Your Search For Meaning

thousand points of light
Photo credit: Richard Laeton: https://richard-laeton.pixels.com/

If you are too young to have experienced George W. Bush as your president, I hope the week’s reflections of his life will give you inspiration to find a way to be of service as a new wave of a “Thousand Points of Life.” If you are old enough to have lived under his presidency, I hope you will see the broader picture of his life and how he transformed a major loss into a greater sense of purpose for himself which he expanded to include the rest of us.

As President Bush was fighting literal war battles on many fronts during his tenure, he also formulated a vision for service to provide meaning to our time-limited inhabitancy on Earth. Concurrently, many civilian society leaders in business, church and academia were contributing to the theme of President Bush through speeches, sermons and books.

In 1994, a year after President Bush’s presidency, the book “The Search for Meaning” was released. Authored by Thomas Naylor, William Willimon, and Magdalena Naylor, the book poses questions based on the premise if you were stranded alone on an island, could you still find meaning in your existence even without connection with others?

The professional backgrounds of the three authors represent the broad domains of our lives: economic, spiritual, and emotional. Throughout the book they weave a series of questions to assist the reader in self-reflection on how to come to grips with individual purpose.

The 10 questions the three experts developed for self exploration are:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Where am I going?
  3. How can I prevent my life from being a series of accidents?
  4. What do I want to be when I grow up?
  5. How shall I overcome my separation from others, myself, and the ground of my being?
  6. What shall I do to resist the temptation to have?
  7. How does one learn how to be?
  8. Can I find meaningful employment?
  9. Is it possible to experience real community?
  10. How can I die happy?

President Bush in many ways is the embodiment of the answer to these questions.

“We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a thousand points of light … we all have something to give.” President George H.W. Bush

Love and light to you today as you live out your meaning and reward by naturally allowing the light of you to shine forth.

 

 

 

 

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Find the courage to give up what was lost

keysI misplaced — or lost — my keys, despite my ever-so-good intention to slow down and be careful.

Misplacing keys is common for me. Metaphorically, perhaps I’m afraid of unlocking closed doors to find only skeletons are on the other side. Practically, misplacing my keys causes loss of time and increased distress and anxiety. My distress is even greater when I make a commitment to be ever-so-careful of keeping up with my keys. I even made this commitment out loud to a friend this holiday weekend because I had more stress than usual. How did this happen, I ask myself. I was so careful. I PAID ATTENTION to my stress.

Like in the story of Franz Kafka and the lost doll, I console myself with his sentiment of “everything you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end love will return in a different form.”

love and lossWhen I’ve lost keys, love did return to me in a different form — it came through as Grace. Sheepishly, I admit my fallibility of losing a tool which helps me be productive. I’ve reported to two employers my carelessness with their property. Each time, the reaction has been, “by when do you need a new set of keys?”

Whew! No pink slip pushed under the locked door. Instead they understood that people make mistakes and I’m a people.

I have been like the widow in the parable of the lost coin. During Biblical times, married Jewish women wore coins as adornments and to keep intimate track of them. I have worn my keys on lanyards around my neck. Even with this personal connection, the widow lost one of her coins, and I have lost my keys. The widow swept and dusted her home until she found her coin. I retraced my steps and, oftentimes, my keys are exactly where I had left them. But not this set.

What about the times when I give up the keys for lost? My limited vision, memory, and mind blinds me from finding what is lost. This is symbolic of how I have had family members lost to various manifestations of illness. They became lost in their illness and so I became blinded by the illness and so lost sight of the person caught up in the illness. In the same way, I become so caught up in finding lost keys, I lose track of myself. Yet, God knows where the lost item or person is. I do not need to count the number of hairs on my head. God already has undertaken this task. God knows where the lost keys are and God sees the person who is lost in their obsession — whether it’s finding keys or finding their whatever.

When something has been irretrievably lost or lost for so long that the time it is taking to find it interferes with getting on with life, then I need to see a different solution. When my keys are replaced, they will be a shinier version. Sometimes healing an illness means shedding old ways, such as bad habits. God wants us to shed what we’ve outgrown.

