I recognize that I may be somewhat of an anomaly - one of a relatively small group of people who don't love animation. Truth is that I don't even like it too much. No interest in Comic Con, the latest HBO adult cartoons, or even The Simpsons! As a child I was never crazy for cartoons and other than taking my children to Disney and Pixar movies I've had little to no interest in most things animated. So you might imagine that it came as quite a surprise to me when I felt moved to use an animated short, in place of writing, on my blog this week! The Present has so many lessons in it's 4-minute story and for me it connects so beautifully to my website's weekly inspiration about courage, listening to the small voice within, connection, and dancing (finding joy) wherever you are. And, hey, for me it's much better than The Simpsons. Enjoy!
You’re likely familiar with Alexander Pope’s famous saying, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” As a humanist, I think that “to err is human, and to forgive is human.” Forgiveness is a difficult concept to grapple with and it’s an even more difficult practice to live. But with empathy, sympathy, and reason, you can forgive. It actually makes me think of a YouTube video I saw a few years ago with an AME pastor in Cleveland who was speaking to his congregation about the new F-word in his church. That F-word was forgiveness! He told his people “touch your neighbor and say F you! Look down your whole row and say F y’all too! Take out your phones and text your exes. Say I’m in church. F you!” Every time I think about the video I laugh out loud. I kind of like referring to forgiveness as the new F-word because it’s strong language that we don’t often use and it makes some people uncomfortable.
There is a saying that states when you forgive someone its like setting a prisoner free. The prisoner just happens to be you. Now don’t get me wrong, forgiveness does not mean there was no harm caused. It doesn’t absolve anyone of their responsibility to make things right and ensure the wrong doesn’t happen again. I often hear people say I’ll forgive but I won’t forget. I understand the sentiment and the reasoning behind it but I would suggest this: forget what hurt you but never forget what that hurt taught you. It’s the stories of forgiveness that exemplify the greatness of the human spirit.
Consider for a moment where there is resentment in your own being. Harboring resentment impacts your life, your family, your work. I know this to be true from painful personal experience! Sometimes the impact is overt but more often it’s subtle and the grudges we carry keep us hunched over. They prevent us from really seeing one another. They keep us from fully living freely and can keep us from working with others in deeply meaningful ways. I encourage you to consider the practice of forgiveness in your life.
Forgiveness is powerful, transformative and possible when we realize that everyone wants to be happy and avoid pain. And that mistakes and poor choices are part of life’s journey. If you mindfully make forgiveness an everyday practice I promise you the result is that you will be happier. Remember that each day is a stepping stone into the opportunities and possibilities of what is ahead – our future. Desmond Tutu asserts that without forgiveness, there is no future!
“My friends, these are simple words, yet some people find them hard to say, “ said the wise stranger. “I think you have the courage to speak them. The trick is that you must say them to each other and truly mean them. The first two words are ‘I’m sorry’. The other three are “I forgive you.”
Now go say to someone "F you"!
Late last week I went on Facebook and the first post I read was the announcement that a 9 year old girl from my area had died. She had been fighting cancer for the past 5 years and the post declared her "battle was over". I had seen small yard signs with words of encouragement for the little girl placed all around town in front of homes and businesses. I'd seen those signs since I moved here a nearly a year ago, but I wasn't sure who they were for. The truth is that I assumed they were for an adult and I never once thought they were to encourage a child. Just a few days ago I noticed that while some signs were no longer in yards, others were still in place. Maybe they hadn't heard the heartbreaking news. Or maybe it's just too painful to accept.
When I read that Facebook post I found myself momentarily overwhelmed with grief. I kept thinking she was just a little girl. I remarked to my husband that she hadn't even reached double digits. Today I find myself impacted by this child's life and death in unexpected ways. It prodded me to choose a weekly inspirational quote for my website that was not what I had originally planned. The quote's author is unknown but I'm taking the words to heart as if they are my own: Do not regret growing older. It's a privilege denied to many.
Every day that I am alive is another day that I grow older and every day that I grow older is a privilege. Life offers us no guarantees, and neither does death. As a Humanist I am focused on this one life that I am privileged to experience, and since turning fifty a couple of years ago I've been keenly aware of just how precious and fleeting this one life is. I've already reached double digits and the half century mark! Who knows, maybe I'll reach triple digits. But the reality is that no matter who we are, where we come from, and what we have, no one knows just how long the journey and adventure of life will last. Each of us will face battles and we won't always emerge the victor. Regardless of battles and losses, failure and pain, I want to celebrate as best I can each and every day that I have. From the stories I've been reading about the little girl who lived just a few miles away, she was able to touch many lives with her own as she lived as fully as possible and celebrated the joy of life.
Every day that I am privileged to grow older is a day of birth and yes, every day is another birthday! I don't know how many more I'll have but I plan to appreciate every one of them as I appreciate the beautiful little girl who celebrated just 9 years' worth.
Happy birthday to you, dear readers!
Change is a hot topic in politics and religion. It pretty much always has been. Change is a hot topic for a lot of people in a lot of life situations: loss, marriage, birth, divorce, new job, empty nest, aging, relocation, just to name a few. I remember hearing someone years ago say that the only ones who fully welcome changes are babies. Diaper-wearing babies! Hmmm, I think there is some truth in that thought. So this week's words of inspiration on the kathleenagreen.com website have given me reason to pause, reflect, and act: "Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I'm changing myself."
Changing the world has always been appealing to me and I've always thought that by joining forces with other like-minded people such change was undoubtedly possible. I've also always known it would be hard work but it's why I went into professional ministry a decade ago. It's the kind of change that excites, inspires, and motivates me. I think there are a lot of people who feel similarly and they're not members of the clergy. We all hear it from politicians, ad nauseam: "We need change and I'm the one who's going to make it happen." Oooh, I can think of several politicians that would benefit from concentrating on the changes needed in themselves before they go off on the "change the world" tour! And are any of us really any different? Sure, we hope so, but ..... I can't help but wonder how impactful anyone's efforts will be if there is not a willingness to make personal changes.
Change can be difficult when we'd rather keep the status quo alive and well. Change can be challenging when it requires a truth that we'd rather not have to deal with. Change can be painful when it stretches our thinking, our habits, our lifestyle, and we'd much rather stick with the comfort of what we know and have come to accept. This goes for both changing the world and changing ourselves! So how about we take the time we need to focus on today and the wisdom it takes to be self-aware? I am re-committing myself to the task. Today.
Look forward to walking the path of change with you and then changing the world together. Ready, set, go!
I had hoped to post once a week, and did for a short time. Unfortunately, my doctorate research and other obligations have taken priority over the blog. BUT, I will return soon! Some postings may be articles I've written for publication, messages I've delivered in congregational settings, or excerpts from papers written in my doctoral classes.