Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Giving into Grace

Franciscan scientist and theologian, Ilia Delio, writes that, “We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”

An old boss of mine used to say, “Everything is connected to everything.”

What I breathe in. You breathe in. What I breathe out. You breathe out.

What I do matters to you. And what you do matters to me.

It matters to me that people are treated with dignity and respect. That kindness, compassion and tolerance prevail.

If I beat down my opponents, criticize and condemn those who go about creating their kind of “better world” in ways that do not match my idea of ‘better’, than I am contributing to discord not peace. In my harsh condemnation of another’s way, I am creating an environment where disrespect and intolerance prevail.

And that matters. Because whatever I do, someone else is impacted.

What I do matters.

What you do matters.

How we do what we do matters.

Because everything we do has an impact. It’s circle of influence may be small. It may be large. But it all has an impact. It all has a ripple.

Recently, while out shopping with my daughter and grandson, a man waited at the mall exit and held the door open for us.

It was a small act, but it, created a ripple of gratitude.

And gratitude has a way of passing itself along and becoming bigger.

All things are connected.

Yesterday, his act of grace reminded me of our capacity to be grace-filled in a moment when I really just wanted to be difficult.

I was stuck in a long line of traffic creeping into the downtown core. The left lane was closed ahead and cars were zippering into my lane on the right. As I reached the spot where the construction started, there were no more cars beside me. They’d all managed to slide into the right hand lane.

Except one driver.

He ignored the signs advising people to move into the right lane and drove right up to the construction area, turned on his right hand blinker and tried to edge into the lane.

I was about four cars back. Like the cars in front of me, I thought about making him wait for someone else to let him in. You know, teach him a lesson and all that jazz.

And then I remembered the gratitude I’d felt when the man held the door open for my daughter and me.

I chose to let the driver in.

It was better for my heart and soul.

In giving into grace, I got to free myself from the inner chatter about how the other driver was acting like a jerk. How I’d already let someone in. Yada. Yada. Yada.

All things are connected.

Small things make big waves. When I choose the path of peace and let go of criticizing and condemning, I am contributing to the creation of a more peaceful world.

When I give into grace and choose to create an environment where peace, love and joy fill my heart and soul, my ripple becomes a wave of possibility in the ocean of life all around me.

Namaste.

_______________________________

Photo Source

 

 


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In Love’s Infinite Grace, Life Flows

It’s only Wednesday and already, it feels like a long week.

It happens.

Perhaps it is that yesterday was the 11th of September. A day worth marking. Not just because it’s the birthday of a couple of young women I love, but also because it is what it is. September 11th. A day in 2001 when the world felt like it shifted on its axis. A day when fear and confusion and horror awoke in the heart’s of millions.

I remember the fear. The confusion. The horror.

I choose Love.

And still, the ennui is here.

Perhaps it is just a heavy workload. Or having said goodbye to my daughter and grandson yesterday, my heart is full, and my body is tired.

Emotions come and go. Some weeks feel longer than others. Some situations feel more daunting. Some opportunities more challenging and exciting.

Yet, no matter what is going on, no matter what we’re facing, or doing or experiencing. No matter our elation or our worry, our joy or our sadness, Love is always present.

It’s the thing about life.  No matter how dark the skies or deep the river, Love is always present.

The challenge is, in the midst of chaos, it can be easy to lose sight of Love, to forget that in the midst of everything, Love is always present.

To remember, we need to name what we’re feeling and to also name Love in its midst. It goes like this:

Oh look. Confusion is here. So is Love.

Oh look. There’s my old friend anger. And here’s my greatest companion, Love.

Oh look. Helplessness is present. So is Love.

Oh look. Fear is raising its head. Love is here to ease its burden.

Oh look. Sadness is clouding my skies. Love is lighting my way.

It doesn’t matter what is filling your heart and mind. What is clouding your vision. What is stirring up your emotions. In the midst of everything, remind yourself that while all those things are present, so is Love.

And in Love’s infinite grace, life flows effortlessly.

Namaste.

 

 


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Let compassion be my guide

It can be easy to forget some days that we are all on this journey of life, together.

That my plan may not align with yours.

That your ideas may be different than mine.

Regardless of our point of views, or our goals or aspirations, we are all on this journey of life, together. We all share this one planet, one earth. We all breathe this same air. Bathe in the same waters. Need the same things to sustain our lives.