I haven’t found the keys I lost this week, but I did happen to find the keys I lost a few years ago when I was cleaning out a closet. And when I look at these keys now, I see that like a snake that has outgrown its skin, I no longer need the keys or the doors they unlocked.

snake skin

What will you learn by doing?

“You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so you learn to love God and man by loving. Begin as a mere apprentice and the very power of love will lead you on to become a  master of the art.” Francis de Sales

frances de salesYou learn to write a blog by blogging. You learn to sell by selling. You learn to account by accounting. You learn to counsel by counseling.

You can read any number of books or websites to learn strategies for improving your performance but the real learning comes when you actually do the work. And when you make a mistake–and you will–don’t get discouraged, keep going. A year from now, you likely won’t remember the mistake. And if a year from now you still remember the mistake, then you will have had a deep and life-changing learning which will help you develop humility and keep you teachable.

Steven Pressfield offers a free five-audio lesson on the “artist’s inner battle,” based on his book The War of Art. Listen to it, but then take a risk and practice what your “wild and precious life” is calling you to do.

women in hat

Inches and seconds may be the only intervention

wabi sabi

For the past month,  I’ve been co-facilitating a free weekly support group for people who were affected by last year’s Hurricane Harvey. Group members recount stories of how they were rescued and the achingly slow process of rebuilding their homes because of bureaucratic red tape.

The purpose of the support group is to help participants develop a self-care routine that will help them calm down their nervous system that has been agitated because of severe stress. Losing your home because of flood waters, tends to make people anxious depressed and overwhelmed.

My co-facilitator and I were meeting at Starbucks on Monday morning to determine the approach we wanted to take at our next session. She was ignoring her husband’s phone call but because of his persistence, she took it.  He reported that her brother had been in a car accident and he was being transported by ambulance to the hospital. The anxiety and panic rose on her face and it was time to end our coffee meeting. Before she left, though, I asked her if I could pray for her. So I clutched her hands and asked God and the guardian angels to watch over her brother and doctors.

Later that day, she reported her brother was lucky. He was driving his truck and not the car, so he had the bulk of protection he needed to survive the impact of being rear-ended and thrust into the next three lanes of traffic. He was being released with minor injuries, but injuries unexpected and unplanned for on a November Monday.

Inches and seconds are often times all that stand between us and an eternally altered existence. Life continues to unfold and it doesn’t mete justice out according to who has already endured what or how charitable of a person you are. Seemingly random events interfere with our plans for the day or our life and we are forced to make adjustments.

Within an hour, life unfolded in a way for which we weren’t prepared. We expand and contract through the seasons of life as it forces events on us. If we practice it enough when life is calm, though, we will automatically remember to breathe when the day’s events are chaotic and unexpected.

 

Finding God in your Galilee

“He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” Matthew 28:7

When I think about traveling and someone has gone ahead and arrived first they take care of details that I don’t have to. If we are staying at a hotel, they register us in. They learn where the best restaurants are so we can have a good meal. They’ve had time to survey the surroundings. So, if I call them while I am on the road they can warn me about road construction and detours along the route. Their care of the details makes the journey easier.

Today, you may have a number of interactions in unfamiliar territory–new sales calls to make, interviews to conduct, groups to lead. There may be details you wish someone else would take care of.  If so, I hope you will ask whoever your understanding of a Higher Power is to go ahead of you and take care of those details. It may make the journey of the day easier.

Love and light,

Brenda

Sea-of-Galilee

 

Have you forgiven or forgotten it?

willie nelson

You had a disagreement with another person and in your mind you forgave. You were able to forgive them because you ended your relationship with them. But did you really forgive them or did you just forget them?

The answer to that question will be revealed next time you unexpectedly run into them in a location you weren’t prepared for, such as your local grocery store. If your heart jumps and your stomach feels anxious, then the injury of the conflict hasn’t subsided and, frankly, you focused on the forgetting but not the forgiving.

