Flying High … Surprise Perspective

I am all about traveling light. Who wants to pack up your mind worries anyhow? I say, the least carryon the lighter the load. It’s good to leave routine behind, take a break with air travel, relax and cast a gaze at the wide-open sky.

In times past, I’ve been one to buckle up, settle in with a handy book, and maintain all my familiar electronics nearby. This time I was ready to unplug from all my devices and truly simplify in a world of restful thought.

I enjoy seeing the world from the blue sky and high elevation ~ the breathtaking views while flying over rivers, lakes, and snow-capped mountain ranges is worth the cost of my airline ticket. The sights of forestry and farmland patchwork rejuvenate the tired soul. This trip was no different.

Flying west in early evening left the pending sunset horizon ever present. The vivid colors slowly change into golden dusk and beautiful twilight. The horizon reflection of brilliant radiance is like no other. We soon became engulfed by surrounded darkness that highlights the smallest cluster of twinkling lights seen below. I wonder what life might be like for those who reside in such far off places. One can only imagine from this inspired view.

While we all suffered the effects of the pandemic; sadly, some suffered to greater loss than others. But our venture out of COVID-19 restrictions and a return to valued family time together is badly needed. May we all progress to newfound freedoms from the intense anxiety of Covid and discussions over vaccines with genuine gratefulness. How refreshing to return to common sense behavior, social interaction and loving community because they truly produce the environment we flourish in.

Time to unmask a better future and discard the dread of the past. We clearly could use some stabilizing balance in the craziness of times. Truly there is fresh dawn rising in the sky. “Carpe diem.” Writes Horace. Odes (I.11), published in 23 BCE.

Written by Judy Cline, May 2O21

Racial Tension: Rich Diversity: Dismissive, Combative, or Living as We Ought.

It was the early sixties when racial tensions in the south were hot and restless. I had not been exposed to such racial issues. My Idaho neighborhood all looked the same; brown heads, red heads and blondes. I had friends and family members from the Mexican community, but only knew one black family that lived in our small town. In my view, people were meant to get along. We did as far as I knew. Racial discrimination may have happened, but it was never a part of my small world.

On many train routes during the sixties dining cars were limited. Passenger trains had scheduled hour meal stops. Directions to few cafes were announced and available within a short radius of the station. It was before the growth of fast food chains so choices were limited. Passengers debarked for an hour lunch or dinner break. We became familiar with the routine on our long journey south. It was a new travel experience for this young Idaho girl: a north-south, cross-country train ride to San Antonio, Texas traveling with her mother.

As an innocent eleven-year-old, I witnessed my first experience of racial segregation. It happened in the only cafe we were directed to dine in at our train meal stop. He was the black uniformed GI, the quiet soldier who sat directly across the aisle from us, who was turned out of the cafe. I was in direct view of the angry owner’s eviction.

In total dismay, I rushed out of the cafe and ran after the young man. Shocked and crying, I asked what he wanted to eat; he politely dismissed it, but I insisted on bringing him something to eat.

I went back to my unsuspecting mom who was left wondering what just happened. It was then, at that shocking moment, I knew I had been deeply affected by skin color discrimination. I simply couldn’t understand it.

I tasted the humiliating pain of segregation. My eyes were opened to see the dismantling of human dignity. This full significance grew as I became an adult. ~ The suffering one goes through with Racial prejudice.

When we experience the pain of discrimination, we are confronted just how we choose to live. DO WE BECOME DISMISSIVE, COMBATIVE, OR DO WE STAND UP TO WHAT WE KNOW IS JUST AND RIGHT? WE WILL ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE.

This one childhood experience affected the many opportunities I took to embrace the better choice. It is amazing what one learns ~ life with other cultures. It changes our limited perspective and stretches us into a broader life experience throughout our life. We are not the only one who matters.

My enlargement grew with specific times as an adult. We had recently moved into the Washington DC area and we soon became acquainted with our neighbors. The husband was Nigerian and the wife from The Republic of Guyana, South America.

We were invited to a holiday party which we accepted. Upon arrival, we met dozens of their friends and work associates. The clear distinction was we were the only white couple there. That moment of awareness was when we experienced the reality of being the minority. Although we had a brief moment of awkwardness, we used it as a learning experience.

