Family Connections

Arizona Butterfly

“Forgiveness is the final form of love.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

“Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those who think they talk sense.” ~ Robert Frost

During this visit to family for the holidays, we’ve been able to reconnect with my father’s last living brother. It’s been over twenty years since we last saw him, and we’ve all been through lots of life altering experiences. Seeing my uncle again and hearing the stories of his painful experiences has caused me to reflect on relationships and just how complicated they are. Each of us carry wounds, some healed, some still seeping. But for me the meaning of Jesus life, and that of the other great teachers like him, is that we must learn to forgive those who have wounded us, and forgive ourselves for being thoughtless.

When we think of forgiveness, we often think of the person who has been hurt, but not about the person who caused the pain. Having been the perpetrator of hurt feelings, I know that when I hurt someone else, I feel terrible that I could have done such a thing and I berate myself endlessly. Okay, I know not everyone is sensitive, or has empathy enough to regret what they did, but still there are always two sides to any story when someone gets hurt. And often there are two wounds that need to be addressed and healed.

This year there has been a lot of talk about how uncivil our society has become, and that we need to be kinder to each other. Social media has become littered with landmines of nasty comments. But I have to remind myself that when someone lashes out with hate, they are trying to get rid of their own negative feelings. So, I go back to one of my life themes, if we want to rebuild our personal relationships and create a kinder society, we have to begin with loving ourselves. Then we can spread kindness within our smaller circle of friends and family. This creates a ripple effect that will transform our personal relationships and our society into one that most of us say we want.

I try to remember that we’re all a member of the human family and that no one is perfect. Often we’re in our own little worlds and aren’t as mindful as we could be when interacting with others. We cause harm where none was intended. I’m a firm believer in the idea that we’re all doing the best we can all the time. And that not everyone has the same level of life coping skills. So, maybe we should do what Atticus Finch suggests to Scout; put on someone else’s shoes and walk around in them for a while. Doing that might help us not only see where we’ve caused pain, but also see that the people who hurt us might not have intended what happened. They were just living their lives and doing the best they could at the time.

Here’s to creating a great 2019!

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Themes for My Year

Act I The Skin of Our Teeth

“I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it.” ~ Kristin Armstrong

I resemble the quote above. I just finished my first full week of teaching three college classes. It’s four late evenings a week. A couple of interesting things happened. First, I thought I’d be exhausted by the Thursday night. I wasn’t! I felt great on the drive home, energized by my students. However, when I woke up in the morning my head was in a fog and I felt like everything I’m doing to going to fail, or worse be mediocre. This post is my attempt to unravel my feelings of inadequacy.

The second thing that happened was that I noticed a theme emerging from the play I’m directing and the movies I chose for my dramatic structure class. Measure for Measure, and most of the movies are about flawed and damaged people trying to protect themselves. Some of them commit terrible acts, or are forced to face their woundedness. But in almost every case they are redeemed by people who love and forgive them.

Then there was the Larry Nassar case. He sexually abused more than 150 young girls and women gymnasts including some Olympic champions. Thursday night as we were leaving class, my students couldn’t help but bring up the case and how they thought he got what he deserved. All the way home I was thinking about my themes for the year; how we’re all flawed, sometimes making huge mistakes, and that possibly unconditional love and forgiveness might just redeem us all. But it’s hard to go against conventional wisdom. I mean, I feel torn about such cases. Do we just let violent offenders go without any consequences? Do we shower them with love and expect them to change?

I have no clear answers for those questions, except that I think it’s always good to defend the weak. And how can we learn if we don’t face the consequences of what we do?

As I was ruminating about these issues, the book Conversations with God came to mind. In the book, Neale Donald Walsch asks God a very important question about the evil we humans have created. God said something that confirmed some deeply buried beliefs I had never dared to speak out loud, “”Evil is that which you call evil. Yet even that I love, for it is only through that which you call evil that you can know good; only through that which you call the work of the devil that you can know and do the work of God. … I do not love ‘good’ more than ‘bad.’ Hitler went to heaven. When you understand this, you will understand God.” Then when Neale says that he was raised to believe that good and bad do exist, God replies, “Everything is ‘acceptable’ in the sight of God, for how can God not accept that which is? … Yet hold to your beliefs and stay true to your values … still examine them one by one.”

Well, this year I’m examining my beliefs about what we do to ourselves and each other. For now holding myself and others accountable is a good thing. The discussions that abound right now about human rights of all kinds are good because we need to address the rage of those who have been mistreated for so many centuries. We have to allow them to tell their stories so they can heal. In turn we all need to tell our stories in order to see where we’ve become uncaring and cruel so we can choose new ways to interact with each other.

