Archive for the ‘Beauty’ Category

    Christinas World 2

Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth (painted in 1948)

How are things in your world today? Perhaps it’s meh. Whatever.  Or maybe it’s utterly fantabulous!  Completely awesome and amazing. Great! Some days are better than others.

     I’ve been thinking though.  On many of our days, it feels like something is missing.  I think I know what it is: Connection.  It’s what binds us to one another.   These days it seems like we’re really all slipping away from one another at break-neck speed.

Sure there’s Facebook and Twitter and email and never ending texting. It’s as if we’re continually close. But in terms of relationships? So far away.

You know what I miss? Real talking. Seeing face to face.   Human touch, a real hug, not a cute sound byte followed by LOL!  Relationships that only time together forges.

It’s like we’ve become shy towards those we already know. We’ve become distant from those in our own families. We’re available by screen connection only. We’re all very very busy. We long for more, but can’t seem to find our way back to a real relationship. Picking up the phone to actually talk feels…well, heavy.

As a very young little girl, I was aware art contained underlying messages that painters and photographers were trying to say.   In my teen years, it expanded of course to music as well. Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting Christina’s World is the first painting I remembered seeing, knowing that I would always remember this. I was probably six or so and remember seeing it on a restaurant wall. Other people were just eating and seemingly unaware at a table underneath it. But I stopped and really saw it for the first time.

It felt like this: I know.

And that was before all this technology of the 21st century!

We all feel like this sometimes. Outside. Looking in. Unable to go another step.   Needing rest and finding none.   Alone. Abandoned. Seeking shelter. Almost there, but not quite.   So close, so faraway.

Maybe that’s just my take, but I doubt it. Everyone seems to know this painting and not even know why they know it. They just do.

I saw this painting again the other day after not having seen it for many years. Immediately, I remembered the first time seeing it as a little girl. Decades of experiences and memories have happened to me in the forty some years since I first saw it.   And yet here Christina sits–forever frozen in time, in a field of grass, just shy of the buildings she sees. What is she thinking? What was she hoping for?

Christina brings color and light to a plain, even dreary world. She also brings pain and pondering. She brings both beauty and sadness.   She brings all of herself and we can almost imagine how she feels, yet we don’t even see her face. It’s like thinking you know someone, and yet knowing really you don’t know them at all.

You may not know this, but maybe you are “Christina” in someone else’s dark world.  Despite your flaws and your dirty dress, just you being in their picture of the world brings light and hope.  Like Christina, you too were created because it pleased our Creator.

Art and music are strange magic for sure. Sometimes it makes us look at or hear the artist and we feel as if we know them. Art and music holds up a mirror to our own life with images and words that allow us see ourselves as we truly are, or perhaps wish we were. But it can play tricks on us too. Sometimes we feel sure we are seeing it the way they intended us to see it or hear it the way we think they mean. We think we know them or what they were feeling when they created something, but how can we possibly?

Maybe it’s just me. But Christina represents human connection. The painting is so powerful because it appears as if she has none. And yet many feel connected to her, a woman who  never really has existed except in the mind of the artist. Or does (did) she?

Art and music binds us through beauty and meaning, even though each of us see and hear that which is created, as well as the creator who made it differently. This mutual admiration of that which delights our soul keeps us close, though in proximity we are all far away from one another.

And in a world of instant information and messaging, but to the exclusion of real relationships, Christina reminds us there is a world outside of thumbs and screens. She’s a silent reminder to stop, stay, and appreciate art, to see beauty, to find the melody that is the rhythm of our soul: to find and connect to those deeper places in each of us and in the world.  At least it does me. I hope I’m not alone.

Song for Someone

This poem is inspired by the song “A Song for Someone” — U2 — Songs of Innocence CD Jacket

I have a song for someone.

I hope they will hear it.

It’s a song for the broken, and sometimes the brokenhearted.

It’s a song for someone I love now.

It’s also for a song for someone I loved long ago.

You may feel forgotten. I’m telling you, I remember.

You may feel insignificant. I’m telling you, you are the light in an all too dark world.

You may have thought you were invisible when people walked right past you.

But I saw you. I know your name. I know every lie and the truest truth about you.

Strangers pass you every day unaware they are in the presence of an angel.

I saw you smile through your tears. No one is a hopeless case.

I saw you when you kept going. I know the storms and the roads that are still ahead.

I only see you as beautiful. I only see you as whole. I envision you as well.

I see you everywhere you go.

I’m closer than your shadow.

I’m the whisper in the winds of memory of all you know that is true.

I’m the blue sky of infinite possibility.

I am the song of joy that plays in your head.

I am the tear-laced prayers you whisper alone in your bed.

Oh how I cried for you. For you know not what you sometimes do.

But I do. That’s why I gave it all away for you.

If you have days left to spend, create them to be beautiful.

See. Hear. Feel. Do.