Perhaps the greatest gift I received in the process of embracing diversity is my enlargement of my own family. My two children have interracial marriages. I have four lovely Hispanic grandchildren and two West Indian black granddaughters. And recently, a foster African American granddaughter. I love the enrichment of diversity. I love my UN family.

We taught our children to accept people for who they were, not by the color of their skin. We continued our acceptance and building diverse friends. We accepted them into our home, eating at our table and sharing life with our family. I continue to make that choice today to expand my life experiences.

Maybe it is time to finally learn to shake ourselves from complacency. Loosen the tightness of our own family and establish friends and expand inclusion of others that are different. Share our rich human resources. It is amazing the creative ideas, the strengths, the compassion to influence we can give to one another for our mutual good.

It is a sad day of continual racial tragedies. If only we could lay aside our prejudged minds of racial issues. Let’s be part of the change so needed for reconciliation. Be intentional. Be generous in awareness, acceptance and love. Be involved in some way in community to heal our hearts and land.

Written by Judy Cline: revised from 7/2016

The Long and the Short of it.

Have you ever wondered like I have, why short term memories dissipate sharply beginning at sixty?  I am talking about the annoyance of frequently misplaced car keys and paperwork.  Factor in the amnesiac name recall and date relapse, and the reality of retirement is revealed.

More troubling is the ability to visualize objects when the ability to retrieve the object’s name is simple gone. Finally, as we struggle to retrieve the right word, we aim to take the blur out of our mind and reconnect back to our own conversation.  Its all about staying connected both with our own absent mind and the person we wish to communicate with at the moment.

Surely, I am not the only one who completes sentences without nouns.  The general rule is that a complete sentence needs a noun – a person, place, a thing.  But the sixty-plus age group seems to do quite well without them.  After all, completing one another’s sentences is simply part of retirement conversation. What’s the problem? Make it easy to understand and help fill in each other’s blanks.  It is not so important to have quick conversations, anyway. We can now afford to stretch things out.  Time and age allow it.

They say that as we age the hippocampus shrinks. (That’s the region of the brain involved in forming memories.) I reckon, as short term memories wane, the back of the mind shifts forward.  It is actually a change of mental positioning.  Simply put, short-term memories slide backwards and childhood memories move forward. What’s the problem?

We remember in flashes, not chronologically; that is why we forget dates so easily.  To correct the problem, just pick a day of the week. You know: “Now was it a Tuesday, or Wednesday?” Then answer your own question, internally, of course.  It’s the process of elimination. 

And, if you can not remember; oh well, “we just can’t remember.”

Family, friends from decades past visit our thoughts. Events from our past encroach often. Fun times, sad and painful ones become a concentration. Suddenly, with no apparent thought forming, we are there at a memorial event like the Junior Year Championship game. It’s the tie-breaking play of tension, cold-night air, fans roaring, drum beating. We used to call it day-dreaming.

Unexpectedly, the lyrics of the song danced with someone special at High School Homecoming, reminisce in our head – melody and misty-moments linger.

What a great transition after sixty. Life gets slower. Thoughts are deeper. We laugh more often at our weaknesses and appreciate our hard-won strengths. Relationships become more meaningful and material life takes a back seat to relaxation. Our common goal is to remain awake, active, and adjust ourselves to the new life we are living – simply aging with all its twists and turns.

Written by Judy Wolcott Cline/  January 18, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Life: A Future and a Hope

TRUE – my daughter, Angela, is a October baby. Lots of COLOR in her life – fun, vibrancy, creative passion for teaching, beautiful relationships with her friends and family. She always challenges those who know her, to reach high to achieve and live out their best. Love surrounds this woman with her influence for living God’s very highest purpose. What JOY she is to everyone!

Every life has a story and her beginnings are worth telling. Many of her friends and family may not know she almost died in my womb before her sudden C-section birth. She was caught in the trauma of preeclampsia, a condition of pregnancy which cruelly turns deadly upon a baby in the womb. It was a toxic fight for life for both mother and baby for sure. Perhaps, that is why she is a born warrior by nature; not only a survivor, but keen fighter for others, too.

