Seventy Times Seven

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It is not possible to get to Carnegie Hall without traveling the path of practice, nor is it possible to find joy without the practice of forgiveness.  Practice, practice, practice.

In my continuing quest for peace of mind and happy endings, I am more aware than ever of the need to put my money where my mouth is and stop talking and start doing the inner work that is necessary to move forward on the path to enlightenment.

In answer to my impassioned plea for more joy in my life I was rewarded with the opportunity to practice what I preach.  This answer comes to me in the form of a person who is so in-your-face angry and contentious that I want nothing more than to see the back of her head when she walks away. The experience of being in her presence is so disturbing that my heart ties itself into a knot just thinking about it.  Sometimes I think that God has a very mischievous sense of humor.

Twice I have received guidance and insight into the path to forgiveness of her and twice, it has slipped away.  How fleeting these precious thoughts can be, and how quickly I forget!  I need to write it down so that I can remember and practice, but it is so elusive that I ask for help to remember and recapture those ephemeral thoughts.  Help comes in the form of a poem.  Well, sort of.  I’m not a poet.

She is not angry with me
She is angry with the world
Those in her path reap her wrath
Rather than respond with anger
I prefer to offer forgiveness
Yet forgiveness is hard to find

She is not angry with me
The world has done her wrong
Her anger lashes out on others
And she drives them away with her fury
She is in great need of forgiveness
Of herself, of others, of the world

If I cannot find forgiveness
Perhaps I can find compassion
Compassion for her suffering
Compassion for the pain that drives her
And understanding of the intense grievances
That clog her heart with the fear of love

Jesus implores us to forgive seventy times seven
I may find it in my heart to forgive today
Yet tomorrow will bring renewed opportunity
When she stands in my face once again
With a glare, a frown and bitterness in her heart

In her current state of mind
She is helpless to help herself
But I can refrain from my judgment of her
And silently acknowledge her suffering
In exchange for her anger and contention
I can offer compassion and forgiveness
And a prayer of peace and love for her
Seventy times seven

 

 

 

 

The Peace Thieves

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There are a few people in the world who make me want to hide myself under the Harry Potter invisibility cloak.  They are the peace disturbers, the annoyers, the ones who make me crazy with just a word, a look, a comment, a request—that’s all it takes to send me off into a world of anger, frustration, criticism, or judgment.  Try as I might, it seems impossible to avoid some sort of conflict or contact with them.  I hear a voice, I turn and do a quick-step in the opposite direction.  Then another pops up and blocks my exit route. There’s no escape.  While there are only a couple of folks who have that effect on me, it seems more like an army. They’re everywhere.  It’s maddening.

I try.  I mean, I really, really try hard to not allow myself to be negatively impacted by the words and deeds of others, no matter how underhanded, manipulative, or controlling I perceive them to be.  Once in a blue moon, I succeed for a minute, but a minute is about all I can manage to muster up before the next offense rises up and challenges me to get over myself and behave like an adult.

Maybe it’s karma. Maybe it’s lifetimes of unhealed junk that I’ve carried around in my backpack for as long as the world has been spinning.  Maybe these blessed souls are there for the sole purpose of teaching me some sort of a gigantic life lesson.  Maybe I’m not getting out of here alive before first realizing that avoidance is not the best or healthiest way to deal with a troubling situation.  The most troubling of all is the wee perception that what I perceive as “wrong with them” may be something within myself that needs to be healed, else I would not be able to recognize it outside of myself.  Yikes.

Sometimes it helps to focus on the benefit of letting go.  Sometimes it’s a matter of asking myself my least favorite question, “What’s in it for me?”  What’s in it for me to forgive a husband who had a brief fling with a friend?  My knee jerk reaction was to distance myself from the co-respondent, along with the entire group of friends of which we were all a part.  My unwillingness to associate with the betrayer fueled my departure from a group of friends that I enjoyed and robbed me of a large piece of my social life.  Oh, the things I do to myself!

The forgive-and-forget plan fell short of its goal, and neither avoidance nor denial provided solution or solace.  I was the one left suffering the effect of my own anger with the loss of peace, trust, and friendship.  The infraction of one person (well, maybe two if you count my philandering husband) who had crossed a line had rocked my world.

Two years after the discovery, as I was riding down Connecticut Avenue on my way to work, I had an epiphany.  I suddenly saw that I was the one denying myself the joy of love and friendship by virtue of my blame, criticism, and judgment of one person.  I was the one stuck on my righteous attitude of anger and blame.  I was the only one suffering while the others went merrily on their way without me, utterly clueless about my pain.  I was the one refusing to forgive because clearly, I was right and they were wrong. Right?  Wrong!

With that epiphany came another—the instant realization that since I was the only one suffering by my own hand (or head is more like it) in this scenario, I was the only one who could change the situation that I had created for myself.  I was my own peace thief.

Simultaneously, another amazing thing happened.  An actual desire to let it go and forgive and forget washed over me and a spontaneous prayer arose within me. Oh God I truly do want to forgive this situation, but I don’t know how. Please help!  And I sat back, let go, and relaxed.