On a more personal note, during this process of preparing to direct Measure for Measure, I realize that I am so hard on myself. I blame myself for not being sensitive enough, yet like two of the main characters in the play, I’m tempted to shut off my emotions because it’s just too painful to be bombarded daily with new allegations of abuse, or new legislation that hurts the people who are in the most need. I expect myself to be perfectly loving, accepting, compassionate, and forgiving. But I’m human and sometimes I call people idiots and shake may head at their lack of compassion. Then I think, who am I to judge? Living is a complicated proposition, unless I remember that I’m not the one in charge of the big picture. I’m merely one of the actors on the stage.

So, we’re all works in progress and I’ll try to be better at giving myself a break when I’m not as “good” as I think I should be and do the same for those around me.

Thanks for reading, commenting and pressing the like button.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

What to We Want to Be?

Arizona Butterfly

“This is the United States of America. What have we become?” Social Media Meme

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” ~ Lucille Ball

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle” ~ Albert Einstein

I saw the above Facebook meme the other day. Every time there’s a mass shooting, story about a rich and powerful person abusing their power, violence erupting, and massive amounts of people killed or left homeless, I see or hear someone say, “What has this world come to?” Or “This is not who we are.” Well, I say, yes this is who we are until we ask some new questions. Who do we want to be? What do we want the world to look like? How do we want to treat each other? And what steps do we need to take to create a more loving, compassionate, empathetic world?

I’ve written this before, because I’m thoroughly convinced, that humanity is in the midst of a great evolutionary awakening. It’s amazing how much of the old ways of doing things and ways of thinking are getting exposed. There are just too many to name in this short blog post, but then you already know what they are. For a highly sensitive person like me, what we’re living through right now can be crazy making. There are days when I just want to stay in bed with the covers over my head. But that’s not an option if I want to help contribute to our awakening. So I’m sharing some things I’ve learned over my fifty plus year spiritual journey that are steps you can take if you want to awaken and help make the world a better place in which to live.

First, we have to acknowledge where we are, both in our personal lives, and our global lives. Okay, things are really bad in this country right now in almost every area of life, but that’s nothing new. We’ve not been very good stewards of the planet, or been very kind to each other. It’s just that we have world wide media now. We see all the bad things that are happening, get overwhelmed and throw up our hands. But, I choose to think that everything is a miracle and that all the dark events that are out in the open now, give us a chance to make a choice. Do we live in a hostile or friendly universe? Yes, I think that choice is up to us.

I can’t say that I have always believed we could choose to see the universe as friendly. Like my sister says, “Everyone has a hole in their heart.” I certainly had some challenges, but even though I doubted, there was one part of my heart that kept whispering that life was a miracle, and all I needed to do was change my perspective.

If you look back at history, you know that we’ve always lived with fear, bigotry, misogyny, greed, hatred, disregard for life, and the desire to go back to the good old days. But, history also teaches us that humanity has been progressing. I’d be willing to bet that now more people react to the bad things that happen with shock and disbelief instead of blind acceptance. More people are saying “Oh hell no! I don’t want to live like this.” That’s a good thing. I think more people are doing self-examination which leads us to better societies.

Of course, there will always be people who don’t want to change. They either bury their bad feelings and go on about their daily lives, or they side with the haters. But if your foundations are shaken when bad things happen, it’s an opportunity to wake up and become a part of the tide of change. Looking into our dark places is not pleasant but it’s a necessary part of the awakening process. I know this from personal experience. When I could accept my darkness as well as the light inside, I was able to understand others better.

Second, accepting all of who we are leads to forgiveness of ourselves and others. This is a vital part of awakening. Each of us must find our own way to forgiveness. The methods that work for me, might not be helpful to you at all.

Forgiveness can take time. I once lost a beloved job due to nepotism. For the longest time I wanted revenge, and I got it in a way. Losing that job led me to the realization that I was meant to be a writer. I’m more happy now than I’ve ever been. But, it took me twelve years to fully forgive the perpetrators of my dismissal. I had to let go of wanting things to be different. And I had to learn that forgiving someone doesn’t mean you let them off the hook for what they’ve done. We each have to face the consequences of our actions. In my case, I had to let God take care of their karma. That wasn’t my job.

