A letter about the true measure of self worth 

Dear Friend,

I know I have been silent for a while. I was away to spend some time in silence and solitude. But you are ever iny thoughts and prayers. You wrote to me that you feel like that you do not measure up to your own expectations, expectations of your parents and your peers.

I know the pressures to succeed are immense now days at any age, but especially for a young person trying to find their way. I know for me, sometimes the hardest critic was myself. I always judged myself based on my thoughts, and today I judge myself based on my actions.

If you set your life on principles set by a loving God, then you will be able to hold your head high no matter what others thinks or even what you may initially think of yourself. Sometimes the thoughts my brain generate of myself is not my best friend, it tells me lies based on fear, self pity or pride.

However, today I strive to take right actions despite my brain telling me to not do a thing, or someone else will do it. True measure comes  in acting upon higher principles instead of listening to fleeting thoughts or feelings. It is daily choice of choosing of rigorous honesty and willingness to open your heart to unknown possibilities.  Be guided my friend by a greater love instead listening to thoughts of doubt or self-hate. You are worth of love. Our true Measure comes from our capacity to love and be loved with the fullness of our hearts.

In the Light,

Your Friend on this Journey of Life

Lenten Reflection: Jesus that Laughs

Painted in 2011, eunsung kim

 “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” Luke 6:21.

 As a boy growing up in the church, the Season of Lent was always a serious time.  A time to roll up your sleeves and really delve into your faith, and commit to deepening my faith with God.  Somewhere along the way, I picked up message that being a follower of Christ means being austere and serious, I make a sacrifice to give up things that are holding me from fully trusting in God.  While, some of the messages I picked up as a child about faith was true; a lot of my journey of deepening my faith in God has been to discard old ideas, and be willing to experience a God, beyond my limited understanding, here and now midst my own joys and sufferings.

I always thought Jesus was so serious, but I now imagine him being someone with profound joy and capacity for laughter that cuts through the heart of the matter.  My own experience has been that often the folks that have experienced the most profound suffering and sorrow have a great capacity to love, and to embrace moments of joy when they appear in our lives.  When Christ tells us that “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh;” Jesus is not only speaking to us who grieve and journey through loss, but his blessing includes himself.  Jesus knows firsthand what it is like to carry deep sorrow, and pain; we too feel overwhelmed and burdened by the responsibility of life, and walk sometimes with very heavy steps.

However, Jesus kept moving forward, even though he knew where the road would lead him.  He continued to do the work of the Father, kept teaching his often thick headed disciples, and kept on loving the people in his life.  Jesus touched, healed, laughed, cried, and shared life with the lepers, the forgotten, and despised people of his time and culture.

We do not have to weep, because our journey does not end in the cross.  We believe in a Risen Christ, and know in our hearts joyful tears knowing Christ has risen, and our weeping can truly be transformed into joyous laughter.  It is hard in the midst of grief to see what lies ahead, but remember friends you are not alone, Jesus who knows your inner most pain walks with you.

 Prayer

O Jesus, be with us as we walk through the joys and pains of life.  May our weeping be transformed into laughter: a deep knowing laughter of your strength and love.  Amen.

A Letter about Being Sucessful

Dear Friend,

You asked me how to be successful in the spiritual life; my answer is to that you must fail time and time again. Failure on the spiritual path teaches us that we that truly grow out of our own power, and we cannot walk this path alone. We grow in community, and we need others to show us how to pick up the pieces once more when our lives become shattered and broken. In our weakness, we learn that we need God’s love to sustain us and to help us grow.

I know that you shy away from Scripture, but yet you love the Beatitudes: 

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! (Luke 6:20-22). 

You told me once that these words call you to walk a humble path, and ask of you to live in a state of willingness, honesty and open mindedness.  To be successful in the spiritual life is to know that life dedicated to self leads to a dead end because we will always crave more. You strive to follow the path of the Buddha, but even he saw that life filled with glorifying self leads to futility:

Those who are selfish suffer here and hereafter; they suffer in both worlds from the results of their own actions. But those who are selfless rejoice here and rejoice heresfter. They rejoice in both worlds from the results.of their actions. (Dhammapada 1:15-16)

A life dedicated to spiritual principles and helping others gives us a deeper purpose and meaning that is beyond any worldly success.  I strive to love God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength and with all your mind; and love my neighbor as myself. You strive to live by the path of the Buddha, who dedicated his life to teaching others so they may also be free from suffering. Both paths lead us to be successful by allowing higher principles to guide our thoughts and actions. 

I hope this letter finds you well. I will hold you in my prayers. I am grateful to be on this path with you.

In the Light,

Your Fellow Traveller  

A Letter about Real Strength 

(The World According to Mister Rogers: important Things to Remember)

Dear Friend,

I hope my words find you at a time, where it may encourage you to be more at home within yourself. You wrote to me that you have been struggling with loneliness, and you shared how you thought being overwhelmed by an emotion was a sign of weakness.

I relate to your sentiments, and for a long time I also thought feeling deeply was a sign of weakness.  I think this is especially of men, but true in some ways across gender. We are taught early on to value thinking, mental capacities, and rewarded for academic achievement.

 How better the world would be if we were encouraged navigate through emotions and taught emotional intelligence. It’s ok that sometimes you are overwhelmed with feelings, why helps me is to sit with my feelings and breathe deeply. I try to welcome it instead of resisting it. Sometimes I am hit with an overpowering negative feelings that lead me to anger, despair, and a case of f%<! this s*^!. In these cases, I try to breathe, pray to a power greater than me for help, and try to turn my thoughts to someone else.

