Gratitude in the storm…

2014-05-24 Town Lake

“Now we step into today – open armed and open hearted. Every morning is something new, something unbroken, something curious and full of the rare and radiant. This is not a cliché; it is just simply true. Courage is not about being fearless, it is about loving so much you’ll brave what is hard or scary. Have courage, love this life and this morning. Your heart was broken open not apart.” — Carrie Newcomer

These words have been my daily meditation of late; something to hold on to.  A reminder to look for gratitude — to seek out the rare and radiant.

I had plans to spend the day with Pippin and my camera–I needed a day of quiet reflection…a day of peace. The skies were cloudy when I awoke and as I began to gather my hiking gear it became clear that the odds of getting stuck out in a thunderstorm were high.  In the end I scrapped those plans and headed out to the Town Lake Hike and Bike trail to get Pippin and I some exercise and some time with nature.  The sky was threatening so the camera would have to stay behind.  Undaunted, as Austinites can be, the parking lot under Mopac was jammed–everyone had the same idea.   Quiet reflection…not likely.  There were people everywhere, runners with their dogs; some pushing baby strollers; bikes rolling by.

Nevertheless, I found a sense of peace in the boats gliding quietly by on the lake; the steady rhythm of the kayakers and stand up paddlers on the water.  The sky was dark; the air thick with a cool wind — a rumble of thunder in the distance.  We walked some; ran some; listening to the birds in the trees around us.

At my faith community we have been doing a series on the power that God gives to us.  Truth be told, I haven’t been feeling very powerful lately.  And yet, being out in nature–seeing the power of nature as a storm brews gave me hope that I can find that power in myself.

As we ran the last half-mile stretch to the truck the wind was whipping the trees in earnest; giant raindrops splashing on my face.  We made it to the truck and I put Pippin in, grabbed my phone and ran out onto the bridge to snap a couple of shots of the storm coming in.  As I got back in the skies opened; bringing healing rain to this land that has been dry for so long.

2014-05-26 Town Lake Storm_02

I am grateful for this day; grateful to live in this beautiful city where the chance to be in nature is all around me.  The blessed rain is still coming down as I type this and I am thankful.

Namaste…

2014-05-26 Town Lake Storm_01

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On imagining peace…

Pedernales Falls 8-24-13 073

“Imagine all the people,
Living life in peace”

–John Lennon


Today, September 21, 2013 was International Day of Peace.  In 2002 the UN General Assembly officially declared that September 21st would be the permanent annual date for the initiative.  I confess that I’ve been aware that there was an International Day of Peace but I didn’t know that it was September 21st.  I’ve usually become aware of it after the fact by seeing something about it on Facebook or the news.  Today was no different; my friend Melissa shared John Lennon’s, “Imagine” in honor of the day.  Melissa’s an early riser so thankfully, it was one of the first things I saw when I woke up this morning.

For the first time I started doing some research on the day.  In the process I came across an organization called Peace One Day, founded in 1999 by filmmaker Jeremy Gilley.  It was through the efforts of Peace One Day that the International Day of Peace was enacted.  Their goal is to institutionalize  September 21st into a self-sustaining, global day of unity; a day of intercultural cooperation on a scale that humanity has never known. 

Sounds like a pretty lofty goal, doesn’t it?  They’ve already done amazing things, working with the UN in Afghanistan on a campaign that has resulted in the Taliban allowing health care workers into areas that were previously unreachable to vaccinate millions of children against polio.  In 2008 the UN recorded a 70% reduction in violent incidences in Afghanistan on Peace Day.  They have raised awareness — in 2012 approximately 280 million people in 198 countries were aware of Peace Day.  That’s only 4% of the world’s population  — what could happen if that number was doubled?  Tripled?  The goal is 3 billion people by 2016. 

In this day and time it often feels like the world’s gone crazy but I have to believe there is hope for peace.  If an area of the world like Afghanistan can experience a 70% reduction of violence for a day because of this initiative, what can happen with greater awareness?  What can happen if we all try to act more peacefully for a day, a week, a month, a year?  Maybe that’s a crazy dream but I’m grateful for those in my life and for organizations like Peace One Day who share that dream.  Imagine…

Peace One Day isn’t just about reducing violence in war-ridden areas of the world.  It’s about reducing violence in our communities, our schools, our homes.  It’s about living in a world where children are not bullied, women are not abused, guns are not used to perpetrate violence.  The theme in 2013 for Peace One Day is “Who Will You Make Peace With?”  To me, it’s a choice.  My choice.  So, I’m asking myself that question…for today, tomorrow and into the next 12 months until International Peace Day comes around again.  I have it on my calendar now and I thank my friend Melissa for making me aware.

I believe that we are called to love…it’s hard and I do it very imperfectly.   So, if I believe that, I also have to believe that peace is an extension of that love… I may do that imperfectly too but if it’s true that what I focus on grows, and I believe it is, there is hope for me and for the world.

Peace to you and yours…namaste