It’s two days until Halloween in America. If you’ve gone into any commercial establishment in the last few weeks, you’ve been bombarded with pumpkins of all sizes and materials, plastic decor of infinite variety, mountains of orange and black wrapped candy, and enough cheap costuming to clothe the entire country for a year. The holiday season is about to begin in earnest as October gives way to the season of shopping, otherwise known as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Commercialism abounds, we get sucked into the frenzy even if we don’t like to shop, and good deals take our attention from being content with what we already have. We eat too much too quickly and have more excuses than usual for why we can’t exercise. For many of us, the holidays mean putting on weight, being stressed out, spending too much money and throwing in the towel until January. Often times we are multi-tasking, working late to prepare for a few extra days off or packing frantically to visit the in-laws. We get snippy with our children, our neighbors put up lights that are too bright and we hope the time goes quickly. It doesn’t feel like a time of celebration when the culture calls the shots. We forget to be mindful and live in the present. Continue reading “Palpable Joy: A Mindful Thanksgiving”
Everyone is outraged about the killing of one lion – and rightly so – but then we all go get a quarter pounder that is produced through a system that mistreats millions of animals and destroys the environment (i.e. habitat for other animals).. ~N. Barr
Everything is connected. Trophy hunting is an overt and extreme illustration of the type of behavior our culture is capable of producing and one to condemn without question. Killing another creature for sport will never be right. We have the right to be angry, and we have the right to grieve the loss of a beautiful life. But what I keep coming back to is that the death of Cecil the lion, while fostering immediate sorrow for the life lost and rage against those directly involved, sometimes makes us forget that the actions of the average Joe living in a developed nation — of you, of me — It makes us forget that the things we do every day, like drive a car or make a call on a cell phone or type on a computer or eat from a box of crackers that was produced in a factory….all of these things are complicit in a system that exploits life for human gain. It’s not blatant disregard for life like trophy hunting is, no. But at the end of the day, so many of our actions, albeit a few steps removed, result in the loss of life. Continue reading “Be Sure To Act”
It’s not just schools that often lack gentleness. Workplaces can rub us raw too, as can public transit, shopping malls, restaurants, and daycare. The levels of noise, advertising, and stressed-out people dealing with other stressed-out people can leave us feeling bombarded and drained.
Creating more spaces of refuge, like public parks, is one option. But another option is to integrate gentleness into all our spaces and daily interactions. It could be something as small as turning down the music in cafés. Or as radical as a mother making the commitment to care for herself with as much tenderness as she does her family.
[and at the end of the day]…
It is me saying to myself: “I’m so in awe of you, I must treat you as if I truly understood what noble means.” It is me saying to others: “I get it. We’re wounded and taking a thousand risks simply by showing up. And I see that. I honor you.” ~
Gentleness forms the under-song of survival — the hidden face of evolution, wars, famine — and the partner of resilience. It is the loving touch that reminds us we are not alone, and there is hope. There is healing. Gentleness exists between people. And it dwells within each of us.
How do you cultivate gentleness within yourself? When encountering others?