The immense relief I experienced after twelve hours of unconscious silence. The nurse introduced our 5lb baby girl, our Angel, and laid her upon a pillow because I was too weak to hold her. That moment of victory changed our lives forever.

The fight was fierce to give birth which ended with a blood clot to my heart, an infarction. How does a previous healthy, young woman eager to be a new mother leave hospital as a 21-year old survivor of a heart attack? … Grateful to be alive, weak, but forever holding her most prized possession for her fight for motherhood.

Every year, like so many mothers, I relive the grateful joy of this October Birthday, and I fully understand that life is truly a gift. It doesn’t come without cost and sacrifice, but the years of watching her legacy develop is awe-inspiring.

Happy Birthday sweetheart! Continue your fight for justice, your advocacy for children, and your adventurous love for life. You have earned your wonderful influence in the lives of others. You are not one who walks on the air of entitlement, but instead continues to grow in the confidence of your God- given identity. The world needs strong compassionate women.

~ Written by a proud mother: Judy Wolcott Cline

Reminiscent Grief: New Beginnings

The turbulence:
As I stood on a beautiful Florida beach under the sky-blue and the warming sun, serene waves lapping behind me, little did I know my life would soon pivot into life-threatened turbulence; the greatest storm I would ever face.

It’s been over three years since life changed forever; but the days and months leading up to becoming a widow, were a turbulent emotional whiplash of upheaval.
One might describe it as a vortex of struggle which sinks you in a whirlwind of despair – yet finding air to breathe. It seems an accurate picture.

Clocks can not be set to end grief matters. The painful healing of a newly-grieving heart; 1) acceptance and realization of loss, 2) the process of letting go, 3) the turn of events to move one forward culminate to heal the space of loss in the storm of death. It is the reality we all must painfully face in the journey towards the healing heart.

Emotional Upheaval:
There were a wide range of emotions: moments of deep despair and then by miraculous intervention, a calming peace would be welcomed. When I felt myself sinking, faith reached up to touch heaven with prayer for help to simply survive. It was the strong sense of God’s power, stronger then the unending storm, which drew me to safety. It happened time and time again.

Our journey was a long illness that first launched us through gentle lapping water and quiet moments of renewal. There were small storms with treatment and healing.

Yet, our journey ended in that final thrust of sail through the narrow waters leading to the light of eternal shore.

And there we were: the final separation: life’s ending destination for every member in the human race: a release of suffering replaced by quiet peace.

The Painful Healing:
Communication with your loved one is perhaps the greatest lost of all – the sharing of ideas, the hearing laughter, the for-ever loss of voice is perhaps the most painful.

I remember well this particularly jarring reality. It was only days after my husband passed away after a long battle with cancer. . .

I had begun to work through the first tasks of practical changes and within days I decided to change from a flip phone to an iPhone. I needed to change his cell phone information to mine and a visit to the cell service store was needed.

It was a difficult acceptance: I never would hear his voice again – from that phone, or any other phone. It was a longing that only slowly dissipates with time.

I quietly spoke to the pleasant young man who helped me trying not to bring attention to my grief, but I was convinced my teary-eyes revealed my pain. Not far away was a man shopping too. I was uneasy, anxious whether my emotions would unravel in front of nearby shoppers. And they did some moments later when he spoke of his loss of spouse too.

How could two grieving spouses be facing this sad moment standing so near one another? I couldn’t look up in case there would be the awkward meeting of “knowing eyes.” That unforgettable moment seemed double the unbearable sadness.

It was far more intense than simply retrieving cell phone contact lists and changing my cell phone to his… I can only now analyze.

It was the jarring acceptance of the finality of separation. It was the beginning of separation anxiety for a voice I recognized, loved and longed for to return. It was the realization of the forever loss of our years of communication. A forever loss of closeness… Forever has no end.

It was having to say those very first painful words, “I just lost my husband.” The stark reality of being a widow pained immensely in that Verizon Service Center: I just wanted to run out the door and keep on running. I now know it is okay to feel such pain and yet survive.

