Friday, May 16, 2014

Special Angels

For the past several years, I have been substituting in the Putnam County Schools.  My favorite classes are Special Education for what some call ‘special needs’ children.  Of course, I don’t like the term special needs; therefore, I prefer to call them Special Angels, or SpAngels for short, because they really are Special Angels on earth.  At first I didn’t think I could do it as I had never been around SpAngels before.  But right from the get-go when I accepted a position in a Special Ed class, I fell in love. 

Before I got to know so many of these children, my attitude was that something was “wrong” with them because they had a physical and/or mental disability.  I couldn’t have been more…well…wrong.  Now I prefer to say that these children have a very special uniqueness.  Many, if not all, are very intelligent, have their own personalities, and will surprise you when least expected.  They just may not be able to communicate like the rest of us.

My belief is that these children came through the way they were meant to come through.  I know that may be a hard perspective for some and that’s okay.  I believe that these souls chose to have this experience on earth, not only for their own soul’s benefit, but for the benefit of all those to whom they will come in contact.  They came to teach us love, compassion, kindness, and patience.  Just like some of us have different skin colors, hair, and eyes, these children came through appearing different, yet just like the rest of us.  It’s unbelievable how much they have taught me and I so appreciate everything they have given me.  They’ve made me a better human being just for knowing them.

Before I had the honor of knowing these very special children, whenever I saw them in public, I would avoid eye contact or looking at them other than a quick glance.  I think most people do this, not because they’re being rude, but because they wouldn’t know what to say.  We’re not sure how to behave around them or their parents/guardians.  Now I know.  This past holiday season while walking into a store, I encountered a mother with her SpAngel in a wheelchair on her way out after shopping.  Her child was challenged both mentally and physically and was holding a new toy.  I went right up to the child, said a cheerful hello, and spoke to him for a moment just like I would any child even though he couldn’t respond other than his gorgeous smile.  I also acknowledged the mother and told her that her son was beautiful.  The look of gratitude on the mother’s face that someone would even notice her son was priceless and made it well worthwhile.  They both blessed me with their presence.

Many times, we encounter SpAngels of all ages with their parent(s) or caretaker in public places such as a store or restaurant.  Sometimes the SpAngel’s behavior may not be what we think it should be.  They may be talking and we can’t understand them or they may be making noises.  Sometimes, they’re not pleasant to look at because they don’t look like the “norm.”  It’s easy to sit in judgment and some may even think they shouldn’t be out in public.  But how about if we instead look at them through the eyes of love?  How about if we see them the way God/Universe/Spirit sees them?  How about if we respond to them just like we would anyone?  Look them in the eyes and say a cheerful hello.  Find something to say to compliment them.  Have compassion.  They want to be acknowledged and loved just like the rest of us.

Friends, we all come to earth in the bodies we have for whatever reasons.  No matter what we look like or how we act, we are so loved beyond measure just as we are.  If we could only see through the fa├žade of the outer illusions of physicality and see each others’ souls, we would see just how much alike we really are.  The light within all of us comes from the exact same Source.  When we connect to the light of the souls of those around us, we feel so much love for our fellow beings and we realize our oneness.

Eckhart Tolle stated, “You are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold. That is how important you are!”  This includes all of us.  Thank you, SpAngels, for blessing my life!  I love you and appreciate you!

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 16, 2014.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I See the Good In You!

“Ubuntu [is] the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.  A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.  If the world had more Ubuntu, we would not have war. We would not have this huge gap between the rich and the poor. You are rich so that you can make up what is lacking for others. You are powerful so that you can help the weak, just as a mother or father helps their children.  When you have Ubuntu, you embrace others. You are generous, compassionate.”  (Desmond Tutu)

What a beautiful philosophy!  Ubuntu (oo-buun-too) is a belief system out of Africa and is described as the capacity to express compassion, dignity, harmony, and humanity in the interests of building and maintaining community with justice and mutual caring.  It is consciousness of our natural desire to affirm our fellow human beings and to work and act towards each other with the mutual good for all.  Archbishop Tutu also said of Ubuntu, “I am, because you are; how I behave impacts not only on me, but also others around me because we all belong together.” 

There is an African phrase, “Sawa Bona,” which means “I see you.”  In response, the other person replies, “Sikhona,” which means “I am here.”  Other religions also say something similar.  “Namaste” basically means, “I see the divinity in you which is in me.”  Even the movie Avatar used the phrase “I see you” to acknowledge our connectedness.

