Sunday, August 30, 2009

Be Love





There are times when the serendipity of Life just blows me over.

Today, I had the great pleasure of preaching at my friend Will's church. The theme for today's service was, "Be Love." The sermon spoke of how we are all called to Be Love in whatever manner we can. The sermon was well received, leaving me with a feeling of content accomplishment.

Arriving home, I sat down to check what emails had come in over the past two days while I was gone. My eyes were immediately drawn to an email that seemed to stand out like a beacon of Light from the screen. My friend, Maithri, had written about the new non-profit organization he has started for the people in Swaziland.

As I read his note and then traveled to the new website for Possible Dreams International (PDI), my heart filled with such joy. Here was an example of what I had been trying to share with the congregation at my friend's church. Maithri and the people who work with him, are all the personification of Love.

Their ability to see God's Light in all they meet, accepting them as they are, is what unconditional Love is all about.

I have been honored to be an ambassador for PDI. It is my goal to help in whatever way presents itself to me. The first idea I had was to hold a coffeehouse at our church to raise money for PDI as well as awareness of the situation in Swaziland. It is now in the planning stages. But, I felt the need to do something more immediate, thus, this posting.

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Swaziland has been forgotten by most of the world. Many people believe it is not worth saving. Thankfully, there are those who believe we can be the change we want to see in the world and that it starts in Swaziland.

Let me give you a little picture of what it is like to live in a country where HIV/AIDS has infected 42% of the population.

Entire villages have been decimated. All sexually active adults are either dead or dying. This leaves the children and the elderly. It is the grandmothers who are now raising the children left behind. In Swaziland, they are called Gogo. The Gogos are often left with all their grandchildren to raise, without money, without housing, without medical care. PDI hopes to change this.

The following is a video entitled A Gogo's Prayer.





I dream of someday going to Swaziland to work along side the living embodiments of Love who already share their lives with our brothers and sisters there. To hold the hands of the Gogos who have given everything they have to the children will be the greatest blessing of my life.

The following video is from the PDI website. It shows what happens when we dare to dream the impossible dream.



By the way, the beautiful voice in this video was none other than Dr. Maithri Goonetilleke. He is a man of many talents and gifts, all of which he gives so freely.

Be Love! If you feel called to do so, please consider supporting PDI in whatever way you can. Remember, simply sharing this information with others is helping. It brings awareness of the conditions which our brothers and sisters in Swaziland live with every day!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mending Wall



When I was young, my mother would read Robert Frost's poetry to me as a treat. I always loved the pictures his words created in my mind.

One of my favorite poems was, Mending Wall. On the surface, it is a story of how each spring the writer goes and mends the rock walls that have been toppled by the frost heaves of winter. However, the deeper meaning speaks to the reader of how we wall ourselves off from others, keeping people at bay so that they do not learn too much about us.



I always felt sad when the neighbor in the poem says, "Good fences make good neighbors." It is clear that he is not interested in "how" the wall toppled, only that it be repaired as quickly and efficiently as possible. The writer on the other hand seems to enjoy musing on the various possibilities of the deconstruction...elves were always my choice!


On a recent trip to South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, I took pictures of some of the rock walls which make up this community's boundaries. They are beautiful, strong, and for me, do inspire the fancies to search for elves and fairies.




Sunday, August 16, 2009

Moved at the movies


Every once in a while, I am pleasantly surprised by a movie. Of late, there have been several which have just made me feel good, gave me something to think about and/or touched my heart in a way that I had not anticipated.

The Soloist was a delightful surprise. Learning the premise of the movie...journalist finds homeless man and helps him out...I had my doubts that this was going to really touch on the issues behind homelessness. I was wrong, it gave an honest portrayal of homelessness as well as mental illness.

In addition, if you get the DVD of this movie, I recommend watching the "Extras." There are several interviews with the actual people that inspired the movie. It is well worth the time taken to view these, also.





As many of you may have already guessed, I am a hopeless romantic. That being said, I find it hard to get excited about most of the "love stories" out there in movie land. However, on occasion, I am left grinning from ear to ear in romantic bliss.

Recently, Roger and I saw Vodka Lemon. It is the story of a penniless couple in Armenia (post-Soviet Union) and the events that lead to their finding each other.

This movie is shot on location in the most barren landscape I have seen in a long time. Landlocked by mountains, the location of this film resembles a desert, only instead of sand, there is snow. Sounds bleak, yet, the joy...the bliss of this little tale will make you smile and lighten your soul.





The last gem of a film I would like to recommend is Blackboards. This movie should be a "must see" for every teacher and every one thinking of becoming a teacher.

We are constantly being deluged with stories of how difficult it is to teach, how awful schools are, how we need to test teachers, test students and test anyone else related to schools. We have seen and heard of schools losing accreditation because students cannot pass the standardized testing put into place by the past administration. We tisk, tisk and scratch our heads wondering what will become of the world, wondering what to do with all the children that have been left behind in a country that could easily educate all their students on the profits made by big business and through endowments.

Meanwhile, in a land where people still live daily in conditions of abject poverty, where homes and roads and towns appear to have been frozen in time some thousand years or more, and where bombs, war, and greed have taken what little life exists, teachers literally walk hundreds of miles to teach with their blackboards on their backs.

Blackboards is a testament to the tenacious spirit of educators who see it as their life to teach. It is a movie about hope.






Saturday, August 8, 2009

Facing Loss


Since my last post, I have had numerous encounters with friends and family suffering from various types of loss. It occurred to me that my post on grief might be continued or expanded at this time to cover what is "loss" and why do we grieve.

Loss is, according to the dictionary, "fact of losing or state of having been lost; that which is lost; defeat."

Perhaps it is my "cup-half-full" philosophy, but I see loss as more of a catalyst for change, than a defeat. Let me explain...

Within the past few years, three of my immediate family died. (My Mom, Dad and Brother) The loss of these family members has been the catalyst for awareness of how precious our time together is for many members of my family, including myself. Since these deaths, my relationship with a surviving brother and sister-in-law and several of my cousins has become closer.

It reminds me of the old Carter Family hymn, "Will the Circle be Unbroken," which talks about how difficult it is to say goodbye to a loved one, yet, there is the hope, the belief that something better awaits us.



One thing is important to understand. Loss is not simply about death.

Over a year ago, I "lost" my job. I was unemployed for six months. I was sick physically, mentally and emotionally. However, some of the best writing I have ever done, happened during this time of change. "Loosing" my job gave me time to look inward, finding words that when placed together created poetry that was powerful and insightful. My loss was also my gain!

Think about it, we loose friends when we leave a school, move to another town, or change jobs, but we soon find others. We loose family and friends when relationships breakup, even when the breakup is amiable, but those that remain close usually become closer, still. We loose our homes through foreclosures, or due to changes in employment, or because we have grown up, starting our own lives. While this can be devastating, it can also bring us to a new place with endless new possibilities. We loose our health as we get older, as well as our hair, our muscle tone, our hearing and/or eyesight. Loss is simply a part of life. However, if we stay open to possibility, we can grow in our wisdom, learning to share it with others without becoming demanding. In addition, by allowing others to help us through this time, we give them the gift of accepting their assistance which helps the giver become more compassionate and understanding. It is a win/win situation.

Once we realize that change is the only constant in life, we can begin to see loss as an ally instead of an enemy. We can begin to grieve in a healthy way with understanding of the process. ***Big note here: Grief Is A Process!***

Therefore, while Webster may define loss as a defeat, I will continue to see it as a catalyst for change. I will continue to strive to make the change as positive as possible. It is the only way I can continue down the Path, head held high with a song in my heart. The circle will be unbroken!