Transitional effort:
The effort of the journey is real but the ultimate transition to new beginnings must come. Courage is found with needed moments of pause. It is our choice to stop and rest and recharge in the transition.

Overcoming obstacles are always part of the healing journey. Faith to overcome is the key to remaining positive in the process of growth. We can’t be passive in the process or we will be overwhelmed by difficulties. It helps when friends and family share in your journey.

Self Discovery
Perhaps the true measure of success comes in the ability to discover oneself while also learning to function day to day.

It is the reevaluation of priorities because transition is the shake up (shake-down) of importance: the earthquake of change never seems to stop in life. It is clearing the painful aftermath that is of importance and it takes time and brave strength to sort the rubble.

Functioning as a Single
Questions of how we functioned in the past, our change to fully function in the present and our need to reach beyond into the new future: these stark realities and many more are always being questioned.

Time passes and new beginnings appear and they are hardly recognizable. The acceptance of a new role becomes evident and life carries one forward. It is an unforgettable journey.

The pain of change becomes less because we simply become better at it,” said one fellow widow.

It certainly became easier for me as aloneness changed into new confidence and the process of good decision-making was renewed. One hopes.

And soon new beginnings appear on the horizon. The light travels quickly – as any new dawn unfolds and with it comes the renewed focus of new opportunities. Thankfully, we become fully alive again; free from the unending pain of grief to explore life with all its possibilities. With these changes comes new challenges and the desire to make life worth living fresh and new each day. A future lies before us. It finally comes as grief subsides.

Explore we must in the overall plan and cycle of life. It is all part of the substance of life’s journey. We learn to simply become better at recovering and redefining identity. Hopefully too, we learn the true meaning of fully living life well, full of calm delight.

Holding My Father’s Hand: Review of a Father’s Day Note 

One of my fondest memories of childhood is holding my Fathers hand. His was a unique hand – large and remarkable. An outdoor accident at three years old -a wood chopping chore turned tragic, had mistakenly caught my Father’s “pointy-finger” and took it completely off. This left a space gap between his thumb and his three remaining fingers. To me his three-fingered hand seemed normal-just right for me as a young child to grasp while crossing the street.

My father was a strong-sized man, tall and muscular from a lifetime of physical labor. He wore bib-overall work clothes Monday through Friday. They hung on a peg by the backdoor for an easy on in the morning and off again at the end of his work day. Those overalls represented his hard labor as a railroad man. After forty-five years, he stopped wearing them and retired from the Union Pacific Railroad. His example of perseverance and hard-work ethic was my role model of strength for life.

We were not particularly a “social family.” We mainly spent time at home. But we often sat together watching TV, or fun movies late at night. During winter we would eat popcorn or Halloween-sized candy bars. Our favorite was Butter Fingers. We could eat an entire package, unwrapping and nibbling the small bars, piece by piece while watching an old movie. This was our special time – he and I – sitting together. I loved to be with him holding his strong hands, eating our favorite treats and then holding hands again. It was his quiet strength I needed.

I was his fourth girl. he may have secretly wanted a boy, but I never felt any disappointment with my gender. He called me “Jimmy” when I was really young, but that didn’t last long. His presence reassured me of being well-loved and respected as his youngest daughter. He always told me how proud he was of me and my achievements growing up.

Dad played the piano as best he could with nine fingers. (I wonder how did he do it?) I remember some songs he beat out on the old piano on rare occasions. He sang nicely, but kept his voice hidden in public. He whistled instead; I often heard it coming from a remote part of the house. When he was tinkering in the basement he could really cut loose. I am not sure he cared we were listening from the kitchen or bedrooms. It brightened the day.
Stories were told of his musical family – three boys singing in the Vaudeville era. . I was told my deceased grandmother was a piano teacher. I wished I had known her.
I appreciated the freedom I had as a child. It was a fun childhood with freedom to explore, make many friends and discover my gifts and talents as well. Dad was there to answer my questions and sacrifice to give me opportunities to grow.
I married and he imparted those same qualities as a Grandfather to my two children. They loved him and experienced his support while growing into young adults. He took great pride in their gifts and talents as well. He loved all his grandchildren just the same. And they loved him.
He has been gone now nearly twenty years.We miss him but not only at Father’s Day. We remember him endearingly   throughout the seasons of our life. Most of his grandchildren have married and their children would love him dearly now.

