January 19, 2018
Happiest of New Years to everyone!
Recently, one of our patients asked me if I'd ever read the poem "Footprints". He had seen it for the first time that week in a meeting room, it touched him so deeply that he wrote a song about it and performed it on Spiritual Friday. It was so beautiful and heartfelt.
After speaking to him, I felt compelled to read the poem again, and like the patient, it made me think of all the ways God has carried me through life. All the people and inspiring moments that have been vessels of God's love, care, protection and comfort. It also made me think about the times when I had thought that God had abandoned me, but little did I know that I was being carried.
Through poems like Footprints we get a "spiritual perspective" on life. I love these quotes:
"Entrances to holiness are everywhere, even at unlikely times through unlikely places. There is no place without the Presence." – Lawrence Kushner
"The only time we waste is the time we spend believing we are alone." – anonymous
We asked, "Who has carried you in your life?"
"EMT's, firefighters, sister, my grandfather, Rabbi"
"My mother's love, it's not even human, human love would have given up on me - my mom didn't."
"My grandfather is gone but is watching over me."
"My sister always told me 'this too shall pass'. That has always carried me."
"I was dragged, by something stronger than me."
"Often the instruments of change are not kind or just;
And the hardest openness of all might be to embrace the change
While not wasting your heart fighting the instrument.
The storm is not as important as the path it opens.
The mistreatment in one life never as crucial as the clearing it makes in
This is very difficult to accept.
The hammer or cruel one, is always short lived-
Compared to the jewel in the center of the stone.” – Mark Nepo
Spiritual Perspective brings such meaning, peace, letting go, understanding and compassion – self compassion.
I've attached some of my favorite readings below that give such a beautiful spiritual perspective on life. They also seem to be patients’ favorites. Please take a moment to read them, as they will bless you too.
After reading "Loving Life", I gave each patient a red ribbon, to serve as a reminder of the great value of their life and of how loved they are. Many patients asked for more than one, so they can share with others.
Buy some red ribbon! Tie a red ribbon where you can be reminded of the great value and gift of your life.
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to him and one to the LORD.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that at many times along the path of his life, there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it. "LORD, you said once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the most troublesome times of my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why, when I needed you the most, you would leave me."
The LORD replied, "My precious, precious child, I love you and will never leave you. Never, ever, during your trials and suffering, when you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
For Me, God Is Life
From The Spirit Recovery Meditation Journal
I hear all kinds of conversations and opinions about God, and who cares? I’m a human being, I don’t believe bling human includes an understanding of God. Does a little fish understand the ocean? I don’t need anyone to agree with my feelings ot thoughts about a Creator. What I trust today is that the greatest offering I can give to whatever my interpretation o God is, is the way I live my life.
If God created me then taking care of myself is the highest form of offering back to the Creator. I am lie. The Creator creates life. I can’t separate the Creator from the creation. One is an extension of the other. I am here to live life, and toady I am taking responsibility for my life.
All I see resulting from the need to define or interpret God is self-indulgent arrogance, anger, hate and war. I don’t believe, whatever God is, that any creator of life would appreciate our self-righteous destruction of that creation. Whether we’re talking about one country attacking another, or one individual harming him- or herself, non of that is a reflection of love or appreciation for life.
Today I am grateful for my life. I am grateful for my recovery and the freedom that recovery offers. I have made my amends to my Creator for all the ways that I hurt myself, and I have also made a promise that I will do my best to live my life with gratitude, love, loyalty and justice, beginning with myself and continuing with my brothers and sisters – one day at a time.
Professional woman and intellectual though she was, my Russian mother tied red ribbons to my crib and put them on my carriage. As I grew older she would often hide little pieces of narrow red ribbon in the pockets of my clothes or in my shoes. She would buy ribbon especially for this purpose and cut it into two-inch lengths. Although I never caught her inside my closet or going through my drawers, I would find these hidden bits of ribbon often. They became so commonplace that I hardly noticed them, and I always left them where I found them. They were there to protect me from the Evil Eye.
My mother left her ribbons in my pockets long after I was an adult. One day, I was cleaning out a favorite old purse and found one of them in the bottom. At that time, she had been dead for more than a dozen years.
These ribbons represented a worldview. As I remember it, a large percentage of my family’s communication was about saving one another from danger. There were so many warnings: Button Up! Watch your step! Watch your purse! Don’t talk to strangers! Drive carefully! In my early years, I had actually thought that this was what a family was about: presenting a united front against risk, offering each of us the benefit of many other pairs of vigilant eyes. Later, I found the same sense of vigilance among my colleagues in medicine. Perhaps such watchfulness is an inside-out way of saying that life is valuable and important, too important to lose or misplace. If so, perhaps it would be wiser to celebrate it more and defend it less.
There is a great difference between defending life and befriending it. Defending life is often about holding on to whatever you have at all costs. Befriending life may be about strengthening and supporting life’s movement toward its own wholeness. It may require us to take great risks, to let go, over and over again, until we finally surrender to life’s own ream of itself.
Too Far to Turn Back Now
“The march to freedom is irreversible” – Nelson Mandela
When the new nation of Hebrews was liberated from slavery in Egypt, they found themselves dead-ended against the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit. Facing the prospect of drowning, some of the Hebrews shouted, “Let’s go back to Egypt; there we will be slaves, but at least we’ll have homes and food.” Others argued that anything would be better than slavery, and they would rather take their chances than return to a condition that they have fought so hard to relieve. The rabbinical commentary on the Old Testament tells that some of the Jews walked into the Red Sea up to their necks before the waters parted. It was on their faith, the rabbis asserted, that the seas be open.
Like the newborn Jewish nation, there is a part of us that is tempted to return to the old when we are frightened. As we face uncharted territory, our sense of insecurity bids us to take refuge in out past. Bust as such a moment of anxiety, we forget that the past did not work for us; that is precisely why we left it. It is but the voice of doubt and fear that urges us to be what we were rather than what we are growing to become.
There is more to life than material security, and more to safety than the known. The only true security is in the Spirit, and the only real safety is freedom. We may have all kinds of material comforts, but if our spirit is not at peace, we are homeless. And we may have nothing in the outer world, but if our inner world is lit by love, we are unshakably secure.
Do not let fear tempt you to return to a condition you have outgrown. You have come too far to turn back now. Keep moving step-by-step, day-by-day, and miracles will meet you to take you to the other side.
Give me the strength to keep moving ahead until I realize my goal. I trust God to guide me to my new life and care for me always.