And let your light shine with all of your soul

Because you were always loved.

I’ll be your song. Because you were always my someone.

 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you? ” — William Arthur Ward

 Photo by Liz Gray

I saw this caption in a travel magazine promoting  tourism of the country of Turkey.  I saw it and immediately thought:  I wish that was my original idea!

It’s not.  But the practice of the concept can be an original idea for you, for me, for all of us, starting now:   This very moment.

Stop multi-tasking for a second as you read this.  Think about this deeply.  Look around.  Are you inside or outside?  If you are inside, where are you?  At home?  At work?  On a mobile device in the great outdoors?   Take a panoramic mental snapshot of what’s around you:  Architecture, mementos, photographs, nature, security, landscapes, gifts, birds, business, people, stars, flowers, insects, sky, sunrise, clouds–signs of life abounds everywhere.   When you look at the world, what is it that you see?

Do you see beauty?  Do you see what God has created?  Even if it’s man made, did not God put the original idea, the skill set to craft, the desire to create, first in the mind of you or someone who thought I’m going to build this amazing bridge or paint this amazing portrait or mix compounds in a new way and create a cure.

We live in a distracted world.  For sure, we have inherited a problematic world that multiplies daily in terms of crisis and depth of despair.  The news sucks, people everywhere around us are sick and dying, we are overworked, underpaid, overstressed, and undernourished in every way—spiritually, physically, and emotionally.   We are slaves to too much technology.  We can’t keep up with our own self, much less anyone else.

How do you turn it off?  How do you silence all the chaos that surrounds you and ensuing drama in your head?  What is it that works for you?  Do you have something?

  • Supportive Friends
  • Faith
  • Prayers
  • Hope
  • Music
  • Art
  • Love of or for someone other than you

I hope you have one, two, or even all of the above!

      We can’t always change our circumstance in life.  That means there is only one thing we can change:

Our Perspective

      I don’t know about you, but when I look at the world, this is what I see:

Flowers, character lines on old faces, color, deliciousness, babies, painting, design, patterns, solutions, craft work, words, kindness, goodness, feats of wonder,  sculptures, melody, truth, beauty…….

On and on it goes.

Sometimes I complain, believe me I do!  But with faith and daily prayers, good friends who hold me accountable to truth I can live by, the symphony of music, and an attitude that is growing a little more each day in gratitude, I am discovering that God’s love for me is bigger than any problem or emotion.  I still don’t measure up to my ideal version of myself, but knowing God loves me despite my flaws (many) and forgives me despite my guilt (much) frees me from self-condemnation while at the same time humbles me that He still has even more blessing in store for me.

Faith as a belief is an essential partnership with God which allows you to focus less on you, more on God, less on circumstance, and more on acceptance of what is.  We can ride the wave, go with the flow, and bend like a willow tree.   Faith as a practice is not about appearing or trying to be perfect or fit a stereotype, but to be the real you as God intended in order to be at peace.   Quirky, funny, emotional, deep, driven, ridiculous…..whatever it is, just be YOU so you can get past all that and start tending to the needs of others.

May you step out today in courage and stop fighting that which you can’t control, start changing anything about yourself that you can and know you should, and may you have enough heart to look around and see beauty…..everywhere.  This is the confirmation that God sets in each of our hearts that whispers you too are loved. 

Ready?  One, two, three…..breathe in!  INHALE LOVE.  EXHALE.  GRATITUDE

MORE THOUGHTS ON FAITH AND GRATITUDE:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”   Epicurus

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”  Elizabeth Gilbert “Eat, Pray, Love”

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”  A.A. Milne – “Winnie the Pooh”

 (Quotes from GoodReads)

Coexist w Bono

How do you see the world?  As a place of never-ending beauty?  As a creation of someone or something so magnificent it defies words?  Is it a place of stark reality where evil lurks and people can be so cruel, you question the very existence of God because of the dark rivers coursing through our hearts?

The old cliché of, “Do you see the glass as half empty or do you see it as half full?” seems to be a relevant question today in our world as we hurl towards the point of singularity, blending man’s technology with our humanity.   We’re racing towards the future as we simultaneously entangle man’s evil desires with man’s good intentions to the point with every new technology.  We’re speeding to a place where lines of morality become so blurred,  we find it hard to even define, harder still to recognize that which is good and that which is evil.   All the while, our racing thoughts and fears, and living life at breakneck speed trying to keep up with technology blind us to the beauty that eternally surrounds us.

If I plug into media, I can get worked up pretty quickly about all that ails the world.  WARNING, WARNING—RED ALERT!!  I cry out in futility on Facebook, to the people in my family, to friends who’ll feign interest.   I get worked up over political issues and global issues that I totally have no control of, short of a prayer, and save possibly an occasional vote.