We wish he could be here to pass his wisdom to this next generation. His was the kind of “worldly wisdom” given. He would speak his mind in every conversation. We loved him for his fairness and unconditional acceptance.

As an adult, I have found my Heavenly Father God to be a continual presence in my life – like my real father. LIfe’s happenings, no matter how difficult they may become, turns me to the heart of my Heavenly Abba Father for advice and strength. He reassures  me his presence is with me. Experiencing that truth brings me childlike freedom every day.

 

“Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found. . I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments,” says Psalm 119:35,45

A Mother’s Day Reflection:Mentoring Women: Nurturing Moms

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It is not exclusively the gift of child-bearing that we celebrate, but the nurturing of women we embrace. Not all women bear children but all women have qualities that when nourished are nurturing.
There are many women who contribute to the need of love and affirmation in the healthy development and care of lives. Not all of us are born with healthy nurturing mothers, or learn nurturing skills, but we all have needs to be loved and developed.

Today motherhood, the nurturing nature cherished in past generations, is often defamed because of a hardened push towards empowerment. Dishonor of gentleness must be resisted. It is a not so subtle exchange in the current environment for toughness and positional empowerment.

Perhaps  the celebration of Mother’s Day represent a reminder for balance and a return to some innate, softer emotional needs within us. 

I am grateful to receive many imparted gifts by wise and talented women in my life. There are many nurturing women – apart from my own mother who enriched my life.  But my mom nurtured and gave my sisters and I wise Godly counsel and imparted faith, self-worth and mentored confidence. It wasn’t a motivation to rule others, but a drive to be fully alive and to be successful in our choices. My life reflects her devotion to my childhood training. She will always be my most prized mentor, my own mother of honor.

Only days ago, I sadly loss a friend of more then forty years, she is one who describes best both a mentoring friend and nurturing mom. The many cups of tea consumed sitting in her English sitting room, are reminiscent of the genuine warmth of a nurturing woman. We had many refreshing times together with deeply emotional and spiritual connections. Our conversations shared the varied life experiences throughout the years. Together we knew the embrace of the heartache of loss and the joy of contented life.  We found renewing wells of faith in God, often by praying for one another.  I learned life is lived in contrast. It is far easier to share it with those that care.

Our friendship spanned over 40 years from my early marriage development through the shocking death of her only daughter, the recent death of my husband until the aging process peacefully, laid her to final rest. I will forever be grateful for her compassion and unconditional love to me and my family. She was truly a valuable women of honor.

Love abundance is not to be contained; she spilled out unconditional love to young women in pregnancy crisis and her teaching instruction to young children. She gave a natural impartation of acceptance, an affirmation to everyone in her presence – acquaintance and friends alike – young and old – and everyone left stronger and wiser. What a tribute trophy she is to all that is pleasing in womanhood. Someone who embraces, imparts and then sends forth to meet the challenge.

What qualities do we value in women the most? So many wander from those we have valued in the past. The qualities of mentoring, educating, affirming and developing young families is in need of reviving. The struggle to just breathe is the heavy load on modern women and they all need active life support.

It is a restless cry we see manifesting in reckless abandonment from true principles of a healthy society. Brokenness is crying for repair. It languishes desperate in abandonment. Woman can bring the needed care and inspire men to greatness.  That is why we must learn to nourish the wilting spirit.

Flowers are a timeless favorite during Mother’s Day. We all love to give and receive them. We may know a teacher, a nurse, or a great mother we want to honor. Celebrate not only the role but the qualities of the nurturing women.

It is good to remind ourselves growing love gets our hands dirty. It is less important the title of the gardener. What matters is the the basic knowledge and outcome of tending plants and pruning growth. Healthy roots produce beautiful fruit. They are life’s reward. Be grateful for others who have pruned and watered your own thirsty garden. Now turn and water those who need a little TLC around you. It will nourish your own soul as well.

