Joy to the world for Love has come. Let us rejoice and open our hearts to receive it. Come, Lord Jesus, fill our hearts with your love so that we can pass it on.
The Transforming Joy of Christmas is the perfect Love for all of us, that came as a vulnerable human baby. A life that not only offers us the unconditional love that can set us free to grow from needing to loving, but also gives us illustrated instructions on how to do it.
My favorite Christmas Picture with permission of the artist, Morgan Weistling
Licensed by the Greenwich Workshop, Inc.
When things fall apart and we can’t get the pieces back together, when we lose something dear to us, when the whole thing is just not working and we don’t know what to do, this is the time when the natural warmth of tenderness, the warmth of empathy and kindness, are just waiting to be uncovered, just waiting to be embraced. This is our chance to come out of our self-protecting bubble and to realize that we are never alone. This is our chance to finally understand that wherever we go, everyone we meet is essentially just like us. Our own suffering, if we turn toward it, can open us to a loving relationship with the world. ~Pema Chodron
From the blog: Make Believe Boutique
A quote by Tara Brach from the blog: Make Believe Boutique
You might ask yourself: “Can I imagine what it would be like, in this moment, to have a heart that is ready for anything?”
If our hearts are ready for anything, we can open to our inevitable losses and to the depths of our sorrow. We can grieve our lost loves, our lost youth, our lost health, our lost capacities. This is part of our humanness, part of the expression of our love for life. As we bring a courageous presence to the truth of loss, we stay available to the immeasurable ways that love springs forth in our life.
If our hearts are ready for anything, we will spontaneously reach out when others are hurting. Living in an ethical way can attune us to the pain and needs of others, but when our hearts are open and awake, we care instinctively. This caring is unconditional—it extends outward and inward wherever there is fear and suffering.
If our hearts are ready for anything, we are free to be ourselves. There’s room for the wildness of our animal selves, for passion and play. There’s room for our human selves, for intimacy and understanding, and for creativity and productivity. There’s room for spirit and for the light of awareness to suffuse our moments. The Tibetans describe this confidence to be who we are as “the lion’s roar.”
If our hearts are ready for anything, we are touched by the beauty and poetry and mystery that fill our world.
With an undefended heart, we can fall in love with life over and over every day. We can become children of wonder, grateful to be walking on earth, grateful to belong with each other and to all of creation. We can find our true refuge in every moment, in every breath. Tara Brach
The gift of learning to love unconditionally.
The gift of recognizing that life is not about competition, but about becoming the person we alone were created to be.
The gift of wanting others to succeed in their own journey.
The gift of awesome joy over small, but difficult, accomplishments.
The gift of the present moment.
The gift of freedom from living for image or others’ opinions.
The gift of your own best self being called forth.
The gift of patience.
The gift of tenderness toward all those who are vulnerable.
The gift of humane values.
The gift of courage.
The gift of seeing beauty in those different from you.
Every person who has not been blessed with loving a handicapped person, needs to attend a Special Olympics to experience these gifts.
The moment of insight for me was when one of the children fell
down in his race and the other runners turned back to help him up.
And every child was thrilled at finishing their race, even if they were the last to come across the finishing line.
And every parent cheered for all the children, not just their own.
The greatest blessing is learning that life is ultimately not about winning, but about loving.
Words have such different meaning for each of us. I’m not very comfortable with “saved.” For one, it sounds like I’m finished, so why am I stuck here? For two, it sounds like now I belong to the in crowd, instead of the rest of the human race. I never was much on being with the in crowd, because it seemed to require trading my individuality for a false sense of pride or security.
To me the message of Jesus was: Humanity is loved unconditionally. Loved unconditionally means you are of eternal value…..it is not a short term thing.
If I’m loved unconditionally, then why wouldn’t I just do whatever I feel like doing?
Because once I experienced that kind of love that is beyond human understanding, it changed everything. Nothing else comes close to that joy….no pleasure, no fame, no drug, not even a parent or spouse’s love. Life is about learning and growing, but particularly it’s about being emptied so we can be totally filled, full to bursting with the joy of that love.