It can be hard to remember sometimes that just because I disagree with you, it doesn’t give me the right to judge you. To make you bad or wrong. It just makes our opinions different.

My job is to stand true in my beliefs, and to hold that delicate space between us gently and lovingly clear of my desire to make my voice heard louder than yours.

Whatever you do, my responsibility is not to change you. It is to see you. To know you and acknowledge you as you are, not as I’d like you to be. And regardless of what you say, my voice does not matter more. Talking over you will not make me heard more. It just makes both our voices become louder.

We can disagree. We can hold differing positions and points of views.

When we do, how we share our differences is a reflection of where each of us stands and what each of us values.

How I treat you is a reflection of my values and of who I am.

How you act or speak or respond is a reflection of who you are.

I may not agree, but judging you doesn’t make me ‘more right’. It just makes me part of the problem.

Let me not be ‘the problem’ today. Let me be the path to compassion, love and peace.


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Pure Love

When she was a  little girl, my eldest daughter loved to play, Wedding. Inevitably, she would be the bride and some erstwhile young playmate would be her groom. In her childhood fantasies, it was always about the dress and ceremony. The marriage was inconsequential.

As she grew into a woman, those memories of her childhood weddings gave us all cause for laughter until this day, two years ago, when she enacted out her wedding day, and we witnessed the beauty and wonder of Alexis and JM joining together in marriage.

That was two years ago today.

This past weekend, Alexis my eldest daughter, has been visiting with their 7 month old son, TJ. We were celebrating my mother’s 96th birthday, which in and of itself was perfect. To have four generations together. To be together as a family — both my sisters, and both my daughters and the son Alexis and her beautiful husband have brought into this world.

What could be more perfect?

Someone once said, ‘a picture’s worth a thousand words’.  In the English language there is only one word for Love. The Greeks were smart. They had at least four.

And even that doesn’t seem to be enough to describe how my heart feels.

I am beyond words. Beyond emotions. Beyond anything but Love.

Not just for having spent time with my grandson, but also for being witness to the wonder of my eldest daughter as she embraces and embodies the role of ‘mother’.

I am in awe. I am humbled. I am grateful.

She is all that I would have wanted for my grandson. And so much more.  She is pure Love.


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Are you trying to be enlightened? Stop it.

Source: Zen Flash 

Trying to find a Buddha or enlightenment is like trying to grab space. Space has a name but no form. It’s not something you can pick up or put down. And you certainly can’t grab it. Beyond this mind you’ll never see a Buddha. The Buddha is a product of your mind. Why look for a Buddha beyond this mind?

– Bodhidharma ∞ Thich Nhat Hanh Philosophy & Practice

I used to think there was a place to be. A place where on this journey of life I’d know, deep within me, I had arrived.

And once there, I’d never leave.

I’m so human!

I’m learning, there is no such ‘place’. No such “I’ll never leave because here is where I’m awake, aware and conscious. And that’s how I shall always be forever more.”

I have had moments of feeling enlightened. Moments of feeling like, “AHA! This is it. This is what they mean to let go.”

And then, that place moves away. I move on. Life shifts.

I am learning that being where I am, in this moment, is more precious than trying to get to ‘the next’.

That being conscious of what is happening to me and around me right now, is more fulfilling than dreaming of what will be in the moment coming up.

I am learning.

Enlightenment is not a place to be, a thing to achieve or hold onto. It is a way. A way of living in this moment without trying to make this moment count more than the last, or less than the next.

It is a balance. A balance of being real and human. Being present and unaware. Being vulnerable and protected. Setting boundaries. Pushing through them.

It is not letting one or the other override either.

It is letting one and the other exist in this moment, this space, together.

It is claiming my right to be heard, seen, known while honouring with equal respect, everyone else’s right to be heard, seen, known.

It is… being human.

Which means, honouring my capacity to stand up while falling down. To give in while holding out. To hold on while letting go.

It means embracing the contradictions while holding firm to certainty.

Speaking truth while making space for other’s truth to be spoken knowing, there is truth in all things yet all things are not true.

It means, not striving to be anyone or anything other than who I am in this moment. Right now. Knowing, this moment right now will not last forever.

I used to think I had to get somewhere to know I’d arrived.

I’ve learned that what I know is nothing compared to what I don’t know.

And that’s okay. Because in the duality of knowing what I don’t know, I am learning that being where I am is the best place to be for me to see the possibilities of where I can go when I let go of believing I have to get somewhere else to be who I am.