Change:Unexpected Consequences

It was an epic day when my late husband announced with the shocking question,” I have a career offer in Europe to work for a minimum of eighteen months?” “What do you think?” It all seemed surprisingly impossible, but within six weeks our home and two cars sold and we were soon on our way.

All we knew of our changing future was that a military contract had been secured and a job promotion awaited for my husband. Where we would live and everything beyond was a BIG question mark? It turned out to be the best (nine-year) unexpected, career pathway and decision of our marriage.

Painful good byes were said to our family and friends. Finally, we turned away from our known life, and gathered our young daughter to boarded a flight. It was the beginning adventure to many happy life experiences and a home near Oxford, England.

Fast forward: our extended 9-year European stay ended and we returned to The States. After a three year career assignment in the Washington D C area, we faced another career and location move decision. This move took much more consideration, especially for the welfare of our now two children, one in High School, one in 4th grade. They weren’t so keen on “moving again?” It also meant leaving the security of a 17-year career with the same company.

We moved. We expected life to continue to prosper. But this transition turned disastrous as we started to settle into a promising job and another location. Without notice, my husband lost his position with a restructuring event in the new company, one that we later suspected being negotiated before he was even hired. It was a salary budget restructure.

Although we could not prove it, his salary was added in the yearly budget before he was hired, and then his position eliminated shortly afterwards with the salary cost padded into the restructure. It was something I would become more familiar with in my future career in Human Resources.

This rocked our new world. We were thrown into a new reality. It was a crippling series of unexpected, domino events that left us unemployed for the first time in our entire marriage; losing our house contract, homeless for a short while and shaken to the bitter core.

What makes two similar events of relocation, change life so unexpectedly, and result in such contrasted outcomes? It’s my question even to this day. One thing is certain; when faced with disappointing outcomes and shaken to the core, important decisions soon follow.

The toughest choice to settle is whether one is determined to accept life as it now is, regardless of the pending difficult outcomes. In our instance, because of unsuspecting betrayal, we needed this strong determination. How were we to work through the process of confusion of losses and learn our own personal lessons came next. Later, we had the choice to gradually be willing to let it all go; or remain stuck, wounded and bitter. It was a painful grieving process of losses and gains. It wasn’t easy.

The recovery process – to rebuild confidence in our decision-making abilities and deal with betrayal – taught us not to presume life will always be prosperous. It taught us to deal with life-altering disappointment and periods of brief depression. It warned us of our vulnerability and whether we would ever risk again.. We received wisdom to regain our equilibrium and walk through the many lessons learned. And more importantly, we turned in prayer and faith for unanswered questions in the process of recovery.

The late Mary Tyler Moore said it best: “Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” 

Certainly, we hope for the best outcomes in choices, but there are no guarantees we won’t fail, or face unknown challenges. Adversity builds bravery by hardening us to difficulties. It equips us to face other difficult circumstances in the future.

Unemployment is devastating to everyone who lives with the consequences. It immediately throws one into a power-punch of insecurity and fear. The knock-down effect is real and a knock-out punch may take even longer to recover. Standing confidently tall again, is a real gain.

Comparing all of life from our limited vantage point dims an accurate view of the real world. It takes growth and authenticity to see our blind spots and work to overcome them. Humility is a great teacher in this regard. It brings us to a bowing posture with the need to look outside of our self reliance.

How easily we accumulate judgements based solely by our limited experiences. How easy to make judgements on others when we have no idea their life journey. Adversity breaks down our willful pride and cautions us to be willing to look inside. Examining the chapters of our own story gives greater insight with the context of the story of others.

Empathy should transcend beyond our personal experience because of the very basis of its meaning. We become more patient especially when we connect with others and “walk a mile in their shoes.” If we allow it, compassion can be a positive outcome in the process of adversity.

Connective understanding gives space for growth in accepting different ideas, approaches to problem-solving and time for restructuring life. Empathy is beneficial to us all. It expands our understanding, stretching us beyond our limitations.

Life is not a test…Oh really?
Adversity is the university we all attend
It tests ideas of how life is
Restructures will and mind to bend.

Be more nimble with adventure
Not hold back because of fear
Tests will come to everyone
Keep looking forward, not the rear.

