A Monk’s Story
A monk was walking through the woods. As he enjoyed the scenery, a thought occurred to him: If on some other day, in the midst of his usual routine, he were swept away and placed up close to the trunk of one these massive trees, he wouldn’t understand what it was. He’d have to step back to see that it was a tree to appreciate its beauty.
The monk realized that God is similar to that tree. God could be so close to us, and by stepping back, we’d recognize that God was there the entire time.
Sometimes we are in need of answers. By stepping back from our search for it, we may find that the answer was right next us all along.
Prayer for Inner Peace
Lord, help me cultivate peace within myself. I am so prone to create chaos, which only leads to panic, and ultimately, confusion, and fear. And, in this confusion and fear, I freeze myself from action.
I find myself stuck, and this only creates more fear, panic and confusion. I know I have peace within because you are within. Lord, help me to embrace you. Help me to embrace my peace within and have the courage to act. Amen.
Blinded By Fear
So often I find myself fretting, worrying, anxious, afraid, asking God: “Am I where I’m supposed to be?” “Am I on the right track?” “Are you there?” Looking, searching out there, outside myself, for an answer for affirmation.
But, then there’s a flicker of a thought, an unsettling, but wonderful thought: Maybe these very fears, anxieties and panicked questions are themselves the very scales over my eyes that blind me to the possibilities that I’m where I’m supposed to be; that the answers I seek are not ‘out there,’ but within me, and that there’s no right path but only my path.
So I begin to consider that maybe the better prayer would not be the one filled with anxious questions, but rather one of request: God help me not be so anxious; help me to always see the potential you see in me.
What Actions are Most Excellent?
What actions are most excellent?
To gladden the heart of a human being.
To feed the hungry.
To help the afflicted.
To lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful.
To remove the wrongs of the injured.
That person is the most beloved of God who does most good to God’s creatures.
Crossing the Threshold
Many times today I will cross over a threshold.
I hope I’ll catch a few of those times.
I need to remember that my life is, in fact,
a continuous series of thresholds:
from one moment to the next,
from one thought to the next,
from one action to the next.
Help me appreciate how awesome this is.
How many are the chances to be really alive
to be aware of the enormous dimension
we live within.
On the threshold, the entire past
and the endless future rush
to meet one another.
They take hold of each other and laugh.
They are so happy to discover themselves
in the awareness of a human creature.
On the threshold, the present breaks all boundaries.
It is a convergence, a fellowship with all time and space.
We find You there.
And we are found by You there.
Help me cross into the present moment—
into wonder, into Your grace:
that "now-place," where we all are,
unfolding as Your life moment by moment.
Let me live on the threshold as threshold.
Be patient with everyone, but above all, with yourself. Do not be disheartened by your imperfections, but always rise up with fresh courage. How are we to be patient in dealing with our neighbor’s faults if we are impatient in dealing with our own? They who are fretted by their own failings will not be correct them.
All profitable correction comes from a calm and peaceful mind.
Once upon a time, there were three bricklayers.
When asked, “What are you doing?” the first bricklayer replied:
“I’m laying bricks.”
The second bricklayer was asked the same question. He answered:
“I’m putting up a wall.”
The third bricklayer, when asked the question “What are you doing?” responded, with pride in his voice: “I’m building a cathedral.”
If you search for this story online you’ll find different interpretations of the stories meaning, most including some sort of explanation about how the tale speaks to a person’s attitude and ability to see the big picture.
While these things are true and insightful, this story makes me wonder: Why do some companies have an overwhelming amount of cathedral builders? Then on the other hand, why do other businesses seem to only contain hordes of bricklayers?
There’s no question that a person’s individual perspective—attitude, ability to see the big picture, etc.–is crucial. But, the importance of the culture that individual is “IN” is often highly underestimated—even though a cultural explanation explains this conundrum much better.
Let me explain.
If there is a “we” component to our work—if there’s something about the collective group that makes us either better or worse as individuals—then this story isn’t just about a person’s mindset. It’s also very much about the culture surrounding the person.
As leaders we have very little control over how other people think. But if there’s something about the environment a person is in, which creates either more or less meaning in their work, then leaders are on the hook for something different.
A work environment—unlike a person’s mentality — is something a leader has a HUGE amount of control over.
So then the next question is: As a leader, how do I create more cathedral builders in this hospital? By building a better work environment.
Once we start asking that question, we’re headed in the right direction.
The journey before me appears daunting.
It stretches out beyond my ability to see.
The first step is slow to come…I pray it will come.
I adjust my gaze from the endless beyond to the ground before me.
The insight dawns, “This is the only step I can take. I can’t walk ‘out there’ today.”