Diversity is so IN these days.  Our diversity of culture, lifestyle, and ethnicity is easy to celebrate.  But diversity of thought?  Religion?  Belief system?  Well, that’s a different matter.  It’s hard to accept others when their belief systems threaten ours, is perceived as evil, or is just plain misunderstood.  We rally for equality and fairness, and yet how can we have either, when we are individually created, complete with independent free will to choose our thoughts and destiny.  We want the world to just get along and live in harmony—as long as it’s our perception of harmony.    Believe as I believe we want to shout from the mountain tops.

We can’t.  I know this to be true just from living in my own family.  I want others to be affected by beauty, by poetry, by music, by nature to the degree that I am affected.  I want them to see the things that can bring me to my knees.  Maybe someday.   Not yet.  We are not on the same page.  It hurts so much sometimes.  We look at the world so differently.

But I anger easily–at injustice, at cruelty, or at anything that threatens my perception of freedom or security for me—or others.  I get so worked up and yet the same family members that miss what blows me away in terms of beauty or magnificence, also carry a peace that all will work out as it should.  Sometimes they live by a faith undefined better than I do with an absolute clearness of what I believe.

It’s so easy to want others to see the world as we see it.  We achieve joy and harmony when others  feel like we do, to quote a great Peter Frampton song.  Bliss. Yeah.  Easier said than done.

Easy in music.  Hard in life.

Maybe that’s why God gave us music.  Art.  Sunrises.  Symphonies.  Babies.  Paintings.  The Ocean.  Sculpture.   Mountains.  Dance.  Kisses in the rain.  Tears.  Pain.  Joy.

We’re like puzzle pieces that interlock, but at only one juncture, not all.  But when we find the one place that fits with one another and as we keep fitting the other side of ourselves with others, together we may solve the mystery of a broken people.   All of our jagged pieces if assembled properly have the potential to coexist.  But only if each individual wants it. 

  We are one.  We are not the same.   Definitely, not the same!  Can you show some love today to someone not like you?  Despite what drives you crazy about their beliefs?  Despite their apathy?  Despite their differences?    Are you courageous enough to attempt coexistence?  Even if you have to go first?

      Is your faith so fragile you can’t tolerate that others choose differently? 

     Is your love conditional and limiting, or is it found in a freedom which renders it limitless?

 

Giulia Muraglia FF

PHOTO CREDIT: GIULIA MURAGLIA

What’s your most treasured memory?  The first moment you met someone you love?  A place you stood?  The beginning of something or someone?  A sight forever memorized by your heart?  Perhaps words that were said, spoken, written, or sung that you can’t get out of your head, even if you try?

Time passes and we want to hold on to special memories.   Our material possessions and even our relationships roll in and out of our life like the tide, and most we let go and don’t even know they are gone until something way off in the future triggers a memory:

  • Oh yeah, I had a stuffed bear like that once
  • I haven’t heard this song in years!  It reminds me of….
  • I remember being here as a kid
  • I remember you…..
  • I couldn’t forget_____ if I tried

I recently took the most amazing vacation with my family.  It was six years in the making and our first and only trip as a complete family since my youngest was born seven years ago.   We saved.    We borrowed.  We coordinated work and school schedules for all.    We saw it all, did it all, ate it all, and savored it all.

Along the way I took the next biggest extension of me, beyond my pen; I brought my camera and lens.  Not just any lens, the best lens, a luxury lens I had rented for my best camera in order to preserve these precious memories for time immemorial.

I clicked.  I clicked again and again.  Every beautiful animal and dreamy landscape.  Every arrangement of family portraits you could imagine. Lots of impromptu stuff too.  All professional looking.  National Geographic doesn’t look this great I thought.

My husband snapped an amazing pic of me with a Great Horned owl swooping above my head as I blinked in awesome wonder as he swooped a silent cool breeze less than inch above my head. I couldn’t wait to see this one later.  I didn’t look now in order to conserve my battery  and to save it for “dessert” after our trip ended.  I took a photo of my young son’s beautiful face softly illuminated by the light of a single birthday candle.  I told my family, this is the BEST photo I’ve ever taken.

I clicked over twelve hundred images.  I had plans to make scrapbooks and a movie of our trip.  Sights, smells, foods, countries, animals, music, architecture—it was all there.  It was dreamy.  It was surreal.  It was to be my concrete reminder of who we were then–in a place called the future.

It was to be my memory when future time becomes unreliable, perhaps even cruel.

I’ve  always viewed pictures as an insurance policy to protect our memory from what our brain invariably experiences:

A slow fade

These pictures were to be my proof that heaven on earth almost exists.

Except that it doesn’t.

On the last night, my camera disappeared.  In a span of less than ten minutes.  It’s possible I misplaced it, but I tend to guard my camera tighter than the Royal Guard watches over the Queen.

Stolen memories.  All of them.

I cried for almost twenty four hours straight.  It was hard watching my family watch me as they grappled to understand why this hit me so hard.  I explained, it wasn’t just the value of the camera, or the fact I can’t get back time and recreate all this.  It’s more.