A wise man once said “Real strength has to do with helping others.” In my experience, when I am honest about my own struggles and befriend my weaknesses, the more useful I am to God and others.  I know you are struggling with believing in a Higher Power, but you don’t need to be a theist to know that helping others through mutual vulnerability allows for amazing things to happen.  When our walls are down, we are able to meet heart to heart; we are no longer pretending to be strong, but allowing ourselves to be seen and known as we truly are.  

I know sometimes it feels scary. My suggestion to you is to breathe deeply, relax and take it easy. Wise people have repeatedly told me “this too shall pass.” Our feelings can overwhelm and sometimes be scary, but remember that you are not just your thoughts or even your feelings. I try on most days to judge myself on my actions instead of the crazy thoughts and feelings floating through me. Whether I feel good or bad, I always full deep sense of peace and purpose, when instead of focusing on myself and my life I reach out and help someone else.

May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be at peace. May you be free from suffering.
In the Light,

Your Friend and Fellow Traveller 

A Letter about Anger

Dear Friend,

A wise man, Frank Oz, once said while holding a green puppet, “Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate, and hate leads to the dark side of the force.” There’s a whole array of wisdom sayings of Yoda, but I digress.

I am writing to you address your questions about anger.  You told me that you were asking me if you are unspiritual to feel anger, and somehow it was wrong?  My friend, you and I are both human beings, and anger is part of the human spectrum of emotions.  I love the words of Yoda, but I disagree.  Anger does not always lead to hate, it’s what we do with it that counts.  Buddhists talk about working with what’s coming up inside of you, and this too has been my experience.

Anger is often uncomfortable, and it can lead to a lot of actions that lead to suffering of self and others.  But there are instances where anger channeled into positive actions has lead to personal and social change.  The anger we feel when someone is treated unjustly is not bad.

Yoda/Frank Oz is correct in that often, fear often leads to anger, and anger can lead to hate.  Once we start hating, it is hard to come back from the darkness that surrounds in hating others.  We stop being open minded and willing to see a person as person, when we start hating on people.

It takes a lot of skill and experience to work with anger well.  In honesty, I really struggle with letting fear turn into hot anger.  Fear of not getting what I want, or someone taking away something or someone I love.  In those instances, I have found taking a pause or sitting with the anger instead of stewing in it helpful; the difference being that when I sit with anger I breathe deeply and pray for guidance on seeing the situation or person who made me angry in a different way.  I don’t always do this well, but there are times I was able to pause when agitated and reacted in a more gentle and wise way.  I have never experienced any true good from reacting out of anger, it always seems to cause me, and the other person deep pain.

Learning to accept difficult people in our lives with mercy and compassion is not an easy way of living.  So my friend, I suggest that you and I both try to make friends with our anger, and examine the underlying fear behind it.  I pray that the Divine Light within you will shine, and you let your life speak even when you are angry.

In the Light,

EunSung

A Poem for Calm and Peace in the Midst of Chaos

“Inner Peace” (10w poem)

even in the midst of chaos

my heart is calm

————

Dear Friend,

I wish I could tell you that your   life will always calm and peaceful, but that would be a lie.  My own experience that the storms of life always comes, but if I ground myself with a strong spiritual foundation then I am more apt to navigate the chaos of life with more calm and ease.

One of my favorite writers and fellow former L’Arche member, Henri Nouwen wrote: 

“A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself us.”

I find the willingness to stay when things get very difficult challenging, my first instinct is to run. However, looking back, most of my growth has happened because I stayed and lived with change and kept my heart open even in the midst of chaos.

As a chaplain, I have been able to accompany people when their world falls apart. The calm and peace I maintain comes from my own trust in a loving Divine Presence. Quakers believe that there is that of God in everyone, and instead of just telling people about what we believe, we are encouraged to “let our lives speak.” I love silence both in community and alone, and I try to nurture my soul through centering prayer and meditation, because I can’t give away what I don’t have.

Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun and teacher, suggests that:

“The next time there’s no ground to stand on, don’t consider it an obstacle. Consider it a remarkable stroke of luck. We have no ground to stand on, and at the same time it could soften and inspire us. Finally, after all these years, we could grow up. As Trungpa Rinpoche once said, the best mantra is ‘OM–grow up–svaha.'”  ( from “Three Methods of Working with Chaos)

So don’t run, but embrace the obstacles and storms in your life and fully live into them. Sometimes the calm and peace finds you, even when everything is falling apart around you.

In the Light,

Your Friend Admist the Storm

via https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/calm/

Letters about Sadness

Self Portrait: the blues

Dear Friend,

I know you are lost in your sadness, and your heart is hurting right now. Everything in your bones is telling you that this pain you feel will never go away. I am here with you, and instead of telling you not to wallow in your pain I will simply let you know that you are not alone.

I too know what it’s like to have heartache, but I say that not to lessen your pain or even to say our pain is the same, because it’s not.  Each pain and ache is different, and as you travel down the depths of sadness I will be here waiting for you.  I pray that a loving God of your understanding travels with you and guide you safely to the world you are trying so hard to be in, even though it feels like you are sleep walking.

Time takes time, and please I hope you do not fight laughter and joy returning to your life, when you start awakening to life again.  I thought I would be numb forever, and somehow slowly my heart started remawakening to each day.  Sometimes I still cry, but I laugh a lot too. Don’t forget you are not alone, and I’ll be here waiting as you make the journey back home to your heart.

In the Light,

A fellow traveler