life – to service.  ‘Please use me!’ I prayed to God.  A great peace came over me.”  Peace Pilgrim

Honesty with ourselves focuses our awareness on the true relationship between the actions of our body, speech, mind and the effects of these actions on our nation.  For there to be true change in our nation toward one of respect for all people we must still the distractions of our minds, such as fear and anxiety, to “grasp the truth” (Mahatma Gandhi) of how we effect our nation.  As the Dalai Lama  states, “I believe in justice and truth, without which there would be no basis for human hope.”  Most importantly, as Jesus, our Savior, has taught us that the greatest commandment is to love our God with our whole heart-mind-soul and secondly, to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mathew 12:30-31)  If we are able to place our faith, our trust in God’s plan for us, then he will bring peace to our nation by our realizing that in serving and supporting others regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disabililty, we are serving Him who knows the plans He has for each of us. Where there is suffering His plan most surely calls for us to soothe it with compassion, mercy and justice.

How does one calm the anxiety, fear, anger that is so rampant among many in our nation?  The brain is a magnificent organ which is able to process thousands of subconscious stimuli while allowing us to focus on one thought at a time.  Over the course of time, these thoughts begin to flow one into the other, much like waves in the ocean.  Thoughts may be about our trying to relive a past event, worrying about future events, awareness of all that is happening in our nation from civil unrest, separation of peoples based on skin color and religious beliefs, to terrorism here and abroad.  St Paul to the Philippians (4:4-7) tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I shall say it again,: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all.  The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  The the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  So we are to rejoice, not show anger, worry, anxiety in the state of things which we have no control over.  We are to show kindness at all times.  For the Lord is near, we must only seek Him in others we encounter.  We are to have no anxiety, but rather we are to pray at those times we find ourselves separated from His plan for our life.  A plan of prosper, hope, a future….

“To be at one with God is to be at peace…peace is to be found only within (one’s self), and unless one finds it there he will never find it at all.  Peace lies not in the external world.  It lies within one’s own soul.”  (Ralph Waldo Trine)  Our faith in Him leads us to a path of peacemaking in our thoughts, words, and deeds.  The emergence of peace will only come about when we have learned to respect the rights of others: people, of all color, beliefs, abilities differences.  Respect is evident by our honest appraisal of our lives in relation to others, sensitivity to the injustices endured by our brothers and sisters, and experiential changes that are consciously determined by what we know to be true.  We do not turn from our own or others suffering.  Rather, we look through the lens of compassion at the reality of our nation.  In honesty, we see the injustice around us and we begin to look after ourselves and one another in a kind, sensitive, and healing manner.  We find our voice and begin to speak out in love and truth for those who cannot, ourselves included.  As Jimi Hendrix sang, “when the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”  Where once we routinely closed our eyes and returned to the safety of our habits and unconscious actions, we now have the ability to open our eyes to what is happening around us and respond with honest actions out of compassion.  This is our spiritual journey, moving from unconscious to conscious choices in our thoughts, words, and deeds leading to a life of simplicity and harmony.  This is our path to peace.  As stated by Martin Luther King, Jr., “Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”

Mildred Lisette Norman, better known as Peace Pilgrim, was just a normal person, like you and I, who took on a personal mission for the last 28 years of her life to bring awareness to peace among mankind.  On January 1, 1953, she began her personal pilgrimage for peace and walked 25,000 miles until her death on July 7, 1981.  On her pilgrimage, she vowed to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.”  She lived a simple life as a pacifist, vegetarian, and peace activist.  There was no organizational backing for her pilgrimage, no hashtag label to separate her from others, and no money to provide food and shelter.  Her only belongings were literally the clothes that she wore, a  blue tunic which read “Peace Pilgrim” on the front and “25,000 miles on foot for peace” on the back of the tunic.  Her message was simple,  “This is the way of peace:  overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”  By the end of her life, Peace Pilgrim became a frequent speaker at churches, universities, and for local and national radio and television programs.  Peace Pilgrim was able to respond to the suffering she saw in the world around her by opening not only her own eyes, but those of the people around her.  She was able to bring awareness to others of the need for peace through the simple act of walking.  “No one walks so safely as those who walk humbly and harmlessly with great love and great faith.”  (Peace Pilgrim)

May I simply step out with my eyes open to the suffering around and within me.  With simplicity and harmony, I seek the path of peace through my thoughts, words, and deeds, knowing that He is ever with me in my seeking.