A part of me was taken too.  Artists are more closely connected to their work than you may think.  You pour your energy and your soul into what you love.  It may only be understood and meaningful to you. Still, it does have meaning.

But this is the twist:  The creation becomes larger than life.  The creation supersedes the creator.

This is the great lie.  All the grandeur and majesty of created things, be it in nature, or be it made by human hands, is not eternal.   Be it castles or mountains or birds or prey or even temporary people like me or even the pictures I snapped away–it doesn’t last.

It all fades away.

We can’t hold on no matter how tightly we try.  No matter how determined we are to remember.  Just like we can’t keep anything we love forever, we also can’t control that which isn’t ours to control.

Yes, I lost all my pictures this week.  I lost my best camera, the one that snapped the first seconds of life of my youngest son.  I lost my digital best friend, my shadow sister who hangs on my shoulder at every significant event.

But I didn’t lose my children.  Oh, how I didn’t lose what I actually love.  We live in world where evil exists and a silent enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy all that we hold dear.   This had to be my perspective as I had no other choice but to move forward–it’s the people in this moment, this sacred moment called now that is all we truly ever have. 

I still  mourn for the loss of precious memories, yes.  But there is something no thief, be it man or time can destroy:

  • My joy.
  •  My appreciation of beauty.
  •  My wanderlust to travel and understand the world way beyond my own.
  •  My love and zest for life.
  •  My compulsion to create and share.  
  • My soul memories.  
  • Me, and all that I love.

I know I won’t remember all the images.  But I will remember the essence of our amazing trip.

Time will pass and people will pass too.  Loss will keep meeting me at the intersection of  “unprepared for this.”   “Not expecting this” will keep colliding with “not yet.”   

Pain will continue to interrupt our plans and knock us out of orbit as we journey through life.

All that is beautiful  and lovely and inspiring and honorable and  good, as well as all that is crushing and cruel and unexpected and difficult will all diminish.

Everything on this side of the veil is a slow fade.  

See the beauty in your mind as you learn to let go in life and allow God to be in charge.

 

As a WordPress.Com blogger, I enjoy participating in the Weekly Photo Challenge.  This week’s theme is Urban.  Well, this scene is about as urban as it gets near the Theatre District in NYC…closer to Off Broadway than “On”. But you get the idea.

But as the current curator and sometime sommelier for u2areloved.com, allow me to submit this pic.  Here’s why!

In every pic, there is a hidden jewel.  And if you know me, or know the band I’m a bit smitten with, then you will see it.   Right there in the middle is Bono and U2 band mates reminding one that:

U2 360 Concert is in NYC on 07/20/11

Because like their song says, “Grace makes beauty out of ugly things.”

Kind of like the theme of this urban photo.

Kind of like the theme I’m trying to express on my site here.

Kind of like what God has done in my lifeHe taught me to see beauty, even in the stark things, the hard things,  this wretched truth of the life we sometimes live.

Show a little LOVE if you LIKE and LIKE the U2areloved blog here!!  Thanks friends.
New blog post coming soon!  Life’s been a bit crazy lately….

u2areloved

Liz

Video:  Bono: A Conversation about Christianity

Who do you follow?  Click on Faces on Facebook, blogs, websites, YouTube, people, pets, places, ideas, or ideologies and chances are there’s a LIKE, SHARE, or FOLLOW button attached to it.

I’m a bit of a U2 fan.  OK, maybe too much so sometimes.  It’s just that I really in truly love their music more than ANYTHING else around.  It’s just me, my personal preferences.  Besides the technical genius of the Edge, the backbone and muscle found in Larry and Adam, you’d have to be fairly unaware in life to not know the lead singer and some say heart of the band is—Bono.  Even that’s debatable because most U2 fans know what makes the band endure through the decades is that each member is absolutely vital to the other.  Bono just happens to be the person in front.

A year ago today I met Bono.  I just happened to be in NYC, a place I’ve only been to three times in my life.  He just happened to be at the Letterman Theater outside my hotel on my last day in NYC.  I didn’t know U2 was in town, even more, just outside my hotel across the street a few feet away.   I found out randomly when I overheard another hotel patron telling her friend that they were in town.

I ran across the street and tried to get Letterman tickets.  I waited in line, interviewed, and didn’t get picked.  I left and did some sightseeing with my adult daughter in Battery Park.   We came back, and I went to the theater one more time where Letterman was filming.  Everyone had showed up.  There were no extra tickets; I was told I didn’t need to stay.  I knew Bono and The Edge were inside.  I wanted to meet them; I wanted to meet Bono!

I was beside myself with excitement. I sort of felt like a cross between the swooning moms who fainted over Elvis during my childhood and young teens who camp out and fast for days for a change to meet “The Bieb-ster”.   I ran back to my hotel to change and brush my hair.  I was determined to find a way.  Then I started calming down.  Then I started crying.  What’s wrong with me?