Attitudes and judgement hang-ups
Entangle us to hardened hearts.
ingrained judgements must be broken
Breakout from a prison dark.

As speed of change increases
Challenging ways of doing things.
Perhaps it is not so destructive
When we embrace the need to change.
Written by Judy Cline

 

 

Misplaced Hope: The Fall of Expectation

We are a nation, a people who have wrapped ourselves in labels of race, gender, life styles and social classes. Such labels are not comprehensive; they often cloak our true identity and lack any depth of realized character. Ultimately, authentic truth reveals the nakedness of the human soul.

When we build our hope on the infrastructure of systems, ( an ordered and comprehensive assemblage of facts, principles, doctrines, or the like in a particular field of knowledge or thought,) whether they be political, racial, gender or our self-elevated belief systems, our emotions run high. Judgements are made and often; reason is dangerously overruled.

We risk falling from a high rise of unrealistic expectations. People lifted to an unreasonable platform of idealism whether by beauty, talent, or gifting is always dangerous. This elevation lacks any real, authentic or lasting dignity.

The same with institutions we hold with undue importance. We soon find the scaffolding that holds our unreal expectation comes crashing down in disappointment because it can not bear the unbalanced load. We are left injured in the chaotic mayhem.

Perhaps one issue to consider is the hidden war within ourselves. Often we are at war within ourselves and we may blame others in our battles. For instance, replacement, or blame of government to soothe our emotional injuries, to calm our fears, to use as an endorsement for our way of thinking, has its dangers. When we look to government to approve and legitimatize ideology or social concerns, it rarely ever holds us secure in the long run.

We never rise to the level of our full and greatest potential when we become overly dependent on people: place: things. Misplaced hope crashes down in the ultimate giving of such power to man. He/she/they will always fail in some aspects to meet our expectations.

Disillusionment ultimately happens: we are left bleeding when institutions collapse before our eyes, leaving us hopeless in our great aspirations of personal gain. How will we survive without our false security holding us up in a world that crashes down? Total rejection of the type of system/ institution seems the only way to heal our wounds.

Entrusted hope is painfully buried, crumbled with each angry disappointment. This scenario is the legitimate view of many with the outcome of the election ~ the ushering in of a flood of unbearable consequences. It is the view life itself will end in the process of this collapse and a way of escape is urgently needed.

Perhaps we need to evaluate the importance we place in government and the power we give to leadership to run it. Institutions such as government, are meant to help equip us to lead free and productive lives.

But rather, it often becomes a misplaced importance in life. We dangerously surrender to its magnitude. Our surrender to this elevation, to a type of idolatry, leads to loyalty to a political system without questioning the balance of facts and truth and demanding personal accountability. A free fall is bound to happen.

Such devotion shackles us to blindness and ultimately to deception. No one is exempt from wearing rose-colored glasses. Fair-mindedness, intellectual research, critical thinking and personal responsibility are laid aside for a type of political religion instead of the true worship of God. Power to rule, rather than delegated authority to lead and serve ultimately takes over.

We are forewarned of a real war within ourselves when “evil becomes good and good evil.” It is the battle of all ages. The switch from a God inspired identity of life to find purpose and meaning is disregarded; and instead, we accept an entirely trendy, post modern ideal of individualism when absolutes of truth are rejected and new standards of amorality are established by the powerful. Man is replaced as God to determine what is right and wrong.

What now is stressed is the individual’s unique position: a self-determining agent responsible for the authenticity of his or her choices.
This is the norm of exitistentialism.

The ultimate battle of our soul is rooted in the replacement of God. It happens by the slow increase of importance we give to such priorities as intellect, education, government, entertainment; or the pursuit of gaining status, money and power.

Life is soon filled with our elevated choice and privileges, our own pursuits of needs and pleasures; priorities of others, or people not so enlightened, are therefore discarded and disdained. The ugly shame/blame occurs and polarization, the gulf of division, grows wider. It is the clutch of recent reality.

Have we lost our focus? The desire to seek after a life of inspiration, of generosity; as well as opportunity, which has always been important to the American dream. It is time for a reset , if this focus is to survive.

