Tag Archive | letting go of the past

reckless loving

 

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Jack brings home piles of antique books from the recycle center…he just cannot bear to see them thrown away… I just found a creative way to deal with some of them!

I was on an early morning walk yesterday, several miles from home, when I noticed a bird in the road. I assumed that it had been hit by a car, so I wanted to pick it up and lay it gently under a tree, but as I got closer, this gorgeous red-headed woodpecker turned its head and looked at me. “You are alive!”, were the words that came out of my mouth as I reached down with mittened hands to pick him*up.

I began to walk home, but decided to stop at the nearest house and ask for a ride. The man who answered the door was so kind. Before I could even ask, he was grabbing his jacket and car keys. As I approached our front door, Jack was standing in his robe, looking rather concerned as he said, “What can I do?”

We’d just taken our Christmas ornaments out of the boxes and set them aside, still full of fluffy tissue paper…perfect as a temporary place to put our feathered friend while I went to my computer to look for help. The first site that came up was North Country Wild Care (http://www.northcountrywildcare.org). The woman who answered the phone gave me the number of a local vet who usually takes wild animals/birds for evaluation. She told me to call them but added if they couldn’t take him, to call her right back and she would figure something else out. I don’t know what I expected but I was overwhelmed with gratitude that this woman cared so much and wasn’t going to drop us. The vet’s office said that they would take him, and told me to bring him right in.

Jack and I gently closed up the box and put it on the front seat of my car, but as I drove to the vet’s office, the bird became agaiated, moving inside the box in a way that concerned me. I thought that classical music might be soothing but couldn’t find a station, so I began to sing Christmas carols. To my delight, the scratching stopped.

After a brief evaluation, the vet tech told me that she thought the woodpecker would be OK. They were going to do a complete examination and if he couldn’t be released into the wild, they would call North Country Wild Care and a wildlife rehab specialist would pick him up.

Back in my car I sat for a minute and let myself soak in all that had happened in the past hour. The love and care that we (the little injured bird and myself) were shown was overwhelming. From the moment I picked him up from the road, to handing him over at the vet’s office, it was as if we were floating on a ribbon of Grace. Loving help was there at every turn…for me, for him…

When we talked later that evening, Jack said, “I’m not sure that I would’ve known what to do if I’d come across a bird like that. How did you know what to do?”

“I didn’t”. I replied, “I just knew that I wasn’t going to leave him in the road so I picked him up. Then I began to walk. It was as if “instructions” were given to me at every step.”

This incident made me think about the unconditional love that was shown by so many people in the helping of this little injured creature. Selfless, generous, love, by the vet, the wildlife rescue center, the man who gave me a ride, Jack…and even me. It also made me think about how I love others.

This year has been an eye-opener for me…many incredible gifts and also some painful realizations…the most significant being that I had not been generous with my love…especially at home. As I examined my life, I could see that I’d been stingy, cautious, and calculating with my affection: withholding it if I felt slighted, or sensed it wasn’t being returned in an equal or greater measure.

But that changed this year, and even though I know that spiritually I’ve stepped into a new world, it has at times been terrifying. I’ve become acutely aware of my fear of being hurt, or taken advantage of, or being made a fool for trusting. And when those fears come up, it feels like there is a battle for my soul happening within. I can feel that old frightened self say, “Cut and run” and the voice of Love say, “All is well. You can trust life. You can trust love. I am here with you each step of the way and you are now on new ground. Leave the past behind and live fully now.”

A friend sent me the quote below yesterday, and I felt like it spoke directly to my life, my heart, my situation in life. I just love the words, “Love is reckless ….” Reckless! Just reading those words makes me feel braver. I no longer want to weigh and measure my giving. I want to be reckless in my loving. I want to be oblivious to what I get in return. I want to love for the sake of loving.  I want to give all of me to all of life. WIthholding ourselves may feel safe but it isn’t. Eventually, a “safe” life becomes small, steril, joyless, and unbearable.

The call to myself this day, this year, this holiday season, is to love everything and everyone. To forgive everything and everyone. To give everything ,and to become a reckless fool for Love.

Fear and love are contradictory terms. Love is reckless in giving away, oblivious as to what it gets in return. Love wrestles with the world as with the self and ultimately gains mastery over all other feelings….” Mahatma Gandhi (On Love)

*I’m not sure what sex the woodpecker was.

A new question

smile

Smiling sky

One thing that I keep needing to re-learn, is never to ask myself a question when the answer will not be helpful. Have you ever noticed that the only time you ask yourself the question, “What is wrong with me?” is when you are not feeling good? And what then do we think the answer will be? Something new, uplifting, and helpful? Never.