Day by day, little by little, inch by inch, I began to feel better until one day soon after, I awoke and discovered that it was gone—all of the blame, criticism, anger, judgment—gone.  In the midst of the quiet miracle that had occurred within me, it dawned on me that forgiveness requires true willingness.   Only the sincere desire and heartfelt commitment to forgive will open the floodgates to the miracle of forgiveness.  It doesn’t work if there’s even the tiniest bit of anger or resentment. Sometimes one has to be willing to be willing to be willing to let go and forgive.

As I ponder my attitude toward my current peace disturbers, I must sit myself down and ask a soul-searching question.  Am I truly willing?  Do I really, really mean it when I ask for forgiveness such that I can stand to be in the same room with one of my peace thieves and not wish to commit dishonorable hara-kiri?  Do I have it within myself to pull it off? Do I?  Can I?  Will I?

Yes, I do, yes I can, and yes I will.

To my unwitting teachers of peace, I pray that with each thought of you, my heart opens spontaneously so that I may clearly see that purity and radiating love are a force in your life.  I pray that I look beyond any and all behavior that causes me to think less of you, or that distorts my image of you as anything other than the Truth of your being, which is Love. 

With my backpack fully loaded with willingness, desire, and a prayer for forgiveness, all I need do now is sit back, relax, and be amazed and grateful for the miracle that restores me to peace and floods my life and the lives of others with love and grace.

So what’s in it for me?  Only peace of mind. Oh–and maybe a bit of happiness too.  That’s all.

To Do or Not to Do?

 

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I’m not a Catholic girl, but recently I’ve noticed a tendency to want to start new blogs with, “Forgive me Father, it has been 13 days since my last blog.”  I’m not quite sure what I need to be forgiven for, but I have concluded that clearly, it must have something to do with myself.  Whatever.  Maybe the answer to that will become clear as this blog—or this day—or this lifetime moves on.  We’ll see.  Or not.

I’ve done a lot of blog stop-starts in the past few days but they are just that.  Starts and stops.  Life is like that sometimes—a series of starting stuff that I don’t finish.  Maybe that’swhat I need to forgive myself for, especially those days when I just can’t seem to get out of my own way.  Heaven help me—I’m in a blog fog!

A few days ago when lethargy was the order of the day, I blamed it on post Royal Wedding Blues. All of that glorious anticipation and activity leading up to The Great Moment when Harry and Meghan finally tied the knot and we all had our curious little questions answered.  Will Harry wear a uniform and keep his beard? Will he wear a wedding ring? Who will walk Meghan down the aisle?  What will her dress be like and who was the designer?  You know—all of those intriguing questions that tickled the world’s fancy for weeks on end.

Well it was either that, or a week of grey gloomy weather that added to the post wedding blues that got me, or maybe a combination platter.  Whatever it was, voila!  Instant depression.  How depressing!

Okay so today is a whole new day and I’m over it.  I’ve allowed myself the luxury of a full do-nothing, guilt-free, three-day wallow and now it’s time to move on.  There is something really therapeutic about giving oneself the gift of a good wallow, provided it is not allowed to go on for too long lest it become self-defeating hence unhealthy.  Three days max.

Now here I am, fresh as a daisy, bright as a star with a whole day (albeit another gloomy one) in front of me with nothing on my calendar and nothing pressing to do.  So many options, so many choices!  In her recent blog, Natalietalksabout.com inspired me to declutter a jewelry drawer.  I could do that, I suppose.  Or write a blog about decluttering (and with any luck it might even make it to the finish line).  Or I could stop procrastinating and plant some flowers and herbs in the pots on my balcony.  Well maybe—I never like to rush into anything.  Whoa–were those the Blue Angels that just streaked overhead past my balcony?  If I had been out there tending to pots, perhaps I wouldn’t have missed seeing them.  Oh well–maybe later–

Meanwhile, lest I fritter away the entire day in indecision mode, best I pick one and just DO it.  So here I am DOING it, and as it turns out, the IT is a blog.  Well, whatdya know—I think maybe it might even be finished.  Today there is hope about making it as far as the jewelry drawer.  I’m not too sure about those empty pots however but God willing, tomorrow is another day.

Hot dog.  Today there is nothing to feel guilty about or forgive myself for.  Not today, not any day, no matter how naughty I think that I may have been. God bless God for giving us do-over’s—the chance to fix what isn’t really broken in the first place.  I’ll drink to that.  Except that I don’t drink anymore.  Drat.  Maybe I’ll just celebrate with a push of the post button and dance a little happy dance instead.

Ye haw.  Thank you God!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Surprise Sucker Punch

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Do you ever review your day just before going to sleep?  I do—and last night I had to face the music and ask myself, “Egad—what in the world was that?”

Yesterday was one of those head-pounding, heart-pumping, vein-popping nightmarish kind of days that nearly sent me over the edge of sanity into the brutal realization that I ain’t perfect yet.  Dagnabit.  When am I going to learn?

Here I thought that I finally had it all together (well, maybe just some of it) only to be shocked into the awareness that just like anyone else, I am not immune from the blast of anger that lurks just beneath the surface of my usual calm manner that is ready to flare up unexpectedly to pounce and punch—and Heaven help the person who happens to be innocently standing in the way when it does!