HE’S ONLY A MAN

Suddenly, there was a fire drill only on our floor.  I had to evacuate anyway.  I thought maybe, just maybe I’d go downstairs one last time and see if anything was going on in the back of the theater around the corner.  God?  What are you trying to tell me?

He’s only a man my child.  He’s definitely not Jesus.  He’s Bono, but at the end of the day, he’s still a man.

I quit running.  I started walking instead.  I told God something important:  I know!

So I surrendered.  If it was meant to be—fine.  If not, I could live with that.  Only four days prior, I had driven from this same hotel to see U2 in Philadelphia.  It was my third and best U2 concert of all.  Don’t be greedy with your blessings Liz!

I got there in the nick of time.  I had a blast and made some quick connections with other U2 fans; or as I sometimes say, “I found MY people!”

The backdoors opened.  Out walked the Edge and then Bono.  Then it happened.  I met Bono!  I wasn’t shaking.  I wasn’t falling down. I was able to speak coherently.   He’s just a man.  But for a brief second in time, I saw his eyes and perhaps he saw mine.  I told him to tell Nelson Mandela Happy Birthday.  I found out later, he was on his way to have lunch with him, but I didn’t know that at the time.  I wasn’t inside the theater when they were taping.  I just knew.  Because sometimes our souls just know.  I knew how close they are, and I remembered the audience singing Happy Birthday to Nelson at Bono’s request four days earlier in Philadelphia.

Then he said what I still refer to as just one word:  Yeah!!!!!

Yeah (YES)!   YES is such an affirmative word.  It may sound cliché, but I knew in my heart that day, it was time for me to start saying yes to pursuing some dreams I’ve carried around for a while.  It was as if God was whispering,

Your dreams can be a reality!  Why do you even doubt?

 Not because I met Bono, but because sometimes God just comes down and blesses you with something amazing, that you didn’t deserve, that you wouldn’t have seen coming in your wildest imagination.

At the end of the day, and the whole of my life, I am a U2 fan to the core, especially Bono.  But I actually follow WHO he follows.  I think that’s why I and millions of other fans connect so deeply.   It’s more than even U2’s great music.  It’s their connection to those that suffer in this world and making us not just aware, but challenging us to do.   To start where you are, and to branch out, that is the key.

Yes I’m a fan of U2, so I’ve hit my fill of LIKE buttons and commented volumes.

But I FOLLOW Christ, not perfectly, but absolutely, and that’s something I really want to SHARE.    Christ forgives, redeems, saves, loves, challenges, and changes us IF we let him.  Only God knows what plans He has for you though we’re guaranteed a few things as we go:  tragedy, triumph, love, loss.  So how do we survive it all?

Love.  Pray.  Hope.  Persevere.  Trust.

I’m many things—a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and a writer.  I’m a fan of U2.  I’m a follower of Jesus—like my brother Paul, we are ONE in Christ. And that’s reason to REJOICE!

NOTE:  I’ve read these quotes.  They can be found in these books, great reads for U2 fans regarding Bono’s views and struggles in his faith walk.

 

 

 

I am going to go way out on a limb here, but hope you will stick with me to the end.  I want to ask you something.

How deep do you want to be loved?

      I’m also going to be unashamedly real in my answer.   THIS MUCH!  No, I take that back, even more!  For fans of U2, this song certainly has such a life of its own and certainly connects with people spiritually—yes, men like it too, not just women.   U2 has said its “goal is soul” and this chart-smasher proves it.

Let me talk about something else though.  Sometimes a person just can’t deliver the goods.  Not your mate; not a rock star, not your best friend, not even yourself, no one!    The thing is we are human, and thus limited by our humanity.

In our most giving capacity, we can’t totally be the very thing that someone else needs or wants from us, or more painful, we are capable, but we willingly hold back.  Yet the most painful of all, is even if we love with all of our soul and being, we still fall short, because of this one simple fact:

We can’t sustain it. Time promises this.

     We can’t sustain the intensity because we are constrained by time; the best moments can’t last.  Those perfect moments in life are also the cruelest because they don’t and can’t last, and some of us chase them until the end of our life, trying to recapture or recreate them in all their significance and magnificence, in the way we perceive beauty.  Yes, sometimes we need it like a drug.

Herein lies love’s curse:  I can’t live—with or without you.

       Hear me right.  This goes beyond sex or friendship or passion or reason.  It cuts right to the core of who we truly are.   It’s the deepest part of our soul that can almost seem misunderstood by others. We can’t even form the words that describe our desire for this love, this way to be loved.

Perhaps the closest word is perfect.  We want perfect love delivered perfectly!  No drama, no conditions, no expectation, just pure and perfect love.  This is the dilemma of our lives as we chase what we never had, what we thought we once had, or fight to maintain what we appear to have (if only to us).

