28 June 2016
each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the
drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the
influences of each.
people who say you are not facing
reality actually mean that you are
not facing their idea of reality.
must accept finite disappointment,
but we must never lose infinite hope.
Luther King, Jr.
in the unsaid, for the silence of people is nearer the truth
than their words.
What we hold in our hearts for others is the way
we'll act toward them. A hard heart makes
for hard judgments; a compassionate heart
understands the humanity of the one we presume
Compassion for the other comes out of our
ability to accept ourselves. Until we
realize both our own weaknesses and our own
privileges, we can never tolerate lack of status
and depth of weakness in the other.
The self-righteous hate themselves for their own
weaknesses and so they despise them in
others. That's why those who claim to be
virtuous fall so much further, so much harder,
than others when they fall. A touch of
compassion for others along the way would surely
soften the fall, as fall we shall--sooner or
Compassion is the ability to understand how
difficult it is for people to be the best of
what they want to be at all times.
Life buffets us at our best. That's why
the hand of one who understands our efforts, our
errors, becomes the bridge that carries us over
the failures of life. . . .
"My feeling is that there is nothing in
life but refraining from hurting others, and
confronting those that are sad," Olive
Schreiner wrote. The idea deserves
thought. Imagine a world where
"rugged individualism" and
"natural corrections in the market
place" gave way to "refraining from
hurting the others and comforting those who are
sad." National compassion would
surely mean no more street people. No more
children with nowhere to go. No more
hungry people in the richest country in the
world. More welfare for the poor as well
as for the rich.
Compassion is the virtue that opens heaven to
us. It is what makes us most like
God. Everyone suffers in life.
Compassion is that quality in another that makes
it possible for us to survive it.
Compassion makes no distinction between friends
and enemies, neighbors and outsiders,
compatriots and foreigners. Compassion is
the gate to human community.
Compassion is not sympathy. Compassion is
mercy. It is a commitment to take
responsibility for the suffering of others. . .
It's one thing to do good; it's another thing to
be good. It's possible, perhaps, to do
good simply out of principle, but it's
impossible to really be good that way--not
if goodness is a quality of the heart and not
simply an exercise of the will.
with Our Souls highlights a key
Bible passage and offers brief
reflections for each of the twelve key
qualities of the soul that are essential
to deeper living. Each chapter
deals with a different quality of the
soul-- for example, vision, compassion,
humility, faith--that speaks to the core
of one's spiritual practice and inspires
people behind the words
and excerpts - Daily
Two - Year Three
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prayer, in an effort to help you to figure out just where to
focus your energy and attention when life is being difficult for
you. Use the link to the left for the Kindle edition, or click
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Read more about the book here.
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The Fine Art of Keeping Perspective
It's true in painting and it's true in life: How
things look depends on the way you see them. And
both a well-received painting and a fulfilling life depend
upon keeping a true perspective.
I worked recently on a painting that challenged and
inspired me. It is a view of the Golden Gate bridge,
depicted from across the bay. In the foreground,
gentle waves curl. The beautiful bridge curves
gracefully into the distance over the surging waters of
the bay, with the sparkling city beyond.
It's a beautiful scene. It took my breath when I
first looked at the bridge from that particular
angle. And my ability to paint it depended on how I
managed the complex perspective required. The waves
in the foreground needed to appear larger than those next
to the bridge. The relative distance between the
girders needed to be just right to convince the eye of the
shape and curve of the bridge. The water in between
needed to sparkle and draw the eye toward the bridge,
which is the focus of the painting, and on to the distant
city. To pull that painting off, I needed to look
with an alert, unprejudiced eye and then employ all my
energy and artistic skill to reproduce what my artistic
perspective is both a viewpoint and a technique.
Perspective is the lens and angle from which the painter
views the world of the painting, and it is also a set of
skills that enable the artist to paint that world
When I reproduce those perceptions on canvas, I am able to
create a landscape that seems three-dimensional and
real. With perspective, I can bring the painting to
Perspective also allows me to shape the reality of a
painting, to change the world subtly, to achieve my goals
as an artist. I can emphasize certain elements,
minimize others, even add or subtract items, using my
perspective skills to work these elements into a
believable and, I hope, beautiful whole.
