Monday, July 23, 2012

Growing the Good

Is there a reason why bad things in life happen? When the garden of our lives are full of abundance, why do they sometimes get plundered?

We search for meaning in the tough parts of life.  We have a desire to know why a tragedy happened, why we lost a job, a home or a loved one. Our efforts are spend figuring out why as an individual, a community, or a nation has suffered a loss. 

In those moments of trouble, if we know we have not been doing all we could to prevent the trouble in the first place, hopefully we can see where we could have changed course and we can take steps to correct our paths in the future.  But when we are moving along, doing what we should, when we should, and why we should - that is a different story. 

Life is suddenly changes.  The smooth soil of our existence is suddenly overturned, with it taking the things that we have worked so hard to grow in the gardens of our life.  Our happiness is shaken and battered.  Our home life can be uprooted.  Our sense of security and ability to see forward to brighter days can be buried underneath, hidden by the darkness of all that has fallen upon it.  We try and try to till the soil, to bring it back to it's normal state.  We look for remedy and reason, but the garden just does not go back to what it was before the trials hit. 

The garden of life gets overturned  and plundered for so many.  We may know the person or the tool used. We may even know the reason why the person or tool was used. But we struggle to find a reason why it was OUR lives that were a part of the reaping. 

However, what often gets planted after the bad things in life offers hope. Compassion and understanding from ourselves to others and from others to us, become the seeds of new life. With the water of patience and the sunlight of care, seedlings emerge and a new and different abundance fills our soil.  The garden can flourish and thrive again. And in time, the garden returns.

The reason why it was our garden my never be answered. But, goodness and kindness that others and ourselves are willing and compelled to give to those who are suffering offers hope, faith and a sense of security.  It plants the seeds that allow life to continue on, differently than before, but with the ability to once again be abundant. From the destruction and darkness the garden springs back to life, and it is Growing the Good.

Monday, July 9, 2012


A brilliant scholar by the name of Dr. Michael J. Hyde wrote of the concept of home. 

Home is a place where the door is open, we are free to be ourselves in a safe place, and a place where dialog, connection, peace and rest can happen. Dr. Hyde's concept of home is not necessarily defined as a physical space, but as a state of being. Home does not have to be confined within four physical walls, but within the space created by having relationship and community with another person. Of course Dr. Hyde's description goes much deeper than these few descriptive lines, but even this brief description can have a profound effect on how we understand the idea of creating a home.

If we apply this idea of home to ourselves and our own experiences, we can see the impact it has a bit clearer.

Whether this home is an actual structure or simply metaphorical, we have all probably had an experience with feeling at home. We have joined a group, entered a home, stepped into an organization, or encountered a single person that we feel at ease with. Conversation is easy and honest. Guards are let down. We feel like we belong and that we are welcome. There have also been times that we felt like an invited guest into someone else's space. Small groups, co-workers, or individuals allow us to be there, but the boundary between us and them is never quite breached. It often feels awkward, frustrating, and tiring as the space never truly becomes mutual space- it belongs to them and we are a guest in it.

As moms, parents, caretakers or people that have an influence in other's lives, we are continually creating or potentially demolishing "homes".

Certainly every interaction that we have with others does not require us to put out the welcome mat, prepare a feast, and offer out our space for others to stay in. But, with each interaction, we give a glimpse of what our home is and how we create it. Some of our interactions will be a calling to others to step over our threshold at our invite, have a seat on a comfy couch, enjoy a nice cup o' java, and feel like they belong. Other interactions could be like an unexpected appearance to a party where the un-invited guest is let in out of courtesy, but sits in the hard wooden chair in the corner - being nothing but a guest and an observer of the party. As the master of the house, we can be the difference between another feeling like a guest, or feeling like they are home.

We each have a choice on whether to create an inviting space or not. We have personal boundaries that affect who we open the door for and who we do not. Although it is a choice, sometimes it is a responsibility - and not always an easy one to fulfill.

So how do we create a "home space" that invites others in?

1. Listen - Take the time to not just hear the words that others are saying, but truly listen. That means to take an interest in what they are saying and realize the importance that those words have to the other. Don't spend the time you are hearing them crafting a response to them.

2. Don't Judge - Each person has a back story to their lives that has created who they are, how they think, and how they interact. Usually, we have more in common than we know. When we judge them, we are really judging ourselves.

3. Set Aside Our Own Agenda - Truly be in the interaction to have connection with the person for who they are - not for what they can do for us. Think of the connection as unconditional.

4. Extend the Invitation - Most people don't like to impose, even when it comes to simply starting a friendship or a conversation. Extend the invitation through a conversation, a genuine question or common interest. If they fail to RSVP, send the invite again and leave it open ended. If and when they are ready, they will join you.

When was the last time you were made to feel at home?

Have you ever been called to create that for someone else?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Just A Few More Steps!

Do you ever feel like just giving up?

Some days seem so long and so tedious.  Our day to day duties and responsibilities stretch the hours, the minutes, the moments into a seemingly uphill eternity.  We get lost in the tiredness, the mundane, the never ending list of things to do. Our energy is sapped, our will is tested, and our desire to just push through is all but gone. Throw in crisis, trouble, or just a mere kink in our plans, and we feel that we will never see the top of the hill and get to see the beauty of the accomplishment that lies at the summit.

This is exactly the time that we need to dig deep, find our will and pull from that little hidden bit of energy that every woman - every mom has hidden insider her.  We need to draw on that one last fuse that we know is just waiting to be lit, that will propel us forward and upward.  With that little bit of spark, we can make it to the top of the hill.  If we keep our mind set on not how much further we have to go, but how far we have already come, our perspective shifts.  We find the bit of gusto we need to continue on just a bit more.

Hang in there, you're almost there. It's just a few more steps to the top!