May you find gratitude and peace in every moment!

Joan

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Call to Me, If My People, Day 2

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Jeremiah 33:3  Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

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God’s phone number, Jeremiah 33:3.  Thirty-three three. 333.  His Word that tells us to call out to Him and He will answer by showing us great and mighty things.  It is what a group of my friends, family, and myself are doing for these next forty days.   Day 2 of my If My People prayer pilgrimage finds me thinking about calling on God and quieting my fears and anger enough to actually hear what He is saying to me in regards to the crisis our nation now finds itself in.

Calling out to God.  Asking, begging, His Holy Spirit to bring guidance to the citizens of our nation.  We are wounded, non-communicative, angry people who have become so used to the separation, segregation, discrimination that we have become blinded to it.  Terms being tossed around right now include things like “white privilege,” “post traumatic slave syndrome,” and the like.  Then we deal with #BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter, #LoveAboveAll, and so forth.  All these labels tossed around bringing confusion, and denial, and irritation, and frustration across all peoples in our nation, whose main difference among them is that some have more pigment in their skin than others.  And where has it gotten us on our own… just more separation and confusion and anger.  More death and violence.  Fear; that perfect love is finding challenging to overcome these days (1 John 4:18).  God is quite specific in His Word about calling out to Him.  Just look at Psalm 86:3, “Have mercy on me, O’Lord, for I call you all day long.  and Psalm: 145:18, . , “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” Even Jonah was told by the ship captain, “How can you sleep?  Get up and call on your God.” (Jonah 1:6).   As a nation, are we sleeping  like Jonah rather than looking to God to show us great and mighty things for our country?  Who among us is calling out to God? Who is crying out for healing and guidance for our people?  Calling aloud?  Roaring to God about the fright and the injustice that is filling our news stories and social media?  Is it you?  Is it me? James tells us that “We do not hear because we do not ask God.” (James 4:2).  It is time to start asking Him what He desires for our nation to bring glory to Him.  People, I seriously doubt it is more labels, more hashtags, more violence, more death.  Just sayin’…

We must shout out to God now.  Then we must quiet ourselves and let go of what we think we are going to hear from Him.  We must listen, quietly, for His still small voice to answer us.  The Lord will hear us when we call to Him (Psalm 4:3) and will answer us.  Getting on our knees, grabbing our Bible and rosary, and crying out to Him is not the hard part.  The challenge in all of this is to let go of a lifetime of beliefs, thoughts, feelings of what it means to have a relationship with people who are different than us…  Them….  The challenge will be to listen to what He tells us that He wants for our nation and follow His leading in this regard.  I read in a post today from a social media “friend” that she is approaching people of color and apologizing for what us “privileged whites” have done to them.  I was outraged when I read what she is doing.  All I could think of is “How dare she speak for us… for me.”  And what is this response…. Ego, fear, anger…plain and simple.  Why not in this time of great racial tension approach those who are different and offer an olive branch of love, kindness, humility?  As Mother Teresa of Calcutta is quoted as listing many things in life that are hard to do and then she admonishes us to do them anyway.   I’m sure it was hard for my friend to say to perfect strangers that she was sorry for the discrimination that they have had to live with, but she did it anyway.  Who am I to not offer this kindness to those around me.  For me, this is the hard stuff.  Wouldn’t it be nice if God waved a magic wand and made it so that we did not have to humble ourselves with one another. Alas, He is quite clear in yesterday’s Word of 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people… humble themselves and pray…”  Humbling oneself is difficult in our culture of “I am the center of the universe and can do and say what I want regardless of the effect it may have on another.”  Yet we must keep in our very heart the following thought:  love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control will beget only more self-control, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, forbearance, peace, joy, and love (Galations 5:22-23).

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Encouraging you to keep God’s phone number close at hand.  Feel free to use it any and all times these next forty days.  Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:15) and listen for God’s response.  He will do mighty and wondrous things for our country and bring true healing to all our citizens.  All we need do is ask.

May you find gratitude and peace in every moment on our prayer pilgrimage for our beautiful country.

Joan

 

 

 

Seek My Face, If My People, Day 1

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2 Chronicles 7:14 If then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.

