12 June 2018      

Good day!  Another Tuesday is here, and we want to share some
positive thoughts and ideas with you in this new week in our lives!

When We're Happiest
Earl Nightingale

Came to Believe
Dan Morley

Ten Lessons for Life
Marian Wright Edelman

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Nature always takes her time.  Great oaks don't become great overnight.  They also lose a lot of leaves, branches and bark in the process of becoming great.

Andrew Matthews

Immature love says, "I love you because you love me."  Mature love says, "I love you whether you love me or not."


Gentleness is a divine trait:  nothing is so strong as gentleness and nothing so gentle as real strength.

Ralph Sockman

When We're Happiest
Earl Nightingale

Quite often we hear people say, "I'm unhappy," as though happiness were the object, or purpose, of life.  It isn't, nor can it be.  Happiness is an effect, a by-product, a symptom of something else.  Therefore, seeking happiness directly must always result in failure.

Happiness comes only to those who have done something to cause it. It can be meeting the so-called "right person."  Falling in love brings a euphoric, giddy kind of happiness which, if the love is real and lasting, can settle down into a kind of permanent state of happiness.  There will be ups and downs, of course, so-called good days and moments and bad days and bad moments, but if the relationship is sound and satisfying, having the right person can bring a kind of joy for many, many years.

Happiness generally comes most often to productive and creative people when they have found and are engaged in work in which they can lose themselves.  When the work has been completed, they must then, after a while, find more.

For the author, it can be a book or a story; for the painter, a subject, an idea. And it's the same with architects, engineers and all the rest of us. 

We are usually happiest when we are unaware of our happiness.  We'll be busily engaged in something that demands our full attention and best talents and suddenly discover, during a pause in the work, that several hours have passed in which we've been completely unaware of the passage of time and our surroundings.

And, if we think about it, we'll realize that we were living close to the peak during that time and that we were in a very high order of happiness.

Happiness comes when we are doing something for others, too.  On Christmas morning, our joy or our happiness can be at a very high level, not because of our anticipation of what we might receive but, rather, in anticipation of watching our loved ones open our gifts to them.  In fact, if we're not careful, we can fail to register sufficient excitement and joy upon opening the gifts we receive from others.  We must remember that they are happiest at that time and to give them top billing, to stretch their happiness to its full length.

Sometimes we're so anxious for them to open something we've given, we'll tend to pass over the things they've given us.  Have to watch that, especially where the children are concerned.  They've spent days, perhaps weeks, thinking of the moment when we'll finally open the present on which they've lavished so much thought and love and care.

So if we remember that we are happiest when we are doing things for others, when we are busiest, and after we have accomplished something worthwhile, we need never be unhappy again, at least not for long.  We need only find a project on which to work, or put in a good hard day doing those things that need to be done, or find a way to do something for others.  Then happiness, like a butterfly, will come and land on our sleeve.

Happiness is not the purpose of life. It is a by-product of keeping busy, of losing ourselves in our work and of doing things for others. Knowing that, we need never be unhappy again.

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Came to Believe
Dan Morley

"Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."  That is the second step of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  What a statement.  I have lived by this step for many years.  It has given me the courage to find a power much greater than myself—A power that gives naturally, the power of Nature.  By finding that connection to the natural world, I found that we are a very important part of nature.  We give, and in return, we get back much more.

Even before my ill-fated past, I had the opportunity to experience the overwhelming awe of the Colorado Rockies:  the deep blue sky, white puffy clouds, magnificent stars at night—everything from the smallest insect to the towering pines, the highest mountain top to the most fragile wild flower, from the amazing wildlife to a full moon or a stunning sunset.  Nature has a special spot for me.  I have sought this power greater than myself for nineteen years.  It sustains me.  It heals my suffering, lightens my heart, shows me compassion, and teaches me responsibility.  It just makes you feel good!

It's starting to show signs of spring here at The Center.  What a wonderful time of the year to wake us up from a long cold and busy winter.  The month of May is the month of miracles. Miracles are the little things that awaken the soul.  The hardwood trees are starting to bud.  The daffodils, tulips, and crocuses are popping up through the Earth.  The winds are changing direction, bringing a host of migrating birds from the south. We can look for warblers, orioles, grosbeaks, and chickadees.  We can take a mindful walk in the woods, noticing the sights and sounds of life all around us, and the smell of the fresh moist Earth that heightens all our senses.

I am extremely grateful to be able to share the spiritual mission of The Center.  Come and spend a day in nature with like-minded people.  There are four mindfulness retreats a year, a good way to find your center.  Come and enjoy Sunday morning bird walks at the Lodge in May.  There are weekly wildflower walks on Tuesday evenings in May. There is a spring migration birding retreat on May 12th.  Come and join our spring events at the farm, or find a spot in the pine forest.  If you're still, you may hear the "hoot" of a Great Horned Owl or maybe notice a Cooper’s hawk soaring above the trees.  It is nothing short of joy.

