A single step…

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao-tzu

This is how God designed it…too often in life, we sit around waiting for the profound arrival of a significant blessing in our lives, expecting fireworks, birds chirping, symphonies playing, and our opportunities presented on a silver platter wrapped in a big, red bow. So when it arrives in the form of an out of the blue phone call from someone presenting a seemingly simple and unrelated opportunity, or a chance encounter from someone out of the blue, we are too busy looking past it for our grand parade…

We then sit around asking God and life why He isn’t listening or doesn’t care. More often than not, things will show up silently and unexpectedly in the form of one simple step.  It may seem innocent, or it may require bold faith, but in either case, it will require the understanding that as we move to take each small step, the next steps will continue to be revealed like clues in a treasure hunt. This not only makes life fun and interesting, but it also protects us from shying away from our blessings in fear. God desires to bring our hopes and dreams to pass for He is the one that placed them there. However, His plan is bigger and better than anything we could ask for, and revealing it all at once would confound us. Just as with everything else in life, we must grow, learning one step at a time, perfecting each step.

Had I have known from the first day that I would be where I am at this moment, I would have ran away in fear….I stand today in gratitude for I wouldn’t change a single moment or aspect of my current reality and journey. I know abundant joy, love, and adventure. Stay open, anticipate, and continue–one step at a time.

Ghost

If that day comes when you cannot see yourself, hear yourself, feel yourself, except as a ghost…do not begin to dig up the bones, frantically clawing through the dirt, searching behind every corner in every place where you once existed…let your non existense exist. Panic will only cause yourself to further elude you. Action will only drive yourself farther away. Fear will only magnify a situation which cannot be defined. With every death, life is borne. It may be for the best that you have become a ghost. Your heartbeat promises an opportunity to begin again, anew, when you are ready, when you have mourned your death, let go of the past, and have the courage to seize and create your future. When you have the wisdom to assess if any partial possession from the ashes should be salvaged, or merely let go with the ruins…This day may never come, come once, or come often…If it does, be a silent spectator at your own funeral, and then when ready, begin again. If it does not, stay ahead of death, cheat it, live life fully and authentically, being true only to yourself…for you are the one constant part of your life.

Goodbyes and Endings…Beginnings and Inbetweens…

Life has its own agenda, the incoming and outgoing of the waves. We sit on the beach building castles in the sand. Our fortresses comprised of our hopes and dreams, expectations and aspirations. In the moment when we gaze to the sky, daydreaming of our realities, or what we perceive them to be, we return our gaze to find all that we knew, or believed to be, in total devastation, heartbreaking destruction. Who are we to stop the tide? No foresight could have avoided the inevitability…no avoidance could have spared the sadness, the feeling of loss, of betrayal, of desertion.

Such is life…We walk along believing that we understand or have it figured out, only to realize that it can all change in an instant. The bottom can fall out, lambs can become lions, winter becomes spring. There are times when nothing that we can do will change the fact that our lives are becoming forever altered. When those we thought we knew like the lines on our palm will dissolve into a shattered reflection. When we are left standing in the ashes of all that we knew. It is in those moments when we can chase our tails trying to glue back the pieces into what once was, or we can rise and begin anew from where we currently stand taking with us the strength of fortitude, the blessing to begin again, to choose wiser and different. Goodbyes Endings Beginnings Inbetween. All precious, all with purpose, all unavoidable, all necessary.

Rebirth

In life, everything is cyclical. There is no night without a morning, no birth without death. Loss eventually finds triumph. We die to who we are so that we might become who we would be. We are not defined by our circumstances nor limited by our expectations. We could die a thousand deaths in one day to awaken to a new sun, new life, new possibilities. It is we who keep alive the struggle, the disappointments, the heartbreaks. For we forget to lay them down at the feet of the moon. It would do us well to relinquish our pains with the setting of the sun, and to awaken like a hopeful child on Christmas morning with a thousand hopes clenched in our fists, and the world at our feet.

No matter how hopeless one feels, there is always hope, it is a part of our existence just as it is the foundation of our journey. Especially to those fortunate enough to live in our country. Amidst the most dire circumstances, we still have the blessing and possibility to go from zero to hero in moments without a cap on our possibilities. In one swoop, we can always find someone who has it worse as well as someone whose footsteps we would give anything to traverse. This assigns us humility and hopeful anticipation, motivation, inspiration. Our nation, as well as many of us as individuals are in a scary place, but in quiet moments, I find excitement. It always takes the death of something ordinary to release something extraordinary. I foresee us exiting the struggle with more depth, more appreciation, more humility and compassion. I foresee power and grace.