Like the song says, “we give ourselves away.”  Indeed.  We give ourselves away as we work and we live and we do—everyday.  The sands in our hourglass fall a little bit faster each day.  Most of us push ourselves constantly past expectations—both of ourselves and others.  Still, it’s not enough.  In our most satisfied moments, we want just a little bit more.

This weekend I watched a mom and her children I’ve known for years bury their dad and husband.  You didn’t have to be their best friend, to grasp the depth of their loss.  The rawness of their fresh pain ripped everyone.  We all want to do something to spare them from this; we can’t.   It’s because on earth, we can’t keep it.   Either way the best love will eventually be stripped from our open arms or our clenched fingers.  That’s why we don’t need to manipulate, control, trick, smother, beg, or insist for another to love us perfectly.    That only insures us they won’t or can’t.

Believe me my heart struggles with this, but my head knows this:  Another human being can’t love you deep enough or long enough.  There has to be more.

There is.  God steps in.  Yes, God–the be all and end all of the perfect love we crave.  This too is hard, because we’re walking and loving not by sight, but by faith.    We’re walking and loving by truth and promises, not by what we feel.  That’s a heavy thought, but a freeing reality that makes our burdens lighter to carry.

Somewhere in the heart of all us, if we’re honest, is the little boy or little girl who just wants to be held, to be pulled in close, and to be looked in the eye so deeply you can see our heart.  We want affirmation that we are good, we are loveable, and that it is seen by someone bigger than us.

U2, both their music and especially their front man Bono, seem to master this “soul-connect” with people by expanding the invisible thread that connects our hearts to one another.  The truest, ok maybe the sanest, of U2 fans know this:   It’s not about Bono or the band or even the amazing music itself, it’s the love that comes from a higher power, and they’re just fellow travelers like us, mere humans, who allow it to pass through via music, lyrics, and most of all— heart.

Every good song, concert, moment, or relationship concludes.  So what’s left?

God’s love is the cure.  It transcends space and time and imperfection on our part.    We just have to get our head and our heart around it sometimes.  May you travel light, find your song to sing, love people, and live well!

 

For me, I take it on faith that perfect love exists because there is a God, He is good, and He loves us.  There are some of my favorite scriptures on love and faith:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrew 11:1

We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?  Romans 8:24

There is no fear where love exists. Rather, perfect love banishes fear, for fear involves punishment, and the person who lives in fear has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 (ISV)

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.   Ephesians 3:19

Witness Venus In Transit Here:  http://vimeo.com/43563394

Suggested Listening:  “Window in the Skies ‘ — U2  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK_q7tEOPA0

 Dang it!  I missed it.  Do you know what solar phenomenon happened on June 5, 2012 that will not be repeated in our lifetime?    It’s not an amazing meteor shower, or even a comet, such as the beautiful Hale Bopp comet seen all over the world in 1997.    It was the solar event known as Venus in Transit.  Here’s how it played out:  Venus passed directly between the sun and the earth, but appeared as a black dot traversing the length of the sun on a journey just shy of seven hours.  For anyone that would have witnessed this event at an observatory, a museum viewing, or with eyes shielded by welder-grade sunglasses, they would have witnessed a black dot slowly making its way across the sun for approximately seven minutes from their specific location on earth.

 This Transit of Venus happens every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart that part company for about 105.5 and 121.5 years.  Another words, the next paired transit, won’t happen until 2117 and 2125.  This means, we won’t have a chance to witness this phenomenon again, at least not in our resident earthly body.

Wikipedia informs us that this event is both predictable and rare. Predictable in that it has a proven historical track record, but rare in the fact, you have only a two-shot chance of witnessing  this spectacular paired journey eight years apart.  So if you missed it on June 5, 2012 and also June 8, 2004 then you will only see it now courtesy of cyber space, not celestial space.

I’m sorry I missed this because I still remember Hale Bopp, not because of the freakishly strange cult suicides that resulted from its presence, but because like a diamond in the sky, it possessed the quality of brilliance and extreme rareness.  I remember seeing the comet as it blazed across the sky, as a vivid light breaking through the darkness, gently hinting there is so much more here than meets the eye.    Looking up, it appeared to be a window in the sky that alludes to something beyond what our mind can surely grasp.

Strange as it sounds, when I saw it from our front porch, my first thought was how it reminded me of the Polar Express train of children’s  literature—this magical train that breaks through the night, full of excited children, crossing space and time boundaries to deliver more than just Christmas gifts, but the gift of belief!

This I know to be true in life:  There is no such thing as coincidence!  I will repeat that until my dying day.  I am a firm believer that life is not random, but intentional.  We are created to witness some great mysteries and miracles in life, but they will mean little more to us than coincidence without the gift of belief.

