The portals of heaven

Fred sitting on the window sill

One thing that I need to be always aware of, is the tendency to look for what is wrong. I find myself petting the cats, and using it as an opportunity to check them for ticks, see if their ears are clean, and scan their furry little bodies for signs of trouble. This is just a bad habit, but wow is it a big one for me. I’ve justified it by saying, “I might as well do two things at once.” But it isn’t true. Petting, appreciating and lovingly gazing at the animals (or at human beings for that matter) is a very different energetic activity from looking for what is defective, inadequate, insufficient, potential trouble, or disease.

My mother was a nurse, and I can remember her doing this with us; always pointing out a pimple, uncombed hair or some other untidy little “defect” that she picked up…..and she looked at herself with the same critical eyes. I wish I could say that I didn’t do this with my sons, but that wouldn’t be true. I didn’t become aware of this trait until they were grown and gone.

So I am working on changing this today. Today, I choose to look for what is right, perfect and lovely, both in myself and in all other beings.

There is no physician like cheerful thought for dissipating the ills of the body….To live continually in thoughts of ill will, cynicism , suspicion, and envy is to be confined in a self-made prison hole. But to think well of all, to be cheerful with all, to patiently learn to find the good in all, such  thoughts are the very portals of heaven; and to dwell day by day in thoughts of peace toward every creature will bring abounding peace to the possessor.” James Allen (from As A Man Thinketh, 1903)

13 thoughts on “The portals of heaven

  1. Well thank you for this warm advice/influence as well as a prompt to go look for my old well-loved copy of the book. Cindy:NH

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  2. When I was 12 I had an adverse reaction to a small pox test that left a scar on my shoulder. My Dad made a comment that made me feel like he was somehow disappointed I wasn’t “perfect” anymore. It stayed with me all through my teen years. I became a bit of a rebel. Why bother since I could never be perfect again. In the heat of an argument over my breaking curfew I told him about the comment and how it made he feel. I will never forget the stunned look on his face. He had tears in his eyes when he said he didnt remember saying that. It was so clear to me he was absolutely sincere and that he loved me scar and all. Our relationship changed for the better. There was no longer the pressure of being perfect to live up to his love for me and he understood my attitude had come from a big misunderstanding. I channeled my rebelliousness towards environmental issues (this was back in the 70’s) something we could agree on. I had the chance to have the scar removed a few years later and decided not to. It was no longer a mark of imperfection but a symbol of unconditional love.

    • Deb, this is a beautiful story and a testimony to love and acceptance years later, in that by not removing the scar, you were choosing instead to remember it as your father’s total love for you, and how words uttered in haste can leave scars lasting far longer. So glad you spoke up!

    • Deb, your story reminded me of a belief I had from my past about being perfect. My father had a habit of making fun of people – especially those who had some type of disability or defect of any type. He would laugh at them or make some pointed comments or actually point at them. These were not necessarily done in a quiet or unobtrusive way. At those times I believed that all ill or disabled people were meant to stay at home and not be out in public. I could not understand how they could be out. I was afraid of becoming ill or having an accident or anything where people could see imperfections. I felt they should hide themselves. If I nicked myself when I shaved my legs, I immediately thought that was a mark on me that made me imperfect. I wondered how people became a Miss America – assuming that they had NO marks or blemishes on them.

  3. Good morning Mary! Not too long ago you suggested to me to ‘look past the flesh’ of people. Since that discussion, and your blog about ‘twinkle’, and my experience with the homeless man, I have started to look into people’s eyes. I mean REALLY look…not just a glance and then look away. I realized that while I always make ‘eye contact’, I haven’t really really looked into their eyes. To hold their glance for a few seconds. So I have done that recently…with my husband, my sister, her dog, my mom, my friends, the check out lady at the grocery store, my favorite waitress at my favorite cafe…at first it feels a bit awkward. But it is a much different, much deeper connection and feeling than just making eye contact in a conversation. It has filled me with a deeper, stronger feeling toward them…and I’ve felt such emotions of love and caring. I’m not looking for their fear, or their hurt, or their happiness even. I’m trying to look past that…I think I am looking for their heart. You are so right…it is a totally different energy…a different “focus”, a purer focus, than seeing them based on what they may be dealing with at the moment. What a lovely post this is! I think I may go right to the mirror and look at my own eyes for a minute…look past my own flesh…THANK YOU! XOXO

    • Kathye! Thank you for sharing this phrase of Mary’s here, ‘look past the flesh’ of people. This is an inspiring post to start the week. I have often thought that of all the senses we have been given, sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell and of course the elusive ‘sixth sense’, the most fickle of the senses is our sight, because we can so hastily and instantaneously make snap judgements upon first seeing someone. If there would be any advantage to being blind, maybe that would be it – one would see past the flesh and all the other senses would be that much more engaged. Happy Monday everyone.

  4. Wow. . did this strike home! just before reading this today, I had clipped some knots from my cat’s fur. . .he came to me to rub and be loved and I snuck the scissors out. . .next time, I’ll give him a break and hope that it informs my day with others. . .thanks so much, vmg

  5. Mary’s post and the various replies are pointing up my self-observation to something that occurred this morning. I went to exercise class and a new woman was in the class. After the class, she asked if I were a dancer or a gymnast. (I’m laughing as I am reading this sentence.) I NEVER think of myself as coordinated or in step or things along this line. All I could think of was the eyes in which I am seeing myself and the eyes in which others see me. WOW, do I ever have to do an audit of my thoughts. This woman said she views me as a role model – something she can reach for as she matures.

    • Mary! Go Mary, go! I am reading this later in the day, and I am seeing you claiming your inner ‘dancer or gymnast’!!!!! Something you did, or how you moved, struck a chord in the person that attended your class, the common thread. What a lovely gift today, – shake it Mary!

  6. This struck a cord for me too, so I look forward to a day full of good feeling observations! Thank you for your insight and honesty Mary.

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