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My forty days of prayer for our nation began today.  Out of the gate, I am already called to ponder that which fears me the most, differences among people.  Looking at 2 Chronicles 7:14, which is the verse that my friends and I have been praying over today has a number of “if you” behaviors performed by us, “then I” consequences from God.  If we as Christians humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, turn from sin, then God will hear us, forgive us, and heal our land.  Sounds simple enough.  Except for the fear part.

My family of origin is white bread all the way.  I grew up in a small town where we had one  black family attend our school for maybe six months total.  I once met a Jewish kid at an summer theater program.  Other than that, we were all white, Christian, and nondisabled in the area of town I lived in.  Back in those days- before social media created a global community within our world, there was absolutely no discussion of homosexuality and no one even knew about transgender issues.  Just all of us the same, day in and day out.  It wasn’t until I went to college that I realized there was a kaleidoscope of beautiful colors and abilities and lifestyles in the world.  Life was not all white bread.  It was wheat, rye, pumpernickel, and even a touch of sour dough.  And it was beautiful.  I thought that I was living the dream, free of distant family prejudices and fears, unfounded beliefs of differences.  To me separation and segregation and discrimination were just words that had no bearing on my life and thus I assumed were not real to other people.

Then 9/11 happened.  The illusion of safety our country lived with was broken.  America was vulnerable and life became us and them.  Them being terrorist, people of the Muslim religion.  My first moments of discrimination leaking through when my husband hired a Muslim man to work in his lab and I asked why he would hire this man after the planes had just taken down The Towers.  His reply was “Mohamed wasn’t a terrorist on the planes.”  Come to find out Mohamed’s family had suffered tremendously under Saddam Hussein’s rule in Iraq.  Mohamed showing way more courage than I could ever have when forced to enter the country secretively to check on his mother with the real threat of being caught and killed for doing so. However, fear is strong and it comes to all who lend a blind eye to it.  I felt comfortable with my fear of Muslims, terrorists, ISIS.  Who in our country was not afraid of these people?

Then Trayvon was killed and suddenly we had #BlackLivesMatter.  I could not figure this one out in my thinking.  Of course black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter.  To me, there was no white privilege.  There was no discrimination as I knew and had heard over and over that there were laws to protect black people from being discriminated against.  Then Dallas happened and sixteen innocent police officers were shot, five of whom died (Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarirpa, Brent Thompson), at the hands of an obviously mentally ill, hate filled man who chose evil over good, violence over peace at a #BlackLivesMatter protest rally over the recent deaths of two black men in two different states, Alton Sterling and Philando Castille.  This was the moment, when many of us opened our eyes and realized that we as a nation are severely wounded.  Prejudice and discrimination are still alive and well in our country. Suddenly it was time to pray, pray, pray.

So today I’m looking at 2 Chronicles 7:14 and I keep focusing on “seek my face.”  The quiet whispering of the Holy Spirit encouraging me to place my faith in God’s perfect love to cast out my fear (1John 4:18) when seeking God’s face.  Seeking God’s face seems insurmountable as 1John 4:12 tells us that “no one has ever seen God”. but we are to find hope in His promise that “if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us.” (1John 4:12).  If God’s love is in us, then we may seek the face of God in those around us; others met in our day to day lives, strangers and loved ones alike, those who look like us and those who are very different from us.  It is easy to seek God in those I love and am familiar with. However, God challenges me to seek Him in those who are different than me, whose race, religion, culture, sexuality are not the same as mine.  This challenge has been overshadowed with feelings of fear and indifference sadly by many in our nation.  But our God remains in us and others, nonetheless.  He never leaves nor forsakes us, calling us to be brave and courageous in our seeking of Him (Deuteronomy 31:6).  It is through God’s grace, my intention to find Him in those very different from me, and with prayer that I seek and find Him in others.  If I can overcome my fear of those different from me, I can transform my heart.  In transforming my heart, I can transform my life.  In transforming my life, I can transform the world.  Prayer, grace, intention these three things, but the greatest of these is love.  Perfect love that casts out my fear of those who are different than me and allows me to seek the Face of God in all….

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

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May you always seek the face of God and may you always be blessed with recognizing His face in the faces of others.

