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 Online Dating

Dear Friend,

Trying to be spiritual as you navigate the waters of online dating can be very very difficult. I know you want to try to be open minded and understanding of all people, but sometimes it’s hard not to judge people’s profiles.  Online dating is set up, so one judges on a split second decision. We do this in real face to face meetings too, but at least we have the added dimension of using our senses and hearts to really get a feel for another.  However, it is very easy to totally shut down your mind towards someone, when seeing a totally ridiculous photo profile or strange cryptic description of someone’s mating habits.

Here are some basic suggestions to go through online dating and still practice some spiritual principles:

  1. If you’re a praying sort, which I know you are, then pray for the people you are looking at; yes, pray for even the ones with extreme close up photo profiles that makes you cringe.  If you don’t feel like praying for them, use the Buddhist approach and wish loving-kindess (metta) towards them.  But remember to first start with yourself and wish yourself metta by using common phrases like “May I be happy.  May I be healthy.  May I be at peace.  May I be free from suffer.  May I stay away from the crazies.”  🙂  The last metta phrase can be deleted or be repeated many times over…and then wish metta towards each person you encounter as you navigate through the online world.  “May you be happy.  May you be health…”and etc.
  2. Keep an open mind.  First impressions are important, but scroll through all their pictures and read all the words they took time to write.  Take deep breaths as you browse through their profile, and give them a chance even when they post pictures of their ex next to them.  Forgive them…pity them even.  They must be still suffering deeply from the break up.
  3. Please be extra tolerant of overworked, and over functioning single parents who post lazy pictures of selfies in their car with their kids in the back.  These parents have probably been running all the day, without any real alone time…and probably not at their best.
  4. Give people who are separated or divorced a chance, but be extra mindful of the ones who are simply trying to rebound.  If you notice a wedding band on most of their profile pictures, it’s probably a safe bet not to go out with this person.
  5. Have fun and be honest.  Put yourself out their, and remember we’re all trying to find a genuine connection of some sort.  Some people just find the need to lie to find the very thing they are looking for, which never really works out well.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful, if not mildly amusing.  In my experience, suggestion 1 and 5 have been the most helpful in staying sane as I navigate the mine field that is online dating.  I hope you know that my prayers are with you, and I hope you find what you seek.  Just remember that there is a loving God that already loves you, and that you are whole and complete just as you.  But I totally understand the desire share life with someone else.  However, love is not like the movies, it involves accepting all their gifts and weaknesses.

In the Light,

Your Friend

 

 

 

 

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

Merry Cristmas

Merry Christmas Eve!

This post is a departure from my regular content, but I just wanted to thank all the people reading my posts, following and commenting.  I am so grateful to be part of this blogging community, and to find renewed motivation to keep writing and create visual art. 

오뎅국 (Odeng-guk)

I am blessed to visit my parents in NC. My mother made me 오뎅국 (Odeng-guk: fishcake soup) for breakfast this morning.  My comfort food of choice is homemade home cooked Korean food, and also good Southern cookin’.

My daughter and I at a Christmas party

I won’t be posting on Christmas Day, but I wanted to wish happy advent season and Christmas for those in the Christian tradition and happy holidays to all.  

My daughter is away with her momma visiting their family in FL, but I am blessed to be surrounded by my family and friends as we get through first year of major holidays coparenting.  

Thanks again to all the readers and writers who share their thoughts, art, and experiences. May you be held in the Light of a loving Higher Power. To my Buddhist friends, much metta and peace. May you be healthy, happy, and free from suffering.

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 

a poem for those going through difficulty 

the sun

the sun 

glows warmly 

even in 

cold days 

shining hope

My own personal difficulty this year has been going through separation and divorce. I have been able to talk about it freely with some people in my circle, but not everyone I know.  My experience has been that life is not an either or, but a both and.  Even this year, I have been able experience wide spectrum of human feelings and emotions, some days I am sad and few moments later laughing and so grateful I can enjoy moments with my 2 year old daughter.

Slowly, but surely, I am experiencing fun again in my life. My divorce is in its final stages and I am just waiting for the judge to sign the paperwork.  It’s been a journey to let go and let God, even with this. I am embracing hope and trying not to live in resentments or fear.  Today, I am grateful to experience love and support from all around me, because I had the courage to be honest and ask for help when I needed.  Also, sharing my own journey and my difficulties has allowed others to share their struggles and how they have made it to the other side. I hope each of you keep trusting and walking through the dark, even when things seem so bleak. I am here to say that there’s hope.