There is always rebirth after a storm.

Unseen

Too often in life we miss the beauty of who someone is because we are too focused on what we want from them, who we want or need them to be, the dreams we hang on their existence. We look past them to our expectations, our desires and hidden agendas. We forget or fail to recognize that they have needs, that they have value. We miss out on arguably one of the greatest and richest gifts of life. The opportunity to get to know another, to see them, to witness their journey. It could be a fleeting moment or a lifetime…we can sit face to face and walk in step with another while missing out on who they really are or what they truly feel. We can encourage them to open up, and when they do, we do not hear a word. We miss out on what they are saying because we are too busy interpreting it from the place of a past experience, from a place of fear, or busy in our minds trying to relate it to how they can help us, or how it relates to what we want from them. We may miss out on the gift their presence was meant to be because we were too busy trying to make them the gift we wanted or thought they should be. Sometimes we fail to step outside of ourselves and realize that we were meant to be the gift that in that moment they needed.

Ralph Ellison eloquently depicts a sadness difficult to communicate in “The Invisible Man” when he writes: “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me…When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination—indeed, everything and anything except me.” Lets do our part to witness one another, and to let others be a witness to ourselves.

Respect

Respect is giving someone the space and the room to make their own decisions. It means allowing them to grow through the struggle so that they can improve their hustle. It means believing in them enough to allow them to take the direction that feels right for them for what we say can have a tremendous effect on what they do. We must cast aside our own judgements and fears, and allow them the blessing to live on their terms from their wisdom. Until we have traversed the path of another, stumbled over their stones, fallen into their ditches, felt the sun on our backs and the wind on our face, maneuvered our way to new roads and paths, we cannot speak for them. Until we have fallen, risen and trekked the path they are on, we cannot predict what could happen. We cannot foresee the victories and challenges that lie ahead. It is not for us to know. For each of us, there are things that we must see and do…there are falls we must experience, and wisdom that we must gain during the process of rising from a fall. If we try to insert our wisdom into the path of another, they will either be unable to hear us, or we could send them in the wrong direction. Remember that we are all blessed with inherent wisdom, and it is an injustice to another to speak over the voice that echos in their mind. Give volume to their silent whispers, and testify to the rightness of that which they know within. Allow them the gift of living. Allow them to travel at their own pace in their own way. Help them travel boldly and with empowerment and peace rather than fear and doubt. When we listen to ourselves, not to the voice of fear, but the whisper of truth, we experience peace. When we do what we know to be right for us, we act in empowerment. In doing this, we will have the opportunity to end up somewhere which belongs to us, rather than wake up in someone else’s journey.

Do not put living off another day. We are never promised tomorrow, and our dreams happen by grasping and seizing our todays, our opportunities, and our joys. In fact, we create our opportunities by showing up for ourselves, by showing up for our dreams.

Me, Him, Our Journey…

It has been one unique ride. I was blessed with a difficult childhood which allowed me to grow strong and independent.  I wasn’t protected or sheltered, I was schooled by life.  I was blessed with imperfections that have kept me humble. I was blessed with passion which sets my soul on fire. I was blessed to meet a multitude of people which created within me curiosity, diversity, respect, love and admiration. I was blessed with a love and hunger for life, for people, for the earth, for that which cannot be seen, for the moments when I can close my eyes and feel transcended. I was blessed with a taste for words, and an inability to achieve poetic satiety. I hear music in languages, see God in his children, find joy in a sunset and peace in the crashing of waves. I have learned life without Him and experienced the darkness that I am capable of and the brokenness that is possible. I have experienced His strength and soared with eagles. I have fallen from great heights, and risen from deep trenches. I have fallen from grace and risen from the ashes like a phoenix. I have lived many lifetimes in such a short existence. I have done all of this only to have built the foundation of what He has for me. It has taken all of this to learn that I can be a proud and confident woman, that He and life give me permission to walk tall and live out loud and in high definition. I have been in high places, and He has escorted me to the bottom to erase my fears. When I close my eyes, I can see what He has for me…when I sit in solitude, I can hear my own voice, and it reminds me of what He has imprinted in me and made me capable of. It is in those moments that I smile and give thanks for the blessing and privilege of being me, of the desire to taste life that I possess. Of the unquenchable thirst for adventure and knowledge, of the unending desire to administer to and experience others…to share their plight and rejoice in their joys. I have been blessed with angels who disguise themselves as my friends…who love me when I am unlovable, who speak strength into me when I have none, who share in my joys and lighten my sorrows. I am blessed to have the respect, admiration and understanding of kings and queens. I am blessed to be the daughter of two of the greatest teachers, who pushed me out of the nest allowing me to fall, knowing that I would soar.