Unlike the nightmares of The Pink Panther (2/26) and Trashy Dreams (4/22), this was a daytime nightmare from which I have not yet awakened nor barely recovered.  Lessons, lessons, everywhere lessons.

In addition to owning the title of Queen of the Trash Room, I also seem to have acquired the honor of being dubbed Queen of the Movers, or chief-in-charge of the many comings and goings of the condo building where I live.  This one tops the list of the Make-Me-Crazy jobs on my list of Crazy-Things-To-Do.

Yesterday’s move was the pinnacle of the move-from-hell experiences.   The guys on the truck broke every condo rule in the book, resulting in multiple complaints from irate residents who had every right to be angry about the inconvenience created by the truck blocking the entrance/exit to the garage. They refused to move.  Period.  They simply refused to move.   Needless to say, I lost it and things went downhill from there.

My normal behavior would have been to slip into facilitator/mediator role, but I was so blinded by my own anger that I got caught up in the melee, unable to find my way clear.  Fortunately, I soon realized that I was part of the problem rather than part of the solution, and I backed off and apologized for my untowardly behavior toward the movers, but not before I gave myself a good tongue lashing for my behavior.  I felt ashamed of myself and embarrassed by my loss of control.  That sucker-punch caught me by surprise and rather than responding with kindness, I reacted to this little head-on collision with anger instead.

It’s times like these that I need to remember that I’m not broken and I don’t need to be “fixed,” but sometimes when in the midst of such a daytime nightmare, it sounds easier said than done.  Happily for me, I have a strong faith and belief in the power of love over fear, and that I need only remember that love is the best soft-serve antidote to all things conflicting.

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As my head hit the pillow last night, I felt my body struggling to recover from the nasty blast of stress that occurred as a result of the day’s fray.  Heart and head both pounded from physical, mental, and emotional strain and kept me awake and asking myself how I had gone so far over the edge so quickly.  What was the trigger that set me off?  I don’t have the answer to that yet, but at least my head is a little clearer in the light of day.  What did I learn from this unfortunate encounter?

  • It’s easier to catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
  • Think before I speak.
  • I am not broken and I don’t need to be fixed.
  • Though I may lose it in the moment and never have an opportunity to heal a rift between myself and another, I can still practice the art of love, forgiveness, kindness, and compassion with both myself and those whom I may have harmed.
  • I can reaffirm my resolve to sit down each day with the friendly voices within myself for a refreshing dip in the fountain of awareness and enlightenment.
  • But here’s the kicker of what I really learned.  I learned how important it is to have a strong spiritual belief system.  I learned that yesterday, I had failed to have a little daily chat with my sane, loving unseen voices.  I saw how quickly a situation of minor proportions can quickly morph into a major incident such that those involved might be brought to use violence as a means as a so-called solution to the problem.  Or that a family disagreement can cause a major lifelong fracture that goes unhealed.
  • This incident also reminded me that any situation may be used by the powers that be to heal, bless, and heighten the awareness of those with eyes to see and the willingness to engage in the practice of doing whatever they need to do to add peace to their world and to the world in general.
  • Any experience—no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable, no matter how happy or unhappy—can be used as fodder for a blog.  So thanks for this experience of something to write about, my friends (I think!).

By the way—in case you may have forgotten, I’d just like to remind you (and myself) that we are absolutely perfect exactly the way we are.  Let’s face it—we’re all doing the best we can.  If we could do it any better, we would.  And one day when we’re ready, we will.  Meanwhile, I highly recommend that you simply sit back, relax and enjoy the journey.

Today I’ll thank the voices who are always there for me, I’ll remember that I’m not broken, that I don’t need to be fixed, that I can own and love my behavior and see it as a gift cleverly designed to move me along on my path to enlightenment like it or not (and sometimes I don’t, depending of the form the lesson).   I can see it as a growing experience rather than use it as a weapon against myself, and know that I am always loved and forgiven and I can always love and forgive myself and all others in my world.  And yes, even my enemies.  Well—not so easy sometimes, but I’m working on it!

I also learned that my blissful, joyful, state of euphoria can be quickly destroyed by unhealed anger.  So I’m making the choice for love and will keep my sights set on Nirvana.  It may take awhile, but I plan to stay on track till I make it!  Maybe I’ll see you there, huh?

Oh—as a final note (there always seems to be a final note, right?) I want to add that starting right now, today, this very minute, I have returned to “Thank You God” mode. All day every day, Thank You God Mode keeps me in a state of joyful bliss and out of trouble. Apparently I flunked Gratitude 101 yesterday.  I won’t make that mistake again today.  It’s too stressful!

Thank you,  thank you, thank you God for ALL blessings, both great and small.  And speaking of gratitude . . .

Oh–and here’s other final note.  (Do they never end?)  This blog was produced before I even had a chance to say thank you to all of you wonderful family, friends, and fellow bloggers for your lovely and positive comments about the last post, but hang tight.  I’ll get there soon!  Meanwhile, please know that I appreciate your kind thoughts!  🙂  To those who are following my blog, THANK YOU!