I love this philosophy in that it brings people together.  It sees the good in each other and works together for the good of all.  In society, people tend to look for the bad first, and if someone doesn’t measure up to our standards, or if they don’t believe the way we do, we don’t want anything to do with them.  We demonize, oppress, and separate ourselves from them. 

This is one thing that saddens me about some extreme factions of Christianity and other extremists in religions.  There is too much hate and bigotry.  There is no Ubuntu.  Jesus taught love, compassion, and kindness, and he worked to bring people together, as did the many other great spiritual masters throughout time.  He saw the good in people and he taught them to see the best in themselves.  He excluded no one.  His love was unconditional for all of humanity.

There is a great story I saw recently on Facebook about an African tribe and a ceremony they perform when someone strays from being the good person they were meant to be.  “When someone does something harmful and wrong, they take the person to the center of the village, and the whole tribe comes and surrounds him. For two days, they will say to the man all the good things that he's done.  The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as good; each one of us desiring safety, love, peace, and happiness. But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes. The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help.  They unite to lift him, to reconnect it with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he remembers fully the truth of which he had been temporarily disconnected…‘I'm good.’”

There’s another beautiful story about an anthologist who put a basket of fruit near a tree and told the children of the African tribe that the first one to reach the fruit would win all the fruit.  When he told them to run, they took each other’s hands, ran together, then sat together enjoying the fruits.  When he asked why they ran like that and that one child could have taken all the fruit for himself, they said, “Ubuntu, how can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?”

Regardless of our religious beliefs, I think we could all learn from Ubuntu.  If everyone practiced Ubuntu, just think of how we could change the world!  Sawa Bona!

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 9, 2014.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Making a Difference

As I have written in past articles, I love the diversity in our world!  The different races, cultures, religions, and everything else in between.  There is so much to be learned from everyone and I appreciate those lessons.  I also cherish those who have blessed me so much with their uniqueness. 

Personally, I believe that our souls came here to play a role.  There are certain things our souls want to experience for our own cosmic growth.  We don’t always know what someone’s soul came here to experience, including our own, so it’s sometimes hard to except the fact that others aren’t behaving the way we think they should, or that we’re not where we want to be at this moment. 

Yes, we still have choices and the path of our lives is not set in stone.  I use the analogy that we are here making a movie.  Before we came to earth, we wrote the script, we’re the actor and the director, and we invite other actors to participate in our scenes.  But just like in the movies, if a scene isn’t working, we can change it.  We do so when we have learned something earlier than we expected so we can re-write the script to reflect those changes.

I don’t understand why I’m where I am at this point in my life.  I sure never expected that my life would have turned out the way it did.  In my younger years, I had big dreams and I saw my life in a completely different place than I am now.  Those dreams were my human dreams, which can come true when aligned with our soul’s plans, except apparently, my soul had something else in mind.  Looking back in hindsight, though, I can see that if those dreams had come true, I wouldn’t be there person I am today, and I like who I am, though I’m still constantly striving to become more enlightened so that I can be a better human being. 

I never expected to have a breakdown in 1997.  Believe it or not, it was one of the best things to have ever happened to me.  I learned to have so much more love, compassion, understanding, and empathy for my fellow beings, as well as for myself.  It started me on a serious spiritual journey that has helped me to gain more wisdom and insight into mankind and life in general than I would have had otherwise. 

Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing any good on this earth or if I’m making any kind of difference, and I can get pretty down when I think that I’m not.  Then someone will tell me that something I said or did made them feel better, or even changed their life, and it lifts my spirits and makes my soul sing.  When life gets overwhelming, especially when I tend to take on the weight of the world, it is oftentimes hard to remember those moments when I did make a difference in someone’s life.  It’s easier to see all the negativity around us and how the world seems to be falling apart because that’s all we see and hear in the media and on the Internet.  But if you look, there are so many souls out there who are making a wonderful difference in the world!  They’re touching people’s lives because their hearts are so filled with the love of the Universe and they know we’re here to be of service to one another.

That’s one reason I enjoy Facebook.  The majority of my ‘friends’ are from the spiritual community so everyone posts mostly uplifting pictures and information.  Stories of people working for the greater good of all, whether it’s for humans, animals, and/or our wonderful Mother Earth.   Reading or seeing many of these stories has caused me to bawl a river of tears because they have touched me to the core of my being. 

Our diversity can be our strength when we work together, when we find what we have in common, and know that when it comes down to it, it really is all about the love.  We each make the choice as to what kind of difference we are making in the world.  Personally, I prefer to try to plants the seeds of unconditional love, compassion, and kindness.  Gandhi said, “It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 2, 2014.