Use me…

Dear God…I ask this night that you use me, that you use my life, that you take the wheel and make my existence profitable, beneficial, hopeful for others.  For as I go through the days and nights focusing on my grades, my finances, my fitness, my pedicure, my social calendar….not only do I become bored and uninspired, but I become profitless and listless.  I desire to feel alive, to feel apart of the miraculousness that is life.  I search for it in belongings, vices, experiences, but it all leaves me wanting, craving, needing.  I lie in bed aware of those who are starving, who are lonely and cold, crying out for recognition, for a witness to their existence…I walk through the rain feeling the tears of those who feel unanswered, unheard, unrecognized…I lay in the sun, grateful for its warmth while my thoughts drift to the souls of those without homes migrating without purpose across the scorching blacktop, the “concrete jungle” that is our city.  I used to work in the multi million dollar office of a real estate developer, sipping my over priced latte, concerned with what hot function to attend that weekend, while soulless souls, purposeless persons, forgotten fellows shuffled by my window.  I picked at my manicure, twirled my hair, and pondered on why I sat where I sat, and why they made comfort in our grass, grateful for a moments rest from the load they bare. God, please use me.  Whether for selfish reasons, for a desire that I cannot quench by my daily living, out of guilt for my blessings, or simply to connect to whatever it is yearning inside of me to infuse myself with the plight of those less fortunate than I.  God, please use me.  Please make right the lives of those that came before me through me.  What they were not able to overcome in their lifetime, please give me the strength to heal within myself for their peace.  God, please use me that I might be a vessel of power, comfort and inspiration to those in need.  God, please use me that my life will be of benefit to those that you would lift me up to meet and administer to.  God,  please give me the words and the understanding of the needs of others that I may be an instrument in Thy hands to bring peace to those who cry out, and those who know not how.  Let my agenda submit itself to yours, and my fears dissipate in the presence of Thy love and acceptance.  I thank Thee for the opportunity I have had to meet so many amazing brothers and sisters, and I ask that Thou would extend my circle to include those I never would have imagined.  I pray for the opportunity to experience those whom are different from me, those whom I can learn from, those who will make me uncomfortable and expand my acceptance and diversity.  I thank Thee for the many sources of inspiration along my journey, and I look forward to those that are yet to come.  Thank you for the fresh rain cleansing both our earth and our souls, and thank you in advance for the sun which will inhabit my flesh.  I love my life, and I thank you not only for the dance, but for the fight…for the peaks and the trenches.  I thank you for more than words can express…for those moments when only the silence will speak the song and gratitude of my soul.  I thank Thee and I ask that Thy blessings would be on those I know and love, those who inspire me, and for those who I have yet to meet or may never know.  I am truly blessed and eternally grateful. Thank you thus far and please don’t let Thy purpose for my life and the greater good die within me.

Let it Be…

There is much commotion lately about the worthiness of our nation’s people, those at our mercy to receive a helping hand. Whether it be health care, government assistance, minimum wage,disaster relief, what have you…there is much to be said on the topic from countering views. I recently saw a post by someone with a sarcastic connotation which stated “Work harder, the welfare recipients are counting on you…just saying.” It has been on my mind since, and I couldn’t keep it in another minute longer. I can understand the feeling of pride that one gets when they work hard and live smart putting them in a secure situation. I get sitting back and appreciating the fruits of your labor with the temptation to pat yourself on the back. It is even somewhat natural to feel as if you deserve it based on your efforts while those who did not work as hard do not…but take a moment and remember “There but by the grace of God go I” when you see someone sitting on the corner of the freeway in tattered clothes and holding a sign, as you pass the homeless man nursing a cheap bottle of whiskey as if it were his savior, remember that when you judge the young mother with more than one child standing in the welfare line. It is not ideal, not admirable, but it is real. None of us know the circumstances which led these souls to this state of living, or surviving, or just existing. Some of you may have walked that path, and may be standing on the other side with pride in your fortitude, but even then, it is by the grace of God that you have been delivered, or have “delivered yourself.” We have a nation full of broken souls, souls which we shun and shut out–for the recognition of such makes us uncomfortable. That young mother knows no love, and is looking for it in a man, in multiple men, in a child, or children, only to be disappointed yet again when it appears as a mirage, only to leave her empty, if not emptier than before. We have a society that does not cultivate the best in everyone, and despite what we would like to believe, not everyone is afforded a completely equal opportunity. That man clutching the bottle with hopes of escaping his demons, only finds them again when the booze wears off, and he realizes he does not know how to exorcise the demon that lives within, when he realizes he is utterly and completely alone. That man holding the sign may have been the high school quarterback, or the school outcast…it is possible for any of us to end up standing in their shoes under the “right” circumstances. I am not asking for your opinion on this matter, for I have, and continue to hear them all, I am not even stating my own. What I am asking for is for you to take a pause, step out of your own shoes, and realize you did not put yourself on this earth( no matter what your beliefs), you are blessed to be standing where you are, and it would do your soul good to lift up another to be standing next to you in whatever way you deem fit. Lately, I have been receiving healing to my soul through the timeless lyrics of a Beatles song, Let it Be…and I just wanted to pass them along.