And yes, this applies to perspective in life as well as in
painting. Our perspective or viewpoint involves the
way we look at life. But our perspective also shapes
If I am looking at life through a perspective of gratitude
and hope, for instance, I will live and think differently
than if my view was one of bitterness and anger. The
same is true of the way I look at myself. If I
maintain a balanced perspective on me--honestly
recognizing my flaws and shortcomings, honestly
appreciating my gifts and talents--I will live
accordingly, and this balanced view will shape my life. .
In my experience, however, perspective is prone to
slippage. When I am working too hard, when I let my
ambition get the best of me or allow my schedule to be
overloaded, my perspective easily becomes skewed.
When I'm not getting enough sleep or eating right or
keeping my spiritual life in tune, my perspective can get
warped. I lose touch with who I really am and with
what is important in my life. And those are the
times when I begin majoring on minors, sweating the small
stuff, taking my frustrations out on others. Those
are the times when my daily tasks seem difficult, the
people in my life seem unreasonable, when I take
myself entirely too seriously.
Fortunately, I usually know what to do to get my
perspective back in line. I have quite a collection
of artist's tools that help me keep my perspective true in
my paintings. And I have discovered some
perspective-preserving techniques that help in my life as
Quiet time and solitude are vital to helping me keep
perspective. I consider myself fortunate to have so
much quiet built into my profession. I spend long
hours by myself at my easel. And while I work, I
think--of the future, of my loved ones, of God's goodness
and the many exciting opportunities that surround
me. I ponder the challenges I face, the needs of
others, the direction my life is going.
As my thoughts unfold, forming and reforming to the rhythm
of my brushwork, something else often happens as
well. Quietly, almost unnoticeably, the wisdom and
guidance of God will begin to settle on my active mind
like gently falling snow on a busy street. That's
why I like to think of these moments of quiet reflection
as a form of prayer. Because they open up my mind
and spirit to God's presence, they are doubly important in
helping me keep my perspective true.
As vital as quiet time is, however, I find it hard to
maintain a balanced perspective without input from other
people and a chance to bounce my ideas off friends and
colleagues. So I read. I listen to
tapes. I seek out friends for discussions.
Most important, I talk to my wife, Nanette. . . .
Most important of all, I maintain my perspective by trying
to take the long view, the wider view. I try to step
back from my life and get a vision for how things fit
together. I try to determine what is temporal and
what is timeless.
And I count my blessings.
I take the old, corny, totally dependable route of listing
all the things I have to be thankful for. My
art. My family. The fact that I woke up this
morning and was able to walk and talk and breathe.
The fact that in the day to come I will have another
chance to get my perspective adjusted and see my life for
what it is. Truly blessed.
The essence of the true view is that each of us is blessed
beyond what we could ask of think, if we just take the
time to realize it. Each of us can thank God for the
indescribable gift that is life. To be living is to
be handed a precious white canvas upon which each of us
can create a painting of great depth and meaning. A
painting that can be full of joy and peace. The
beautiful painting of our lives.
Each life is a masterpiece in the making. And if
your perspective is true, the whole canvas will be
this celebrated artist
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is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again
to the earth and in contemplation of her beauties
to know the sense of wonder and humility.
As a high-school teacher, one of the most consistent sources of
frustration for me is watching kids being put in situations that
focus on their weaknesses rather than their strengths. A kid
who is an exceptional writer but poor at science still has to go
through several challenging science courses just to graduate, and
if he or she has troubles with the material, that student tends to
spend an inordinate amount of time on science, which keeps him or
her from actively strengthening the talents that will probably be
much more important years down the road.
We live in cultures that tend to think that everyone should be
able to do everything, and we force people to live up to that
expectation. But at what cost?
Imagine this: the kid who's really good at math and poor at
writing is allowed to focus strongly on math, while learning the
basic writing skills, not having to pass silly standardized tests
in writing, but being expected to reach high levels in his or her
area of focus, math. That student would leave high school as
an expert in the field of math, not as someone who has become a
jack of all trades, but a master of none.
Students who are really interested in writing could focus on
writing and reading, while taking basic math and science
courses. We do not need every student who goes through our
schools to be strong in math and science, especially those who
never again will use math and science in their lives.
Somehow we've grown to think that we have to beat other countries
at the test-score game; our students have to score better across
the board than students from other countries if we're to be
seen as "successful." But that's just silly--who
cares if Amber scored high in math in high school if she goes on
to be a counselor? Who cares if David was able to write a
perfect essay in high school if he goes on to be a pharmacist?
