Dark Messages from the Night

I wake peacefully in an orderly room.

Yet, here, in the dazzling new light

Myriads of dark voices speak from the night

Of sirens, terror, and trouble

Obliterated rooms in cities of rubble

I throw off the cover and move fluidly to my feet

Hearing pained whispers of those incomplete

With missing limbs, children, and necessary things

My face wet with water while the desktop dings

Then, I choose my breakfast from a chilled collection

While feeble voices moan for help and protection

It is there I digest the message, You are not quite safe

Perched here, precariously, on the edge of fate 

 

This poem is not about fear, it is about awareness of the troubles millions experience on this planet right now, and about how easy it is to be oblivious to, and surprised by, the imminence of change.

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Today I Dance

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A friend sent this years ago after my sister had died. (She had always loved dancing and dragonflies.)

The sentiment was nice…and fun, but much easier said than done.

Sometimes life just seems too serious for dancing, yet dancing is as natural as breathing; it just happens…unless we hold it back intentionally. And if we hold it back for too long, we may explode!

Even when life feels sad, especially when life feels sad, we have to dance. We might have to start with a slow dance and a cry while we dance, but we must dance. After a while, the music changes us and we can dance our heart out.

Then, life will meet us where we are.

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The Plain Truth

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Tragedy, unfortunately, is a plain truth of life.

But…

Those who maintain perspective and refuse to take themselves so seriously still win.

That is also plain truth.

Some of the happiest people I know are those without the things I have convinced myself I must have.

The plain truth…

A good sense of humor

A good smile

Kindness

Gratitude

Passion

…are the essential elements of a good life.

These are the things I really want. And the people who have these things are the people I really want to be around.

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What We Have in Common with the Angry California Killer

The suspect who tragically killed seven young men and women and injured many others was angry at women who snubbed him and the men they chose over him.

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We can show surprise and disgust at his arrogance and his motive, but the tendency to stand as judge and jury over those who have what we want is not foreign territory to any of us. It’s always easier to blame “the idiots” than to ask, “What do I need to change about myself?”

When we don’t get the girl, the guy, the job, the win, the recognition, or whatever it is we think we deserve, it is always the perfect time to look for a mentor who will not be afraid to tell us exactly where we are off track. (Face it, most friends won’t tell us and we don’t listen to our enemies.)

Without taking personal responsibility for our trajectory, we will play the victim or the martyr with an angry script that ends, at best, in self-destruction, and at worst, in the destruction of many others’ lives along with our own.

 

The Impossible

If you have yet to see the 2013 movie, The Impossible, it may be worth your time. The movie, based on the true story of an English family in the 2004 tsunami, offers much more than entertainment. Here are some of my take-aways:

  • Never, never take anything for granted. Life radically changes in the blink of an eye.
  • In preparation for the unexpected, be your strongest self every day. Others are counting on you.
  • Never give up. Hang on to hope.
  • Be generous and caring even when your life is at stake. Generous (no strings attached) people make a big difference in any circumstance.

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Two-Minute Tune-Up 12.15.12 Preparation for Darkness

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Do not merely ask, “Who could do such a thing?” Also ask, “Help me recognize the depth of pain, loneliness, and anger in humans who think of doing such things.”

Do not merely ask, “How could something so terrible have happened?” Also ask, “How can I be more in touch with the painful, tragic things that are happening in people’s lives and hearts right now.”

Do not merely ask, “How can I physically protect myself and my family from this evil?” Also ask, “How can I  psychologically shield myself and others from despair and live a courageously positive life in spite of tragedy?”

And, not only, “What can be done?” but, “What can I do?”

The only effective preparation is a daily recalibration that broadens perspective and unites our spirits to each other…and to the longer story of redemption.

Two-Minute Tune-Up 7.21.12 Super Weapons

According to the stories I’ve heard, the bios I’ve read, the people I’ve met, there is no circumstance or fate that cannot be overcome or, at least, made more bearable. There are more people than you can imagine dealing successfully with whatever is challenging you today.

The problem is that we often think we are alone in our suffering. (Google can snuff out that illusion in one click, btw.) 

When despair visits your heart or when the unexpected steals your future, I hope you will look around before you give up. You may be surprised to find these three weapons… faith, hope, and love… still available in the world and bringing relief in the most dire of circumstances for the people you’ll want to meet.

 

Two-Minute Tune-Up 5.19.12 Sometimes the Only Thing to Do is Dance

“What a journey…what a day…what madness, so much worse than tragic! What to do except dance, dance, only dance…” – Abraham Verghese (from Cutting for Stone)

Reading books as Cutting for Stone remind me that the world is  often a very brutal place to live…but also that redemption, kindness, nobility, and love also inhabit very dark places. We can choose to let the tragedy and brutality bury us or we can choose to dance for the good that cannot be extinguished.

Prepare to dance today, by deciding to:

  • Listen for the music
  • Delight in simple pleasures
  • Laugh at yourself
  • Express Joy!
  • Smile at the future

I hope you won’t be late for the dance!

Two-Minute Tune-Up 3.29.12 Will the Real World Please Stand Up?

In Kate Braestrup’s book Here If You Need Me she tells the story of coping with her husband’s premature death through the lens of her work as a Maine Game Warden Chaplain.

 I resonated with her description of the “parallel worlds” of light and darkness and the hinge” of death or tragedy that can swing us suddenly from one into the other.

We can live casually, surrounded by the comfort of things and people we love, but, we must always remember the temporal nature of this state. Things will change; our whole life will swing into uncharted territory. And, I am convinced, along with Kate, that if we want to know where God is in all of the upheaval, we must look for love

…in whatever world we find ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Minute Tune-up 7.8.11 The Sting of Mortality

A gut-wrencher of a tragedy is a trip to a baseball game that ends in death while a son watches his dad catch a ball for him. How do we explain and live with the pain of such abrupt, nonsensical abortion of life?

Countless people suffer every day with similar pain. They’ve watched individuals they love suffer and die, some from tragic accidents for which they feel responsible, some from the carelessness of others, some from malevolent forces against which they felt powerless.

The shock. The confusion. The guilt. The anger. The loneliness.

No easy answers.

Trust. Hope. Wait for the rest of the story.

I was going to be paralyzed whether I was happy or sad. It was much easier when I was happy. – Mabry (accidently shot by his cousin)