Renewal

How do you forgive and let go? (Artwork kindly contributed by Melissa De Silva.)

We wrote down things we wanted to let go of, actions to forgive by ourselves and others, then quietly witnessed each other burn the pieces of paper. Two friends and I did this the last time we met to discuss our experiment to live as though this is our last year. We are revisiting our lives with the lens of gratitude, forgiveness and apology. That takes longer than one meeting but this is a snapshot of that journey…

The act of forgiving was not done then for me. It was done earlier, in my heart. The burning just helped in letting go in a fuller way…

I made mental notes of the lessons I had gained from each of those acts when each piece of paper was burnt; the lessons were like gems turning up, shining more brightly than the fire…this was what mattered…what we had learnt and how we could grow…

Then we each picked a card from the Virtues Card app randomly…I received the card of “Understanding”, which spoke to me alot…here it is… 

My Virtues Card pick brought me Understanding.

Our time together felt cleansing, felt hopeful and felt like renewal….

How do you create opportunities for renewal? If you revisited your life, who’s there to be grateful to, forgive and apologise to?

Related: Forgiveness

Video: A New Hope for Peace

Mattie and Jeni Stepanek - messengers for peace

This is an inspiring TEDxTeen talk by Jeni Stepanek, mother of the late Mattie Stepanek, poet, philosopher and peace-maker who died from muscular dystrophy.

Some highlights…

….Within reality, there’s still the choice of your attitude… how you think and speak and act…and how you reflect your realities back out into the world…

…Hope is real. Peace is possible. Life is worthy…

A heartsong is our unique gift…our reason for being, whatever it is that we need, what we want most for ourselves in the world…we understand why that matters…that’s what we’re called to offer to others… 

We know hope best not when life is going well but when we’re going through some burden…when there’s suffering…when there’s some storm in our life…hope isn’t simply a positive attitude or wishful thinking…denying the facts…hope is very real because hope is an attitude..an attitude is always our choice…

…Peace begins within each one of us when we’re ok with who we are as a person… 

…We must find ways to share peace with people we don’t know, people we may not like, people we disagree with but who have basic needs just like us…

Every story matters…Mattie’s story was about peace, faith and hope. What about yours?

Related: Peace Poem + Help Needed

Questions that Matter

We often mean well when we ask, “How was your day?” Yet this question may not yield answers that can deepen our communication or connection with someone in a way that is fulfilling.

So here are some questions from various sources that provide inspiration for what we could ask, not just others but ourselves:

Where today was I inspired by something or someone?

Where today was I surprised?

Where today did I find myself challenged or stretched to grow or think in new ways?

Where today was I touched or deeply moved by something that came into my life?

These are called the Four Rivers of Life, from a beautiful book I recommend, “Living in Balance” by Joel and Michelle Levy.

There’s also a Japanese practice called Naiken which suggests these questions:

What have I received from…? 

What I have given to…..?

What troubles and difficulties have I caused….?

Naikan is a Japanese word which means “inside looking” or “introspection”. It is a structured method of self-reflection. (More at http://www.todoinstitute.org/index.html.)

And here’s more:

How did I/you use my strengths today?

What do I/you celebrate in myself/yourself or others today?

And my favourite is…

What am I grateful for?

Of course, asking the questions is one thing and listening is another. Will save more of that for another post. For now, let’s try and provide a safe space and listen compassionately and non-judgementally so people can speak from their heart. Let’s celebrate when someone is sharing something joyful. Poor listening can mean people may be less reluctant to open up next time.

The most important person to ask these questions to is ourselves. Let’s extend ourselves the same compassionate and conscious listening. :)

Hope for our World translations

Mattie, Jeni and Micah on Larry King Live, spreading the message of peace and hope

Dear Friends,

In March I had appealed to you to help translate a peace poem, “Hope for the World”, by the late Mattie Stepanek.  Amber Sawyer, a reader and friend, mobilised her contacts to translate and we submitted translations in Chinese, Tamil, Hindi, Gujarati, French and Malay to Mattie’s mum, Jeni.

Huge gratitude to Amber, Kanya Kanchana, Sujata Cowlagi, Jocelyne Girard, Padma Navaratnam, New Fang Fang, Rachel Neo, Govind Cowlagi and Hayati Suaidi for enabling this poem to reach more people around the world.

Mattie’s new website is complete and the translations have been posted! So if the poem speaks to you, please send it on, use it in class/place of worship/at home in a language that is useful for your community.

Mattie inspires me because despite his illness and struggles, his didn’t become embittered about life. His resilience, hope and optimism shone through. He inspires me because he believed that to have peace in the world, we need to practise it in our lives, moment to moment. We can learn much from him.

Watch Jeni speak about Mattie’s life

Peace, Vadivu

—-

Here’s the poem again:

FOR OUR WORLD

We need to stop.
Just stop.
Stop for a moment…
Before anybody
Says or does anything
That may hurt anyone else.
We need to be silent.
Just silent.
Silent for a moment…
Before we forever lose
The blessing of songs
That grow in our hearts.
We need to notice.
Just notice.
Notice for a moment…
Before the future slips away
Into ashes and dust of humility.
Stop, be silent, and notice…
In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts
To nurture, to offer, to accept.
We need to be.
Just be.
Be for a moment…
Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting,
Like children and lambs,
Never judging or vengeful
Like the judging and vengeful.
And now, let us pray,
Differently, yet together,
Before there is no earth, no life,
No chance for peace.

Mattie J.T. Stepanek ©
September 11, 2001

Hope Through Heartsongs
Hyperion, 2002
Just Peace: A Message of Hope
Andrews McMeel, 2006