State of Grace

 

In the days of Joan of Arc it was the believed that scriptures forbad one from knowing whether one was “in a state of grace.” Thus when one of her accusers asked the saint if, “She was in a state of grace,” he was laying a trap.

Either a yes or no answer would doom the girl to her death.
Mark Twain reports in his classic, Joan of Arc, she answered in this fashion:
“If I be not in a state of Grace, I pray God place me in it; if I be in it, I pray God keep me so.”
May we all so pray, and to also ask for a little bit of St. Joan’s quick wit.

Vision

 

Where there is no vision, a people perish. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Great leaders have vision, for a better world, a more peaceful world, and kinder and gentler world. I would add to Emerson’s quote that if the vision is about power and personal gain, not the betterment of others, than yes, “a people perish.”
 
We all can accomplish our own brand of vision where we see things more clearly, even our imperfections. Yet, our vision is not the same as judgment.  
 
When we reject judgment, we learn acceptance. We learn to accept others and ourselves as we are. What clearer vision of the world can we ever ask for?

Expectations

 

Coming back from upstate New York, Suzy and I listened to a wonderful program on NPR about blindness, and how people are learning to see without eyes using echo recognition. I recommend the whole hour to you I am sure it is on NPR’s Podcasts.

I was struck by the words and the personal story of a man who teaches this tool to children, and his premise that “low expectations” are the biggest roadblock to blind children being able to accomplish whatever they want to do.
Words such as “you can’t do that, you’re blind” reinforces a culture of low expectations.
How true are his words in even the broader sense. Fear, fear of failure, and even a parent’s love can all subconsciously cause us to reinforce “low expectations.”
I was especially caught by the concept that parental love and fear of injury, physical and psychological, inhibit the expansion of the possible.
Great stories, great accomplishments in sports, science, and the arts are the result of someone overcoming the “low expectations’ of others, even of those who only are doing what they think is the best.
Maybe you think this meditation is for the young, but think again. If you are older it doesn’t mean your expectations should be any lower.
We should all work at removing the barriers to high expectations, not only for the young, but for ourselves as well.

Heart

 

“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” –Pema Chödrön

 

My Yoga instructor is always encouraging me to open my heart in a physical sense — throw back my chest, squeeze my clavicles, etc. But I also think she is encouraging me to do it in a metaphysical sense as well.

We all have friends who drive us crazy, yet how wonderful it is when we realize we love that friend for their faults as much as in spite of them — when their craziness helps us see the world in a new and different light.

A long time ago, when I was much younger I had a rogue friend who was always flirting with my girlfriend at the time. His flirting almost destroyed our friendship until I realized he was teaching me something. His flirting with my girl meant I had something he valued and maybe, just maybe, I needed to place more value on her and on what I had. Forty-five years later that “girl” is still my wife. A valuable lesson from a friend that was driving me crazy. He had been my teacher. He still is.

What can you learn for a friend that is driving you crazy? Open up your hearts and find out.