Whether I am a thimble, a tea cup, or an ocean won’t matter, because I will be full.
We learn to love, when we discover that we are not only loved, but that we are of eternal value, so we aren’t limited to a life span. We don’t have to grab all the toys, pleasures, friends, fame, success we can in our limited time on earth. They are here to enjoy, but they are only snacks, not the main course. They are the junk food of life……and though on any given day, in our humanness they may help us temporarily get through a scary place, if we don’t regroup and once again turn to that Love Beyond Understanding, that we call God, we become addicted and make them our whole diet and then there is no room for the joy of love.
Loving others, not just as we love ourselves, but as Jesus loved us, is what makes room for joy. It involves letting go of the bling, of the snacks, so we can be filled with the joy of loving.
I don’t think we can love someone we need. If we need them to be a certain way and they can’t, what happens then?
If we are weak, we are needy. Weak is not being afraid, but being controlled by our fear of pain or suffering. There are a million addictions, probably a hundred per person, that we use to blot out pain, whether the small and shallow or the overwhelming and deep.
But to be controlled by fear of pain means never risking loving someone, because love doesn’t fear not being loved, it fears hurting with the one we love, when we are helpless in the face of their pain. Love increases our vulnerability a hundred fold. Love means letting our fortress walls fall to ruin because it is not the enemy they keep out, it is love itself, the caring more about another than protecting our tender inner self.
A women’s group at my church, known as The Doves, is having a Scripture based class on Conflict Resolution. Several people have stopped coming to our church because someone hurt their feelings, sometimes even just because someone seemed to ignore them. But when I invited them to the class, they said they didn’t have any conflicts to resolve.
In the past avoidance was one of my favorite ways of escaping conflict. I have shared before about getting my feelings hurt, then just cutting people out of my life, and even letting them die before ever resolving or reconciling. These people didn’t even know they had hurt me, because it was unintentional. With age I have gained a new perspective on many things, and I deeply regret abandoning these friends.
During the first gathering of the new class, a lot of unresolved hurt came out, even with each other in the class. But almost no one spoke in anger or in judgment. We simply admitted our feelings of hurt and listened when people explained a situation from another viewpoint or when someone pointed out the good in the offending person.
No one is perfect and we all bump into each other. Most times when we get seriously offended, it is because the other person has unwittingly blundered into an area where we feel particularly vulnerable.
Some people deal with the world mostly through logic and fact. And often are unaware of their own or others’ feelings. Since truth is their highest value, they do not automatically understand the effect it might have on another person’s feelings.
On the other hand, many of us simply see the world through our feeling values and respond to it straight from our feelings. Often, we have great difficulty working through them to logic.
For those whose values are truth, fact, and logic, even ordinary everyday conversations with feeling types are like exploring a minefield without a map.
Learning either how to say the truth tactfully, or when it might be more diplomatic to not say anything, is a serious challenge for them.
For those of us who live in our feelings, it helps to become aware of areas of insecurity and try to become free of them, and failing that, to learn to risk telling others how what they said made us feel. At least in a long term relationship, this will give the truth and logic partners a map of the minefield!
I have a friend who told me that when she was about six or seven, there was a rich little girl who came to their Sunday School in fancy clothes and white Mary Jane shoes. My friend was jealous of the little girl and took advantage of every chance she got, to scuff the bottom of her shoe across the pure white top of her Mary Jane shoes.
Sometimes, we really consciously mean to hurt others, but most of the time it is either inadvertent or an unconscious response.
I discovered late in life that I quite often scuff people’s Mary Janes in more subtle and less conscious ways, but it still leaves people feeling diminished. Most times before the last decade or so, I was not conscious of it, and sometimes the victims didn’t even know exactly what made them feel scuffed.
For conflict resolution to become an effective tool, it first takes commitment on everyone’s part and a willingness to become self-aware, even uncomfortably so.
Our group cares about each other and most of us have learned to love even the people we don’t always like. But still it’s a scary venture into our dark sides.
Prayer and knowing we are loved unconditionally, at least by God, will hopefully give us the grace to learn to use this tool for peace. All prayer for grace for us is greatly appreciated.