Wishing you gratitude and peace in every moment, Joan

 

 

 

 

“Little Ways” of Love: Holy Monday, 2015

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Isaiah 61:1-2 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly….”

Do you have a Facebook account or other social media?  Did you ever friend a family member or acquaintance whom you might not have known well, but felt obligated to include them in your circle of social media?  Did they have a different fundamental belief in some area than you and played their God card only for you to be outraged at the error of their beliefs?  Did it get ugly with name calling, blocking, and other outrageousness?  Yeah, I dealt with this last week-end.  Sadly,  Indiana has recently passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  I wish the people of Indiana had listened to Pope Francis when he stated,  “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” — Interview aboard the Papal Plane after World Youth Day in Brazil.  Discrimination is wrong and not of God, simply put.  I cannot wrap my head around interpreting this bill any other way.  Trust me, I have heard it all from devout Christians in my social media circle as well as those in my immediate family who felt the need to defend this act on my Facebook wall.  I fear that until the Supreme Court takes an interest and rules on whether sexual orientation is a civil right, we will continue to struggle with this new discrimination based on the right of the individual to refuse to service another based on their own religious interpretation.  It is saddening.

Which brings me to our Bible passage which is being pondered by Catholics around our world this Holy Monday, as we continue to prepare our hearts for the most important of all holidays in our faith, Easter.  Originally, Isaiah, one of the great prophets of the Old Testament, shared these verses as he proclaimed what God had anointed him as a prophet with a job to do.  Jesus in Nazareth cited Isaiah 61:1-2 when he stood before His people and after reading the verses, He announced “Today, this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18).  Naturally, that did not go over very well with those who had come to the service as they were expecting a Messiah that would come in glory and strength, not a local carpenter who came from an unwed mother.  I am sure that news like that tended to stay around for awhile, small town mentality and all.  (How dare that Jesus think he is the Messiah.  I heard that Mary and Joseph weren’t married when he was begot. No way is he even capable of the job we need done in a Messiah.   Yada, yada.)They did not realize that in the most humblest of circumstances the greatest of God’s purposes are accomplished for His glory.  Thus His Son, the Messiah, was indeed begot by a young, unwed virgin and born in the lowliest of circumstances to the poorest of poor among the people.

So Jesus announces and confirms His mission statement in Nazareth, repeating the words of Isaiah that He has come and with the Spirit of the Lord’s anointing He has been sent to cheer, heal, proclaim, release and announce.  If this is His mission, we as His believers, must find this to be our mission as well.  We are sent to do all these things as we are now His hands, His feet, His heart here on Earth.

So I ask, how is it that we are to cheer the lowly?  Who are the lowly?  The poor in spirit?  Do I trust Him enough to let go of whatever my agenda is to be anointed by Him to perform this cheering which He has called me to?  I am reminded of Mother Theresa of Calcutta stating “God did not put me down here to be successful.  He put me down here to be faithful.”  So it is with each of us.  We must walk in faith and give up our successes and agendas and perceptions on who is deserving of our respect and we must serve others.  Even if this means in Indiana looking past whatever behavior you do not respect, and simply loving and serving the person in front of you, regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.

How do we serve the lowly, whether in actuality or perceived lowliness?  St Therese of Lisieux, a Catholic saint who lived in the mid 1800’s, is known for her Little Ways.  She taught through example that the way for each of us who wants to serve God, need look no further than littleness, simplicity and love.  It is not necessary that we all perform great sacrifices or mighty works to accomplish bringing good tidings to the lowly.  If we live our life doing for others in love and obedience to His calling, we are showing love in the “Little Ways.”  Matthew 18:3 tells us that Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  We must become child-like in our love, devotion, and care of our fellow man.  We must eat with the sinners and prostitutes and tax collectors and homosexuals, without hesitation.  Daily we must attend to them in the little things.  For it is in the little, day to day interactions that we show God’s great love for His glory to our brothers and sisters.  Those whom the world has time and time again tried to infer that they are less than.  The friends of Jesus.  As He did even though it led to His Walk of Sorrow on Good Friday.  For that we give Him our thanks, our love, our life.  Because had He refused to serve those whom He felt were lower than He, none of us would ever have risen with Him on Easter morning, anointed and forgiven and much loved by a Father who had spent an eternity to love us.