Namaste.

______________________________________

Photo and Quote Source:  Zenflash


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Ruminations of a misty morning

Silently, it rolled in from the west, snaking up the river valley, a soft gauzy blanket of white obscuring all that it enveloped.

I watched its approach. My eyes straining to see through its ethereal nature.

This is the way of falling asleep. The way of losing sight of clarity, of all that is real and true in life.

I watched the fog roll in and remembered a time when I lived within its depths. When my world felt like I was breathing shallowly in the marshmallow stickiness of lies and deceit that encompassed my entire being.

Those were the days when I was lost in dreams of shortcuts to happiness. When I believed in happily-ever-after.

And then I awoke to the dark and unforgiving truth that I was lost on the road to hell.

Frightened and trapped in my fear, I could not breathe deeply. I could not see my hands in front of my face, or feel my feet on the earth.

Terrified I would never find myself again, I became lost in a world of hopelessness.

And then, the fog lifted and I could see the world around me. I could feel my hands touching my face, my feet touching the earth.

Found again, I breathe deeply as the mist rolls in.

There is beauty in the mist gently undulating along the river valley.

The beauty is not in losing sight of the world but in knowing, no matter what the weather outside, I am safe, here, in this place where I stand in the eye of my truth. In this place, what happened then is nothing compared to what I am creating in my life today, day by day, standing true in me, myself and I.

We all get lost on the road of life. We all lose our way. Whether for a day, a month, a year or years, it does not have to be forever.

We can awaken.

We can step out of the mist. We can claim our place in the centre of our world.

For me, it took a miracle and a deep desire to seek forgiveness, to be forgiven and to forgive. It took believing that I was worthy or more than abuse and lies and deceit. It took believing that I am worthy of Love. Of self. Of others. It took believing I am worthy of life.

This morning, I watched the mist roll in and remembered the wonder and awe of being alive.

This morning, I watched the mist snaking up the river valley and saw the beauty of its gentle nature caressing the trees that line the water’s edge. In its memory I saw the beauty of my world today and gave thanks.

I am so blessed.

 


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Are you awake and sleeping?

Have you ever noticed how you can drive somewhere and when you get to your destination, you hardly remember how you got there?

It’s as if you’re on autopilot and getting to where you were going was more an accident of nature than an intentional activity on your part.

Too often, we can go through life like that. Unplugged from our senses and awareness, we keep putting one foot in front of the other without stopping to savour each footstep, each breath, each moment.

To become fully aware in the moment of being means to be completely present.

And it’s hard to be completely present when operating on autopilot.

Ask yourself… Am I fully aware in this moment of the world around me? Am I feeling, sensing, experiencing everything?

If your answer is… well kind of. Or, a bit. Or, not at all…

Stop. Breathe. Open your eyes. Expand your heart with each breath in. Feel each breath nourishing your entire body.

Consciously tell yourself, “I breathe in Life. I breathe out Love.” “I breathe in Life. I breathe out Love.”

My experience is that often, when I am just going through the motions of my life, it is because I’ve allowed myself to fall asleep while awake. I’ve let automatic become my modus operandi.

It takes a conscious effort to come back into myself and into my world.

When I do, the beauty and wonder around me abounds with inspiration, every moment flowing with creativity.

Suddenly, a flower is not just a flower, it’s a thing of beauty and grace inspiring me to dance in the sun.

The sky is not just a sky, it is a soaring blanket of possibility calling me to rise above negative thinking into limitless creativity.

The air is not just, ‘the air I breathe.’ It is my life-support, a gift of the universe that sustains and nourishes and feeds me life, inviting me to let go of gravity and soar with my dreams.

It can be easy in our day-to-day living to forget we are creatures of immense possibilities. That we are born magnificent, whole, complete.

In those moments of forgetfulness, when autopilot takes over and we coast along without thought of how we’re moving through this world, it is possible to forget our dreams and our unlimited capacity to make them come true.

Just for today, stay conscious of each moment.

Stop. Breathe. Consciously open your eyes and heart. Consciously let yourself become present to this moment, right now. Let yourself walk feeling the muscles of your body moving your limbs, the air entering your lungs, the gentle touch of the breeze caressing your face.

Just for today, let this moment inspire you to fall totally, completely, whole-heartedly in Love with you and your life and everyone and everything in it.

Just for today, LIVE this moment as your inspiration to be In Love.