So what do you do when you come across that person?

Here are some options, not all of them recommended.

1. Turn around and pretend you didn’t see them.

2. Take your shopping cart and bang into the back of their legs pretending you didn’t see them.

3. Walk by them as if they were invisible and pretend you didn’t see them, or

4. See them.

As uncomfortable as it could be, facing a person who injured you is a response coming from a stance of self-empowerment. Avoiding them or lashing out at them will reinforce for you that you were on the losing end of the conflict. Instead, take a deep breath, open your eyes, and see the person in front of you. What you discover might surprise you about them and yourself.

Now, for the awkward moment. Does seeing them include speaking? Maybe. But on your terms and not theirs. You can say hello, or nod your head and give a small smile (but not the smirk smile) and keep walking. If they initiate a conversation, such as, “how are you?” say, “I’m great!”  (You are great, so be honest about it!)

So. the moment has passed and you SAW them, what do you do next to FORGIVE them?

Here are some steps that may help you with the process of forgiveness.
buddha forgiveness prayer
1. Write the person a letter stating exactly what they did that hurt you.

Journaling is a therapeutic process which can help you “read your own mind.” Journaling does not have to be limited to words. Incorporating art or other visual modes are just as effective in processing your feelings. (Do not send that person the letter, but it might help to read it to another supportive person who can keep a confidence.)

2. Pray and meditate on the concept of forgiveness.

Sometimes, we can’t pray for that person, but we can start the process by quieting the thoughts that racket around like they are on a handball court by focusing on the theme of forgiveness.

3. When you are ready to move to the next stage, pray for good things for yourself and that person. Some people will leave out the part about praying for good things for themselves, but you deserve good things, too.

This action is empowering because it gives you control. When you start, you don’t have to be sincere (and you probably won’t be sincere), but over time you may find yourself hoping each of you receive the gift of a great life. After all, hurting people hurt others.

4. Understand, the role of forgiveness isn’t to change that person as change may never happen, but it is there to heal you and give you a better quality of life.

Even if the other person tried to steal your quality life in a long ago incident, they don’t have to keep stealing it.

© 2018 Brenda Henning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear corrodes you; here’s how to stop it

image-from-rawpixel-id-421916-jpegIn the oil industry, rust build-up destroys pipes. The speed at which rust spreads depends on how reactive the pipe is to its environment. Corrosion specialists counteract rust and a pipeline’s natural environmental influences by depositing coating chemicals and shooting electric currents through the main pipe and re-directing the destruction to a secondary sacrificial metal.

Fear can be as corroding to your body as is rust is to metal piping. It feels like a million jumping Mexican beans in your stomach and your shoulders sag from the buildup of it. The environment of your mind influences the spread of panic, depending on many factors. Today, you can choose to detach yourself from highly charged emotional environments, which can mitigate some of the flow of anxiety. You may be in the environment, but you can choose to not take anything personally, even it it’s meant personally.

Should you realize your thoughts floating, shooting and wandering and untethered to places and people flung far from your body, you can bring your body back to now.  You can use your breath to coat yourself and prevent the build up of more fear.  In and out, in and out, you can consciously redirect your ionic attention and thoughts to the energy held in your shoulders and stomach.

image-from-rawpixel-id-418597-jpegThe life force of your breath can  redirect and expel the corroding fear from your  lungs and nose and into the Universe. The Universe, though, sacrifices nothing with its absorption of your breath. Instead it can take your highly charged energy and expands itself by creating more galaxies.

© 2018 Brenda Henning

 

 

 

Remember to Breathe

Breathe Deeply
In the photo a beach in Zanzibar at sunset where there is an inscription on the sand “Breathe Deeply”.

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7 NIV)

Remember to breathe.

In the Creation Story, the first burst of energy Human Kind experienced from God was the breath.
Focus on your breath today and know it is the essence of the original Breath of God. As you walk on your path today, every breath in and every breath out can be a connection to God’s infinite, soothing peace.
Remember to breathe.
© 2018 Brenda Henning