Where do we have control? The past is a series of memories, echoing stories in tainted voices. In the past, we lay down with questions that can never produce answers. In the past, we try to resurrect life from a pool that no longer exist – it is completely dissolved. The future is unseen, impossible to predict. We claim that we can prepare for the future, but we simply are just not that powerful. The future is not a clear story with complete endings to tell. The past is uncontrollable. And so is the future. Yet we try to leap between these two worlds, attempting repeatedly to control their fables. Only to lose our peace within. Now the present moment is quite different. The present moment is clean. It is void of predications or memories seeping in. The present moment is pure. It is right here pulsating with just a single breath. The present moment has no story to tell. It just is. And when we can close our eyes and breathe with it, acknowledging we are O.K, agreeing that there really is very little we must fear, very little we must be forced to feel – then we are granting ourselves Grace. You let everything be good in just this moment – only this moment. That is all Grace needs – one moment.
When I was a little girl, my mama was a single mother, so every summer she would take me to my Memaw’s house in the deep county to stay while she went back home to work. There was not much to do but shuck butterbeans, read the comics or play in the dirt. There wasn’t even a grocery store nearby. My Memaw was a simple kind of woman and looking back I guess I could call her a true yogi. Every night, after she put rollers in her hair and wrapped the curlers with toilet paper, she would have me sit with her at her rocking chair. She would start off by simply saying “Shhhhhh, listen.” She would close her eyes, so of course I would then close mine. She would then begin. “Everything is O.K right here. You are O.K, I am O.k, Papa Ray is sleeping. The puppies’ bellies are full. The house is still standing. Coffee is ready to be brewed in the morning and the flour is out ready for us to make biscuits. I am healthy. You are healthy. Everything right now is more than O.k.” She would then leave a space of no words, urging me to just sit and feel this for a moment. I can remember feeling perfectly safe, almost perfect. Even now as an adult I perform this little ritual. I lay in bed and review. The man I love is right here. My children are all in their beds safe and loved. The puppies are fed and the house is still standing. The coffee maker is ready for the morning and I guess if I want biscuits I can always drive to Cracker Barrel. I sit with that warmth and let it cradle me for as long as I can. This moment of Grace is where I feel most safe. Even if it is for a fleeting moment, why would I not let myself have this pure honest moment of peace. I invite you to try this tonight. Start with the “Shhhhhh.” It helps quiet the voices of past and future. Close your eyes. And let yourself hold Grace.
Simply Humble and Kind
My daughter is one of the most amazing people I know. I know, I know……so many parents feel this way – thank goodness for that. I just want to take a moment to acknowledge why I am humbled to know mine. Mainly because she is a person I feel privileged to know. At the mere age of 14, I honestly believe she has mastered all that she needs to know. She has met the Dalai Lama, sat with a few Swamis, was raised in a yoga studio, and has witnessed and personally experienced a few tragedies too. The experiences are not what has made her amazing, it was that she listened and paid attention to the simplest messages that kept repeating. And from those lessons she developed her character into being a kind and simple soul.
There really is just one simple thing we need to master in life and that is to be humble and kind. That really is it. It is that simple. If all we ever learn is to be kind to all, including ourselves. To give more than we ever take. To be cautious of any act that could lead to pain to anyone else. To avoid trespasses upon others. To have more hope than ever despair. To believe in a higher power. To close our lips if we are going to speak with hurtful words, but open our lips every chance we get to speak words of encouragement or love. To judge no one based on color or creed. To be compassionate to those in pain and give to those truly in need. To offer hugs and support. To be a believer in good and cautious of any action that leads to bad. It is really that simple. If all we ever learn is to be humble and kind, wouldn’t this be all we should ever need to know? It is not about our grand purpose or how many achievement awards we can collect. It is not about chasing the perfect dream, landing the perfect job or even mate. It is not about our possessions or even how well we do on our standardized measurement tests of success. I believe grades in school really are just lines on a piece of paper – they in no way can measure the character of who you are.
If all we do is wake each day responsible for who we are. Responsible for how we behave. If we take seriousness in the creation of our character development – and only our own character – we are doing more than enough in this world. We will be able to ignore trespasses done upon us, because it was not our character who chose that. We will be able to forgive irresponsible words, because it was not our words that were spoken. We will be able to feel pity for those who lied, stole or cheated – because we know they cannot feel comfort in who they are becoming. We will be able to rest our heads at night knowing we did no wrong to others, only offered what hope or love we could share. Choosing to keep a humbled and kind character is peace and isn’t peace everything?
Now our character will be tested daily with challenging experiences and even people who do not display the same dedication. We will be presented with displays on how to behave, as well as dramas showing us how we should never behave. We will remember people who made us feel small, insignificant or dirty and bad, and we will remember people who allowed us to feel great in their presence, valued and proud. And when we decide we will be the person who chooses developing personal character worth instead of behaving with no thought of others but ourselves, we will take pride in becoming the person who is mindful of other’s – ensuring we place value on family, friends and even the span of human kind. If we choose to keep our character pure and kind, even when tested, we will be able to lay our heads at night with true peace and calmness of heart. When we stay true to being humble and kind – we receive the gift of peace. It is that simple. We choose right over wrong, we don’t cheat, lie or steal, we say thank you and remember to always say I love you. We hold our tongues with words of pain and unleash them with words that add peace and love. We value the goodness in our soul and the goodness in others. We stay away from trespasses and move towards graciousness. If this is all we ever learn, this really is all we shall ever need to know. Everything else is for show.