I’ve always been enthralled by the mysteries of deep space.  It humbles me, because I know that in the grand spectrum of the universe, my allotted space and time is absolutely microscopic.  Think about this:  Look at all you have witnessed and experienced in your own life, if only up until now:  Moments of rare beauty, moments of extreme pain, birth, loss, dreams, obligations, music, love, oceans, mountains, sky, animals, and people—just a small millionth of all you’ve experienced, endured, heard, tasted, witnessed, and touched.    Considering the vastness of our universe, is it mere privy that you’ve had the luxury of experiencing so much?  You are not like the stationery planets that sit still, changing only on the surface.  You are so much more!

You are like Venus in Transit.  You are given a mind to assimilate knowledge, belief, events, faith, and experience.  Are all these things just random coincidence in your life?  Or will you use it and connect the dots in your life, just as surely as a master Creator has an order for the stars and planets that dot our view of sky?

Venus is named after the Roman goddess Venus that represents love, beauty, fertility, sexuality, prosperity and victory—not much–just the pinnacle of our enjoyable side of human existence.

So when I found out I missed Venus is Transit, as I read old unread emails from my museum memberships this morning, I was more than a little bummed.  You see, witnessing that would have been another event I know I would have categorized as witnessing a miracle:

Love Passes By; The Sun Keeps Watch

For me, I already believe this.  Love passes by.   Bono knows this.  In fact he wrote a book called “On the Move”.  He states that love, and mercy, and God are all on the move.  Love is never static!  It grows legs and walks into adversity and suffering.  It extends arms and hands that provide sustenance, aid, and the potential to hold someone.  Love is a cureBut it is not without cost.   It puts hearts on sleeves and security on the line and makes us give out of what we’re not even sure we possess.     See love knows we’re going to suffer.  It knows we’ll see things we’d rather not.  Love marches forward anyway.

I keep a pocket full of miracles in my head and heart that no person can ever take away.  Though most days I live life with feet planted firmly in terra firma in my town, my heart travels, and in in doing so, it keeps changing.  It’s as though a puppet master is pulling the strings of my feet, arms, and heart, as He says, “Over here, child.  Over here.”  I don’t know if I want to go, or if I’m prepared.  I do and don’t want to go.

But like Venus in Transit, a rare and brilliant love capably pulls my orbit across and around the Son’s light.   I don’t have to know the future or my exact destination as I journey across the universe.  I wish you the same:  Let the power of an eternal and regenerating love and light sustain you as you move through life.

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It’s a beautiful day. Don’t let it get away–Beautiful Day–U2

I’ve had the pleasure of watching both my son and my daughter graduate from high school.  So last night,at dinner, I asked them, my husband, and six year old son a profound question. With the exception of my youngest, who just finished kindergarten, the rest of us whether college educated or self-taught have certainly been at least a part time student at The School of Hard Knocks, a.k.a.  The Real World.    So I asked them this question, with a disclaimer that there would be a “no wrong answer” response from me.  I asked:

       Once you graduate, what is the key to happiness, or living a good life?

 I already had a mental outline prepared with six things I wanted to elaborate on, but let’s start with my family’s advice first:

My husband, father of three, said, “Get a boat.” I asked “What’s the best part of having a boat?”  He replied, “All of it.  Working on it.  Driving it.  Casting your reel off of it.  Skiing behind it.  If it’s a boat; it’s all good”

My oldest son, 24, said, “Sleeping!”  “Elaborate, please!” I replied.   In fewer than 25 words, he somehow conveyed to me, that when you are sleeping, you aren’t stressing, working, or in any number of ways, participating in life’s more difficult moments.  Ah, at such a tender age, he has found the antidote that somewhat cures the stresses of full time work.

My confident and ambitious daughter in college said, “Take responsibility for your life!”    She is strong-willed, independent, and needed no follow up questions from me.

My six year old, yelled out “Cake!!  Yummy, yummy cake!  And lots of it!” as he licked his lips!   He said this because my daughter had just baked a birthday cake for a friend, and he successfully convinced her to let him tag along and enjoy some delicious red velvet cake with her and her friend.  I love this age; he lives totally in the now.  That’s exactly where he found his answer.

I glanced out the door to my three cats who were basking in the setting sun’s light.  Their posture alone conveyed the modus operandi they exist out of:   Don’t worry; be happy!  Bask in the sun’s light as often as possible!

In less than 60 seconds, my family already nailed the points I already had planned to tell you.  I think it’s because these are universal truths.   In case you forget the wisdom from your baccalaureate address, by all means print this, and refer to as needed!

1.      Don’t Miss Your Boat!  Find Something You Love and Work Towards it Every Day 

Find the “boat” of your dreams and work towards it.  It won’t be easy; it requires a ton of work to earn it or build it yourself.  Your dreams and goals are the same way.  It takes years to hone your craft, or master your skills.  Whether you go to college or not, you are responsible for your learning!    But once you earn or build your dreamboat, don’t be afraid to occasionally  step out of it.  You’re going to have to leave your comfort zone, to truly go where you want to go in life.    There will be storms in life, but you can’t avoid navigating the seas, when there are big fish to catch and destinations to reach.  Sail on!

