Tag Archives: Giving

Loving, Forgiving and Loving Life Again

Bestowing beauty while healing

Photo by Chungkuk Bae/ Unsplash

I had a very close friend call to wish me a happy Jewish New Year. She told me that she had seen a man going through the trash outside of her house and had asked if he was hungry. He said he hadn’t eaten all day. She went in and packed him up some food in a grocery bag. She looked him in the eye and asked his name. He had started looking in his wallet to give her ID, as if he was in trouble. She told him she hoped things would get better for him.

It is a custom to collect food for the poor at this time of year but here was something that went beyond bringing cans of food to a temple. This was direct human upliftment. My friend laughed and said when her partner heard about what she did, she would say that now the man would come back all the time. I said she could tell him that it was just a one time hand out to honor him. My friend laughed and asked herself, ‘what if it wasn’t?’ “What if I spend an extra thirty dollars at the grocery store each week and can help him out?”

This story goes beyond mere charity. My friend has struggled her whole life to climb out of the shadow of a horrendous and abusive childhood. She told me this is the first time in her life that she doesn’t feel like a victim but a survivor. She credits her survival, beyond therapy, to love and friendship.

We are heading into Yom Kippur, which is a holiday of forgiveness. The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are an opportunity for reflection and atonement. The idea is to reach out to those we have wronged during the year and ask for their forgiveness. Although, there is a divine prompting to this ritual, it remains a chance to become vulnerable, to open ourselves up to our humanity.

Throughout her journey towards being what she calls, ‘ a survivor’, my friend has consistently been a bright light of love to those around her. She has raised beautiful children, she has been a teacher. She has been not only a lighthouse but a shelter for those that she perceived to have been abused. She stands up for the rights of others. She has been a pillar of friendship and faith in humanity for me. She has even forgiven the one who tormented her. This was not because she condoned their actions but for her own sanity.

 

It seems she has forgiven life itself for the hardships it has handed her. She has managed to find the vast good and beauty life paradoxically holds out to her. This is the kind of forgiveness that allowed her to laugh and bring hope and joy into her world, even while she wrestled with the lie that told her she was no good. She has navigated through the pain to the fullness of what can be given and received.

Yom Kippur uses the imagery of a Book of Life. We are encouraged to say to one another, “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a healthy and happy year.” Beyond religious conviction, this ritual prompts us to expand our circle beyond ourselves, but to be included in the rippling gratitude that recognizes faults, slights and hardship can all be overcome with love and forgiveness.

May you be inscribed for a meaningful and transformative year of great beauty that brings you and those around you a freedom vaster than survival.

You are the Earth- The Earth is You

Reaching the ‘Becoming Life Point’.

“Captain Tree: ‘Leaf your worries behind.

Climb up high.

Be still and you will find.

See the world as it was meant to be.

Free, free, free.’”

-Ira Scott Levin (Uncle Eye)/ Captain Tree

***

In honor of Earth Day, I humbly suggest that the Earth is here for all of us, regardless of our belief, culture, or point of view. It does not discriminate or judge us. Silently turning, it churns out life in myriad forms.

Throughout history, poets have paused to listen to the Earth’s song whistling through the meadows and mountains.  Its verses are endless but the refrain is essentially the same:

“Make of me what you will for you are me and I am you.”

The Earth is modeling a way of being that encourages us to recognize what we have to offer.

If I were to find the cornucopia, the mythical ‘horn of plenty’ that perpetually pours out fruits, nuts and flowers, I would be overcome with wonder. If I thought I was the cornucopia, and could offer beauty and nourishment to everyone I met, it would transform my life. If I lived on the cornucopia and was not aware that I was a part of it, I might not take the time to be still enough to recognize what was at hand.

The famous mythologist, Joseph Campbell, interpreted what the poet T. S. Elliot called the  “still point of the turning world” as “The energy of the center. The inexhaustible fountain, of the source.”

He reflects on this “source” further by saying, “The source doesn’t care what happens once it gives into being. It’s the giving and coming into being that counts, and that’s the becoming life point in you…

…I think of grass- you know, every two weeks a chap comes out with a lawnmower and cuts it down. Suppose the grass were to say, ‘Well, for Pete’s sake, what’s the use if you keep getting cut down in this way ?’ Instead, it keeps on growing.”

Think of this within you.  How often does life try to beat you down? We are subjected to life’s forest fires, that flare up and claim what we love. There are bitter winters, droughts, floods; we are strip -mined, poisoned, polluted, over-populated and yet…Like the Earth, we can still access “the becoming life point.” We may be broken open but are capable of bestowing beauty and nourishment to ourselves and those that are not even here yet.

So, here’s to the Earth and here’s to you my friend. May you come into the fullness of your splendor.