In our past, we chose to make life better, not solely for our personal family and interests but also extended care for the down-trodden and needy. We strived to help lift up one another, to make our communities stronger and safer for all families. Will that end in our selfish ambition to gain more money and power. I hope not.

Faith finds the source for the most important and peaceful means of power.
The untapped love and power to do good in all of us is what needs to be transferred to our hurting world, not the transfer of power from us into the hands of government to do good.

Will we look to a failing government to supply our security, or support our affirmation of identity? Will it be to continue our own selfishness, our views and opinions duly stated, or God’s grace to awaken us to new possibilities? We are so ready for heart discovery; but will we pause in reflection and make needed changes, or selfishly respond to live the same? Let’s pray not.

A great awakening is coming. Let it be a spiritual one ~ a call to reset new priorities, generosity and motivational love in action. This higher purpose is what America is called to fulfill.

Photo courtesy:Hector Moro

 

 

 

 

Grief:Generosity:The Spirit of Christmas

We all grieve at times during the Christmas season because of separation from friends, or loss of family loved ones. It seems more intense during this season of nostalgia. Often it results in altering personal holiday traditions; or sometimes, they are simply ignored in grief and lost forever.

Honoring celebrations are an important way of healing. We can all help reduce the pain by reaching out and giving what matters most…acceptance, love and friendship!

My friend Susan wrote an excerpt of her help as a caregiver that is inspirational:

“I work for Home Instead Senior Care as a Care Giver in St. Augustine FL. Two of my clients are so very opposite yet similar. Both have lost their loved one. Mr.T’s wife died 12 years ago and he can’t quite get over it. I have tried to “Christmasfy” his house and he said “No, just can’t do it.” Then one day I noticed he was playing Christmas songs on his computer….next day a wooden Rudolf is peaking out of his bushes…the following day 2 beautiful wreaths of red berries were hanging on the garage door lights on both sides. I said how pretty it looked and he replied, “It does look nice doesn’t it”. He is legally blind.

The other one, Miss M’s husband died and she said he was a Christmas junkie. When she spoke of him she sounded so sad and she said Christmas depressed her. I simply told her that maybe she could think of Christmas as a dedication to her deceased husband. As we decorated the tree, which was the first tree in 3 years in that house, she said “This one is for you Mr. P” Tears came to my eyes.

Now her house is decorated beautifully with bits of old and new pieces for Christmas. We have started to make ginger cookies and look through the cook books every day now. She even has lights outside of her house. She could not wait for her daughter to see what “we” did. She totally has pride in all we do and have done. She has Dementia, and everyday it is a new experience.

I guess what I am trying to say is let them mourn their loved ones but try to turn it into something good. I am just as thrilled to see them every time I go to their house as they are to see me walk through the door. A good hug can last for 3 days! Merry Christmas ~ and a healthy New Year!

Hospitality displays an open gate of welcome, it is a greeting, it extends a warm and inviting heart. It is an act of sharing our love and traditions.

The joy of Christmas: add the fun of family and friends to share in holiday activities, and it is all that is needed to make this season and every tradition, a remembrance of love and understanding.

Let this year be one of reaching out – if not by sharing in personal tradition, let it be by generosity – the generosity of spirit that is so needed in our broken and weary world.

There are many needs around us. Lend a helping hand, share a smile of acknowledgment, or give a needed hug. We all need to give. We also need to receive. It often is the small acts of random kindness that keeps our lives balanced and renews hope.

Generosity softens the hardness of life. It generates acts of love and extends our selves to others. It heals us, those discouraged and the broken-hearted. It empowers us to care for one another during the worst periods in loss.

What matters most is we all have the power to give. Love restores the grieving to life-giving strength. We all need strength to face the demands of unknown tomorrows. The outcome of generosity is the giving of hope, hope for a better future, hope to find peace and love.

The Christmas message has always been about giving. “God so loved the World that He GAVE his only begotten son.” His gift to the world has changed lives and guided believers for generations. Jesus has always been about giving life, imparting a life-giving relationship of acceptance, love and eternal hope. True Christian faith displays all that and more.

Let us not only learn to give more generously of ourselves, but also learn to receive the generosity of others. It may be that needed special hug that lasts for three days!