My sense of despair lightens ever so slightly and I find I am one step further along.
Maintain the Capacity to Forgive
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
You May Encounter Many Defeats
You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.
We Change Things
I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I’m supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I’m praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.
Making the World Better
Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness—kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.
Honor Other People's Path
There is no "right" way to grow. See what is beautiful in every person's path, in every religion, and in every belief system. Honor other people's pahts, even if they are different from yours. Be inclusive and loving, and look beyond the form of people's beliefs to the essence. There is no right way; there is only the way that is right for you.
People are Often Unreasonable
People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway, because in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Build a Better World
You can’t build a better world without improving the individuals. We must work on improving ourselves, and at the same time, share a responsibility for all humanity. Our duty is to aid those to whom we think we can be the most useful.
Any Task in Life is Easier if…
Any task in life is easier if we approach it with the “one at a time” attitude.
To cite a whimsical saying: “If you chase two rabbits, both of them will escape.” No one is adequate to do everything all at once. We have to select what is important, what is possible, and begin where we are with what we have.
If we begin and if we keep going, the weight, the worry, the doubt will begin to lift. We can’t always do everything, but we can do something now. As Plato said, “The beginning is the most important part.”
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.
Who Our Hearts Beat For
The older you get, the more you realize that it isn’t about the material things, or pride or ego. It’s about our hearts and who they beat for.
There Comes a Day
There comes a day when you realize turning the page is the best feeling in the world, because you realize there is so much more to the book than the page you were stuck on.
Everyone Has a Story to Tell
Everyone has a story to tell, a lesson to teach, and wisdom to share. Life is a beautiful masterpiece bound together by your experiences. Open up and share your story; become an inspiration to others. You can make a difference because you matter. You were created with purpose. Live your life with intention, go out there and make a difference by being the difference.
With an Open Heart
I've learned that whenever I decide something with and open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone.
People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn. I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Based on Our Choices
Everything you do is based on the choices you make. You can't blame it on your parents, past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument, or your age. You are responsible for every decision and choice you make.
It Is In the Stillness
We live in a world that encourages us to push ourselves past our physical and emotional limits. In our fast-paced world, we have forgotten how to be still.
It is in the stillness, we heal and replenish.
It is in the stillness, we connect with our intuitive voice.
It is in the stillness, we connect with our spirit.
It is in the stillness, we connect with our higher self.
It is in the stillness, we connect with our God.
Some call it intuition.
Some call it the Holy Spirit.
Some call it God's voice.
Some call it the still small voice within.
It is in the voice of wisdom where the answers lie.
Your body, mind, and spirit need something from you. It needs to tell you something. You must be still to hear it.
Remind Us, Open Our Hearts
Heavenly Father, help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked a nine-hour shift that day, and is rushing home to cook dinner, do the laundry, and spend a few precious moments with her children.
Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can't make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student balancing his apprehension over final exams and fearing he won’t receive his student loans next semester.
Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum begging for money in the same spot every day (who really should get a job) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.
Help us remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year they go shopping together.
Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest is love. It’s not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. We should open our hearts, not just to who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge, be quick to forgive, and show patience, empathy and love.
Humanity is Indivisible
When former Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek found out he’d be awarded the Peace Prize of the Association of German Publishers in 1985 for his efforts in reconciling Arabs and Jews, he chose Manfred Rommel, mayor of Stuttgart, Germany and son of General Erwin Rommel, to present him the prize.
Upon accepting the prize, Kollek said, “Who would have imagined that the Field Marshal’s son and I would meet in the peaceful profession of being mayors? Isn’t that a symbol of peace—our theme here tonight?”
In the face of fanaticism and intolerance, there is a need for a deep belief in humanistic Jewishness: treat all people with the same respect and in the same manner.
This isn’t always recognized, especially among groups who only think of themselves and overlook the interests of others. According to Jewish belief, however, humanity is indivisible.
Humility: accepting ourselves and others just as we are—with limitations, vulnerabilities, and imperfections included—as equally valuable and beloved by God without having to prove our worth by what we accomplish, what we own, or what we do right.
Humility is about slipping underneath judgements by which we limit ourselves and one another to love and act fearlessly with power and authority.
What is This Storm Trying to Tell You?
In life, we think the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem. The real truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together for a time, then they fall back apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that.
Personal discovery and growth come from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
Suffering comes from wishing things were different. Misery is self-inflicted. When we are expecting the "ideal" to overcome the "actual" or need things, people or places to be different for us so we can then be happy.
Let the hard things in life break you. Let them affect you. Let them change you. Let these hard moments inform you. Let pain be your teacher.
Your life’s experiences are trying to tell you something about yourself. Don't cop out on that. Don't run away and hide under your covers. Lean into it.