Joy comes from simple and natural things;
Mists over meadows,
Sunlight on leaves,
The path of the moon over water.

~ Sigurd F. Olson ~

There is a scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, that kind of fits the bill.  If I can replace the word love with nature it goes like this:  "Nature is patient, Nature is kind.  It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Nature does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Nature never fails. . . ."

So here we are, and the big question is—Nature, Love, God, is it all one?  Is Nature the higher power that sustains me?  Is it the miracle of Love that comforts me?  Is it the realization of God that I seek?  I have come to believe, Yes.  Give back and you shall receive.  Surrender and you shall win.
Dan's article was originally published in the May, 2018, newsletter of the Chicago Southwest Community Center Foundation.

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There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, “Yes,
I’ve got dreams, of course, I’ve got dreams.”  Then they put the
box away and bring it out once in a while to look in it, and
yep, they’re still there.  These are great dreams, but they never
even get out of the box.  It takes an uncommon amount of guts
to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up and say, “How
good or bad am I?”  That’s where courage comes in.

Erma Bombeck

Ten Lessons for Life (an excerpt)
Marian Wright Edelman

(The following ten "lessons" are taken from Edelman's "Twenty-Five Lessons for Life," in her book The Measure of Our SuccessA Letter to My Children and Yours.)

There is no free lunch.  Don't feel entitled to anything you don't sweat and struggle for.  And help our nation understand that it's not entitled to world leadership based on the past or on what we say rather than how well we perform and meet changing world needs.

Set goals and work quietly and systematically toward them.  We must all try to resist quick-fix, simplistic answers and easy gains, which often disappear just as quickly as they come.

Assign yourself.  My Daddy used to ask us whether the teacher had given us any homework.  If we said no, he'd say, "Well, assign yourself."  Don't wait around for your boss or your co-worker or spouse to direct you to do what you are able to figure out and do for yourself.  Don't do just as little as you can to get by.

Don't be afraid of taking risks or of being criticized.  An anonymous sage said, "If you don't want to be criticized don't say anything, do anything, or be anything."  Don't be afraid of failing.  It's the way you learn to do things right.

Remember and help others remember that the fellowship of human beings is more important than the fellowship of race and class and gender in a democratic society.  Be decent and fair and insist that others be so in your presence.  Don't tell, laugh at, or in any way acquiesce to racial, ethnic, religious, or gender jokes or to practices intended to demean rather than enhance another human being.

Be confident that you can make a difference.  Don't get overwhelmed.  Sometimes when I get frantic about all I have to do and spin my wheels, I try to recall Carlyle's advice:  "Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand."

"Slow down and live" is an African song I sing inside my head when I begin flitting around like a hen with her head wrung off:  "Brother slow down and live, brother slow down and live, brother slow down and live, you've got a long way to go.  Brothers love one another, brothers love one another, brothers love one another, you've got a long way to go."

Choose your friends carefully.  Stay out of the fast lane, and ignore the crowd.  You were born God's original.  Try not to become someone's copy.

Listen for "the sound of the genuine" within yourself and others.  Meditate and learn to be alone without being lonely.  "Small," Einstein said, "is the number of them that see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts."  Try to be one of them.

You are in charge of your own attitude--whatever others do or circumstances you face.  The only person you can control is yourself.  Worry more about your attitude than your aptitude or lineage.

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There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year's course.  Even a happy life
cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word "happiness" would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.  It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.

Carl Gustav Jung


Alice Cary

True worth is in being, not seeming--
In doing, each day that goes by,
Some little good--not in dreaming
Of great things to do by and by.
For whatever we say in our blindness,
And spite of the fancies of youth,
There's nothing so kingly as kindness,
And nothing so royal as truth.

We get back our mete as we measure--
We cannot do wrong and feel right,
Nor can we give pain and gain pleasure,
For justice avenges each slight.
The air for the wing of the sparrow,
The bush for the robin and wren,
But always the path that is narrow
And straight, for the children of men.

'Tis not in the pages of story
The heart of its ills to beguile,
Though he who makes courtship to glory
Gives all that he hath for her smile.
For when from her heights he has won her,
Alas!  It is only to prove
That nothing's so sacred as honor,
And nothing so loyal as love!

We cannot make bargains for blisses,
Nor catch them like fishes in nets;
And sometimes the thing our life misses
Helps more than the thing which it gets.
For good lieth not in pursuing,
Nor gaining of great nor of small,
But just in the doing, and doing
As we would be done by, is all.

Through envy, through malice, through hating,
Against the world, early and late,
No jot of our courage abating--
Our part is to work and to wait.
And slight is the sting of his trouble
Whose winnings are less than his worth;
For he who is honest and noble,
Whatever his fortunes or birth.



I hope that my achievements in life shall be these -- that I will have fought for
what was right and fair, that I will have risked for that which mattered, and that I
will have given help to those who were in need that I will have left the
earth a better place for what I've done and who I've been.

C. Hoppe




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