2.   There’s No Such Thing As “You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks”

If you can type reasonably well, are adept at using Google and/or Facebook, then you are already equipped in the art of self-education.  Always keep learning; but know how  to learn independently.  Respect your teachers, but don’t assume you can’t learn what they know without them.  You can.  Supplement your education by reading everything and finding ways to partake in your passions.  You can waste excess hours on social networking sites, or you use your computer as a tool to supplement your education, and the social network as a way to make connections that will increase your opportunities to connect to your passions.  Make it a point to learn something new every day!  Also, when you hear something as fact, don’t assume that it is, especially in the media.  Research it yourself, and find out if it’s true.

3.   Take Responsibility for Your Life.  Don’t blame others, ever, for your choices.  Don’t blame others for their success and your perceived lack of it.  Make your own luck and create your own destiny in such a way, that you’ll inspire others.  Three parts to this are key:

A. Do not let others define you.  When you get to the point, you are not a “people-pleaser”  and don’t require others to hold you in high regard, but can look squarely in the mirror and see a person of integrity, who is trying their hardest, and continues to take the hard steps to reach your goals, you will be successful.  You define your success, not others.  This also means whether you’re a NASA engineer, a stay at home parent,  an artist, or a CEO on Wall Street, you get to pick what success means to you!

B.  Refuse victimhood.    Life is not fair, but you should have mastered that around kindergarten.  Bullies exist.  There’s always someone who has more.  Somebody gets to the top because they had a leg up.  So what?!   You’re taking the honorable route and anything worth having takes time.  But always, refuse to be a victim.  You have the capacity to learn and the capacity to rise above, because that is an internal character trait, not an outward circumstance beyond your control, such as where you come from, or what your financial, educational, or any other status is currently.

C. Make good choices.  Don’t drink and drive, but think and thrive.  As an adult, you are pretty much free to do what you want, legally or even illegally, but only you can determine if the consequences are worth it.  Take risks in the things that will increase your success, not immature or dangerous choices that will diminish it or harm others.

4. Rest! 

With all the learning you’re going to be pouring into that noggin, it’s important to find time to play, relax, and of course rest.  It’s hard in a 24/7 driven world, but find ways to get the rest your body requires.  Everybody is different, but know your optimal number of hours of rest needed and find a way to get it.   Spice up your rest life, and get a hammock!   There’s nothing like a good view, before shutting one’s eyes!

5.  Get plenty of SON light!

Depend not only on yourself.  Seek help from others.  Also, call upon the higher power and the higher law of Grace, given freely by Jesus Christ, to power you not only on difficult days, but on the good ones as well.  Which brings me to my young son’s summary of all the above wisdom:

 6.  Savor sweetness!

Eat dessert first sometimes and forget about the calorie count!    Taste all the good things in life, not just food, but everywhere you look.  Look at life, as though you owned the world’s most expensive camera.  WOW!  What beauty, what amazing grandeur God has put before you; truly a panoramic banquet table awaits you each day.  Allow the things that are good to frame your daily perspective.  Refuse negativity as influence and refuse to be a negative person.  You’ll complain less, if you learn to get over things quickly and move on.

Equally important, where there is injustice, oppression, suffering, hunger, loneliness, sadness, isolation, imprisonment, cruelty, and all the unfair things of this world, will you personally commit to finding a role to play in some of the solution?  Never underestimate the power of one.  You have no idea how big your influence may play a role in those you come in contact with, and when you meet someone who falls in one of the above mentioned categories, will you choose to be involved and lend a helping hand, yourself or an encouraging word, a salve of sweetness?  Value and incorporate kindness, goodness, honesty, and sweetness into your character.

Conclusion:

You could read these sentences and view them in two possible ways:  A whole bunch of clichés, or a whole bunch of truths.  Well, sometimes clichés are true.   Anybody can say it, but do you have what it takes to live it?  I think you do.  You wouldn’t have read it to the end, if you didn’t think you have what it takes.  Lastly, know there will days when you will blow it or feel like a failure in some regard.  Learn from it, attempt to repair it if necessary, and by all means, move on!  Don’t let emotions or feelings dictate your reality, let your positivity, passions, and good choices move you forward from your mistakes.

Whether military service, college, tech school, volunteer service or employment is your next step in life, go forward with boldness, encouragement, and belief in yourself, that you are already more than capable.  Whatever your path, commit to living your life out loud, laughing often, learning always, lying never, and loving deeply.  Do these things and you will truly live.  When you live intentionally, you will find your success and happiness.   Choose to be happy.  Choose to exceed your definition of success.  Choose life, always!

Congratulations Class of 2012!!