Questions like, “What is wrong, what is missing, why do I feel so ……?”, are ripe opportunities for the egoic mind to jump in and say, “I”ll tell you what is wrong with you! And then it goes crazy with all sorts of worn-out, old, frightening reasons why you are in the wretched state that you are, and why this is your (or someone else’s) fault. And we believe it. It feels like the truth.

When I catch myself doing this, I try to ask a better question, like, “What is right about this (or me?). What is right in my life right now?” and then I don’t try to figure it out, I let an answer come. Sometimes just asking the question is enough to lift my spirits and help me start feeling better. It is such a simple and heart-felt prayer: “Show me what is right, show me what is good about my life, right now.” Questions like these have the power to break old patterns of reactive thought since they are invoking the deeper self: the Spirit of Love itself.

Ask yourself a new question today….one that doesn’t cause you to cringe and brace yourself for the answer, but that makes you smile in happy anticipation; one you would enjoy hearing the answer to.

The voice in the head has a life of its own. Most people are at the mercy of that voice: they are possessed by thought and by the mind. And since the mind is conditioned by the past, you are then forced to reenact the past again and again. The Eastern term for this is karma.” Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth (pg 129)

*As a friend and I were walking to our morning watercolor class this past Saturday, I looked up in the sky and saw a plane flying in what appeared to be an arc, and then it began to close and make a circle. We stood there speechless, as it completed the circle and then came back around to make a smile (you can see the outline on the right).

Strangers

Queen Esther!

I was doing the dishes yesterday afternoon and an interesting thought came to me…one I’ve never had before. I was thinking about what someone told me that an old high school boyfriend said about me (15 years after we’d broken up) when she ran into him in a bar. The break up was initiated by me, and he was really upset, but at the time, I didn’t care all that much. I was on to other things; boys, drinking, and a variety of semi-crazy behaviour and thought. What he said to my friend was: “I look forward to the day when Mary comes crawling back so I can tell her no.”

I haven’t seen this man in years and I have no idea how he feels now, but my thought yesterday was, “I have changed so much since high school when I was an angry young girl, actively drinking, taking drugs, trying so hard to find happiness and feeling so deeply distressed and alone”. I think this is what grudges are all about; holding a snapshot of someone in our minds and not allowing them to change, so even if they do, we cannot see the change, won’t allow it, otherwise years of hating might seem wasted.”

But the truth is that any negative image held in our minds, drains our life, our energy and our ability to embrace the new. Resentments and anger are exhausting and limiting in the most severe way, making us feel old and tired. My intention for this weekend is to look at everyone that I meet (or even think about) and especially those that I know,  as if I’m meeting them for the first time.

What we know of other people, is only our memory of the moments, during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they, and we, are the same, is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must remember that at every meeting, we are meeting a stranger.” T. S. Eliot

A child’s mind

Today is a new day, why not make it your intention to let go of the hurtful past? (above is a wonderful photograph sent by a friend)

I started to write yesterday about an experience that I had as a substitute teacher, and found myself off in a completely different direction, which is fine with me, but the memory of one moment, keeps coming up.

This particular day, I was assigned to a kindergarten class in Bolton Landing, NY. The teacher was out, but her classroom aide was  there…a fact that I was most grateful for since I knew nothing about running a class, and this was my first (and only) day at this school. My gratitude was short-lived however, because as I expressed it to her, and thought she’d be happy to show me the ropes, she said, “You are the teacher. I’m just the aide. I get paid to help out, not to run the class.”OK. Well, here I go, “teaching” a bunch of 5 year olds, all day, under the critical eye of this woman. I wasn’t looking forward to it.

I somehow made it through the morning. At snack time, everything changed. The kids pulled out their little bags of crackers and cut-up vegetables and  I went around to make sure everyone was eating. I stopped at a table where a boy and girl were talking, just as she was asking him if she could have one of his goldfish crackers. He responded by violently scooping them away from her, with the biggest scowl, and yelled, “No!” Less than a minute later, he said to her, “Can I have one of your….”(i can’t remember what she had as a snack but I remember her reply)… She looked at him with the sweetest smile and said “Sure” as she let him take some of her snack. I thought “My God, what I just witnessed was amazing. This little girl had no hesitation, resentment, no righteous indignation…”

There were many “memorable” moments in my few short years as a substitute teacher, but this stands out as one of the greats. If I could forget as easily, (as this little girl did), all of the petty (and not so petty) harms and slights that I had repeatedly remembered over the years, how much sweeter life could be. So often people will say to me, “I have forgiven, but I’ll never forget.” And I always think, “Then you are going to keep suffering, because every time we pull up an old harm, we have to re-live it, we re-feel it and that is a very hard way to live.

Forgiveness means letting go of the past“. Gerald Jampolsky