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer. let it be.

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Unspoken words

Sadly we often do not know the last moment or opportunity we will have to express our appreciation or sing the praises of a loved one.  Do we take this into consideration when we sit in silence across the room from people who have built the bricks that make up our foundation, who have painted the colors of the rainbows that we cherish?  I have recently lost three of the people who most significantly imprinted and influenced my spirit, my heart, and my passions.  I was loved by a wise, gentle man…a man who chuckled at the simplest of jokes, and initiated your laughter with the ease of the afternoon.  A man who cared for the birds, laboring for hours building their homes, serving them, observing them.  A man who plants roses, gardens, myriad plants during the sun’s climax, and then sips a cool Pepsi while enjoying the fruits of his labors as the sun sets religiously.  I was loved by a man with patience as extensive as the ocean….who braved the unpredictable Oregon weather in appreciation of its greatness and majesty, in reverence of yet another afternoon meditation to negotiate the dance and surrender of a salmon, or trout…who more often than not returned empty handed but with a twinkle in his eye…to him, the river was like a religion.  I was loved by a man who made me his world, and allowed me to be his intern while treating me like his buddy or princess.  Thank you grandpa for your spirit and gentle heart…for making me laugh, and for making me feel important.  May you rest in peace and know of my admiration.

I was loved by an angel…by a woman with the purest, softest, gentlest spirit I have known.  A woman who opened her universe and made me her moon.  A woman who taught us (Jeanna, Leslie, Brandon) to wonder in the simplest of moments and creations.  Who took pinecones and helped us make angels and reindeers.  Who took lazy afternoons and turned them into adventures.  I was loved by a woman who taught me what unconditional love means, feels, and looks like…who loved me where I was at, and encouraged all that I would become.  A woman who loved diversity and rejoiced in the simple moments where she could be of service to us, to cultivate our happiness, our self worth, and our spirits.  I was loved by a woman who imprinted her soul into mine, a woman who I never for one second took for granted.  Nana…thank you for making room in your life for me, for teaching me love so that I could one day extend it to others…thank you for being a soft place to land, and a safe place to venture out from.  May you rest in peace and know of my appreciation.

I was blessed to adore a man who will never be replaced.  A man who reminded me to lighten up when I saw the serious side of things…a man who lit up the room, and made you feel as if it was your doing.  I was blessed to adore a man who creates life out of silent, meaningless moments…who looks at life and says ‘I dare you to keep up with me.’  A man who would drop anything in the world to help you out, to lend an ear, a hand, or to convince an army to come to your aid.  I was blessed to learn a lifetime of lessons about living from a man who extracted every ounce of living from the most minute moments, and turned them into unforgettable memories.  I will never forget the man who left footprints in the cement of my heart and my journey, who taught me how appropriate it is to be inappropriate.    Larry, thank you for the laughs, the ‘legend has its,’ the inappropriate late night phone calls to the ‘rents, the serious moments peppered by the shenanigans.  Thank you for teaching me how to live.  May you rest in peace, and raise hell. 

I give my thanks and my love to three of you, and would give anything to have taken the moment to say these words and so many more that will never express my love and appreciation for the effect you had on my life.  Thank you for enriching and enlightening my journey, and the journey of so many others.  Til we meet again…all my love, SaraMae