Wednesday, February 27, 2013

GRACE IN TIMES OF NEED.

There is a grace that must come with aging. After all, we are going to lose our friends, whether we like it or not, so we had better develop some grace, tact and dignity or we are going to be miserable and bitter. Hopefully I'd developed some of these traits before this.

The truth is that I love all beings. It is a gift bestowed on me at birth. Well, sometimes a gift...sometimes a burden. My lot in life has been to learn how to carry it. If you look at the returning lessons of your life you will see that there are only a few lessons that keep returning to you, round and round like a spiral. This is a life secret that my friend Mary Faith Rhodes shared with me many years ago, in a passing conversation, and indeed, it has turned out to be true. I'm grateful to her for it, because once known, I began to watch and the lessons became clearer.

In these few days, a good old friend of mine is dying. We hadn't had contact until through the wonders of facebook, I found him and his wife. They were shaping influences in my young adult years. They have continued to be influential in the lives of many and his dying is a public event thanks to his incredibly spiritual and poetic wife. I have the good fortune to witness it and be back in their lives in this manner. They are teaching me to face my fear of my grief and to love them right through the dying.

This is not my first death in my dawning elder years. There was another just a month ago, and several in the past few years. My aging is dragging me into facing my worst fear -- loss. I don't fear my own death, because I have no fear of the beyond. It represents peace to me. No, my fears are fears of living: pain, loss, abandonment. So often I have left people when they needed me most. Well, not exactly LEFT them, but withdrawn or been less than fully present.

How about you? Are you fully present in your daily relationships? Do you know how to set boundaries to preserve your sanity but be there for your loved ones? Do you know how to separate who is a loved one and who is an "acquaintance?" Being a quintessential observer of life has helped me shape the lines for myself: Who can I help and who can I not? What exactly is helpful? How do I communicate my own needs directly?

This business of living a peaceful life involves communication, observation and decisionmaking. And listening, always listening, inside and out.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

COACHING FOR PEACE???

“Communities are places or entities where each member can give something, where they can contribute something that they feel especially able to give, something they are good at. The gift from each member is valued by the whole community and all gifts are unique and individual. The gift that the community gives back to each member is that of a role and a connection.”
—Ed Margason

What do you think about this? I remember in my twenties and early thirties, I would search for a church community more because of what I needed than because of what I had to give. I wanted to belong. I had a need for family where my family wasn't meeting those needs. Frankly, I was still growing up, but I didn't realize that. At a point it dawned on me exactly what Ed is saying, that if I wanted to fit, I had to ask myself what I had to give to, rather than what I could get from, the community I was in.

At that point I had been attending the Religious Society of Friends for over ten years. I'd already become a part of the community but not for the reasons Ed cites. I'd become a part of because the Friends (Quakers) never pushed me to become a part of. They espoused attraction rather than promotion. In other words, they lived what they believed. And this was incredibly attractive. Being a part of a community where people lived on a daily basis what they talked about on Sundays did tend to make one curious about coming back for the next episode!

What attracts you to the people you are with? Is it just familiarity with those you've been with since childhood? Do the people you are with support your spiritual vision and help you to carry out your mission in life? Do you have a mission? Do you live out of a sense of purpose, or does your life run you? Its my sense that community is a place that fosters positive growth and pulls from us the growing edge.
Sometimes other things masquerade as community.

“Some people think they are in community, but they are only in proximity. True community requires commitment and openness. It is a willingness to extend yourself to encounter and know the other.” (David Spangler) Ah, there's the catch -- commitment. One can not be a confirmed individualist and be tied to those nasty commitments! So what are you committed to? Yourself? Your family? Your God? Your job? You may say you are committed, but are your commitments in line with your beliefs? If not, I'm betting you are in a hill of conflict, every day.

This is the stuff coaching is made of...how to get life in line with one's beliefs. Living from the inside out; that's what peace is made of.