And what about you? How well do you nourish your
strengths? And how much time do you spend focusing on
"areas of improvement," all the while neglecting your
I tried playing the guitar for a while because I love music.
I was okay at it, but I quickly realized that if I wanted to get
good at it, I would have to devote far too much time than I wanted
to. I didn't want to devote a lot of time because that was
time that I could use developing my two strongest areas--writing
and teaching. Once I made the decision to drop the guitar, I
freed up a lot of time for those areas in which I could excel, and
which I really loved. I think I would have liked playing the
guitar, but I'm pretty sure I never would have gotten very good at
it, and my coordination between my left hand on the frets and my
right hand strumming or plucking just isn't very good.
Which of your strengths do you really enjoy using? How often
do you exercise that strength? Perhaps you're really good at
giving encouragement or advice; perhaps you're really good at
baking; maybe organizing time or space is your calling.
Whatever you're really good at and you love doing, stick with it,
and try to let other things not distract you from developing those
strengths. You have a lot to give to the world, but your
greatest gifts are going to come when you give something other
than a half-hearted effort, which almost always comes when we do
something that isn't a strong point, or even that's a strong point
that hasn't been developed.
You don't have to be good at everything. As a parent, I was
good at teaching and helping, but not so good at discipline, so I
usually deferred to my wife unless she asked me to take care of
something. She was much more fair at it than I was. As
a teacher, my strengths are instruction and grading, while I'm not
so good at organization and planning ahead. So I've found
ways to compensate for these weaknesses without spending
inordinate amounts of time trying to get really good at them, for
that's time that I can use to get even better at instruction and
You have strengths that are unique to you. Use them.
Enjoy them. Excel at them. The world and the people in
it will appreciate it when your contribution comes from your areas
of expertise and ability rather than from areas in which you don't
shine. There will always be others to shine in those areas,
and you can complement each other really well if you work at it,
instead of everyone trying to be good at everything.
of the most important elements
of living life fully is
awareness-- awareness of our surroundings, of other people
and their motives and fears and desires, of the things that
affect us most in our lives, both positively and negatively.
In the twelve years of livinglifefully.com's existence, this
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A child is
entitled to sane messages
from adults. How parents and
talk to children will help them to know
how they should
feel about themselves.
Their statements affect the child's
self-esteem and self-worth. To a
large extent, their
determines the child's destiny.
How many of us get up in the morning feeling truly
grateful for the day? Most of us wish we could turn the
clock back and keep sleeping. The truth is, when you are
happy to wake up and are grateful for the day, your life does
Each new day is an opportunity to pray for your loved
ones and to act in a loving manner towards them. I start out
by saying my prayer of thanks and asking for guidance and help
from all available resources. I find I am always grateful
for the new day, no matter how hard it is or will be, because I
know I am not ready for my days to end. After all, the
alternative to waking up and facing another difficult day is
death. For all I know, after death the unenlightened may be
sent back to wake up to the glory of the new day and its
I want to experience more days and the difficulties
and opportunities they will bring. I want the chance to test
myself. Maybe this makes me a glutton for punishment, but if
I can help one living thing get through the day and not hurt
anyone else in the process, I go to sleep thankful for the time I
have been given and eager to awaken to tomorrow.
Be understanding to your enemies.
Be loyal to your friends.
Be strong enough to face the world each day.
Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone.
Be generous to those who need your help.
Be frugal with what you need yourself.
Be wise enough to know that you do not know everything.
Be foolish enough to believe in miracles.
Be willing to share your joys.
Be willing to share the sorrows of others.
Be a leader when you see a path others have missed.
Be a follower when you are shrouded by the mists of
Be the first to congratulate an opponent who succeeds.
Be the last to criticize a colleague who fails.
Be sure where your next step will fall, so that you will not
Be sure of your final destination, in case you are going the
Be loving to those who love you.
Be loving to those who do not love you, and they may change.
Above all, be yourself.
an almond tree became covered with blossoms in the heart
of winter, all the trees around it began to jeer. "What vanity,"
they screamed, "what insolence! Just think, it believes it can
spring in this way!" The flowers of the almond tree
shame. "Forgive me, my sisters," said the tree. "I
swear I did not want
to blossom, but suddenly I felt a warm springtime breeze in my
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