What is the lesson in this wind? What is this storm trying to tell you? What will you learn if you face it with courage, with full honesty and lean into it?
These Roses under My Window
These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones. They are for what the are; they exist with God today.
There is no time to them, There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower, there is no more; in the leafless root, there is no less.
Its nature is satisfies, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike. There is no time to it. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future.
He cannot be happy and strong until he, too, lives with nature in the present, above time.
If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
By dissecting this poem, we discover:
Different Drums, Different Drummers
If I don’t want what you want, please don’t tell me I am wrong.
If I believe differently than you, at least pause before you correct my view. If my emotion is less or more than yours, given the same circumstances, don’t ask me to feel more or less than you.
If I act, or fail to act, in a manner of your design for action, let me be.
I’m not asking you to understand me—that will only come when you stop trying to change me into a copy of you.
I may be your spouse, your parent, your child, or your colleague. If you allow me my own wants, or emotions, or beliefs, or actions, you must open yourself so that someday, my ways won’t seem so wrong, and might finally appear to you as right —for me.
To put up with me is the first step to understanding me. Not that you embrace my ways as right for you, but that you are no longer irritated or disappointed with me for my seeming waywardness. By understanding me, you might come to prize my differences from you, and instead of trying to change me, you’ll preserve and nurture those differences.
The Best Day of Your Life
The best day of your life is the day your decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses; no one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours; it's an amazing journey, and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.
Often we speak about love as if it were a feeling. But if we wait for a feeling of love before loving someone, we may never learn to love well. The feeling of love is beautiful and life-giving, but our lovingness cannot be based in that feeling.
To love is to think, speak, and act because we are infinitely loved by God and called to make that love visible in this world.
Mostly we know what the loving thing to do is. When we "do" love, even if others do not respond with love, we will discover that our feelings catch up with our acts.
Thoughts Become Words...
Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become words.
Keep your words positive, because your words become your behaviors.
Keep your behaviors positive, because you behaviors become your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.
The Process of Meeting Problems
...it is in this while process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. Because of these problems, we grow mentally and spiritually. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems, we grow mentally and spiritually. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn.
The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.
Keep taking the steps that will get you closer to a career you love.
In Life We Do Things
In life we do things. Some we wish we had never done. Some we wish we could replay a million times in our heads. But, they make us who we are, and in the end, they shape every detail about us.
If we were to reserve any of them, we wouldn't be the same person. So, just live, make mistakes. Have wonderful memories. But, never second guess who you are, where you have been, and most importantly where you're going.
Peace Begins with a Smile
The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service; the fruit of service is peace. Let us have love and compassion.
Peace begins with a smile. Smile five times a day at someone you don’t want to smile at; do it for peace. Let us radiate the peace of God so His light can extinguish all hatred.
If we have no peace, it’s because we have forgotten that we belong to each other, that every man, woman, and child is my brother or sister. If everyone could see the image of God in his neighbor, do you think we’d still be seeking peace?
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32 ESV
When I was a kid, my mom often cooked breakfast for dinner. One night, after a long, hard day at work, she served my dad a plate of eggs, sausage, and burned biscuits.
I was surprised at his reaction. My dad reached for his biscuit, smiled at my mom and asked me, “How was your day at school?” I don't remember how I responded, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that ugly burned biscuit. He ate every bit of that thing—without making a face or uttering a word about it!
After we finished eating, my mom apologized to my dad for burning the biscuits. I'll never forget what he said: "Honey, I love burned biscuits every now and then."
Later that night, as I kissed Daddy good night, I asked him if he really liked burned biscuits. He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your mom put in a hard day at work today and she's tired. And besides—a little burned biscuit never hurt anyone!"
As I've grown older, I've thought about that many times. Though I am not perfect, I’ve learned the importance of accepting each other’s faults. Celebrating each other’s differences is a key to a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.
We could extend this to any relationship. In fact, understanding is the base of any relationship, be it a husband and wife, parent and child, or between friends.
My prayer for you today is to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at God’s feet. In the end, He's the only one who can give you a relationship where a burned biscuit isn't a deal-breaker!
Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket—keep it in your own. So, please pass me a burned biscuit.
Things That Frustrate You
May God give you perspective on the things that frustrate you. May your heart grow with compassion toward those who suffer in unimaginable ways.
May you pray as passionately for them as you do for yourself. May God protect you from a small, selfish mindset. May he fill you with thanksgiving and joy. May he renew your resolve to be a grateful, humble soul. And, may he use you tomorrow in ways that surprise you and bless you.
Eyes to See
Pray to have eyes that see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses faith in God.