Third, after embarking on the awakening journey, our purpose becomes more clear. I think it’s easier to answer the questions I posed above once we know our purpose for being here. We see how we can help make the world a better place. But this process is a kind of cycle, or maybe it goes up and down, back and forth. We address our darkness, we accept and forgive, understand a little bit more about who we are and why we’re here, which leads to the next set of challenges to solve.

So, things look pretty bleak right now, but we don’t need to despair about that. It’s just God’s way of calling us to deeper understanding and healing. And because we have free will, we can choose to ignore the call, or get busy and do the work.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

On Strength and Weakness

It's a Wonderful Life Village
It’s a Wonderful Life Village

“Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.” ~ Bill Bullard

“We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it’s absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive.” ~ T. D. Jakes

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” ~ Yoda

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

I’ve been thinking a great deal about strength and weakness as we approach this most sacred time of the year. We often think that a show of force is strength, as in military retaliation, or getting revenge on our enemies. To me that’s the weakest kind of human interaction. I think strength is having the courage to accept and feel all our emotions. To cry and not be ashamed, to love with abandon, to be kind and compassionate, to feel another’s pain. When we can do that we can effect real change.

While revising my novel, I came to a section where Jenna, one of the main characters, is fired from a position that she thinks is her dream job. That and other life shattering events force her to face herself and who she is meant to become. If her life hadn’t been shaken up in such a cruel way, she would have continued to follow the path she was on and not reached her full potential.

Though the circumstances are different, the situation I wrote for Jenna came from an experience in my own life. I was fired from a much beloved teaching position. It was a political thing. Shortly after I lost that job, I was having breakfast with a friend of mine from the school and I was stunned when she said, “I hate to say this but you were weak and they took advantage of that.” I’ve thought a great deal about that statement over the years because I think my friend is dead wrong.

One of the major lessons I learned from that experience is that we each live in our own little worlds with a set of goals we want to accomplish. We see anybody who stands in the way of achieving those goals as our enemy. In fact one day as I was driving by the turn off to the school I remembered something an actor, I don’t remember who, said when asked why he played so many villains. He squinched up his eyebrows and said, “Well, you know, the villain is the hero of his own story”. I had a huge aha in that moment. I was the villain to my school enemies and they were the villain to me. We had opposing goals and stood in each other’s way to accomplishing them. All of a sudden I thought of those two people differently. They weren’t evil, they were just righting a situation they thought was wrong. I wasn’t supposed to be hired for the job, you see, the daughter was. Someone was going to lose the fight and it was me.

Now I can’t say I forgave them that very day. Oh, no. I wanted to hang on to my anger a while longer. I wanted the situation made right, which meant I wanted them to apologize for wounding me so deeply. I wanted them to see that I was really the better teacher for that position. I wanted my job back. It wasn’t until I gave up wanting a different outcome that I was able to look for what I could learn from the situation. Once I did that I began to make the steps toward forgiveness and toward finding my true purpose in life. In fact it was only a few weeks ago as I was meditating that I saw myself hugging them and telling them they had done me a huge favor and I thanked them for helping me find the most happy and fulfilling life that I now enjoy.

Over those several years when I was struggling to make sense of why my perfect life was shattered, I’ve learned that real power is wielded by the compassionate, the loving, and the empathetic because they are the ones who see the true souls of others. They are the ones who know that who we really are is not the things we own, our bank account, our jobs, our belief systems, or our behaviors. Most of us are completely unaware that we are beautiful light beings connected to each other and to the Divine.

One of the reasons I love this time of year is because almost all of us celebrate the sacred. Instinctively we know that light is more powerful than darkness for it is easy to dispel darkness by lighting one candle. Spiritual light shining from within is much the same. It can lead us to peace and happiness if we commit to loving those who are drenched in the darkest of places.

I know it’s a little early for making resolutions, but this is mine for the new year. To be one light that helps dispel darkness by embodying love, empathy and peace as much as I possibly can. If we band together in our intention to be the peace we wish to see, it can’t help but happen one day soon.

I hope you have a blessed holiday season.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

Nothing Matters

Tarantula Nebula
Tarantula Nebula

“Bad news is: You can’t make people like, love, understand, validate, accept, or be nice to you. You can’t control them either. Good news is: It doesn’t matter.” ~ Daily Vibes on Facebook

“You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there.” ~ The ManKind Project on Facebook

“Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you.” ~ A Course in Miracles, pg. 728

Years ago when Neale Donald Walsch said to me, “Contemplate these words: Nothing matters and you think it does.” I was appalled at his attitude. How could he say such a thing when there was so much suffering in the world! Yet on some level, I already knew that there was much more going on behind the scene of the world I was living in than was readily visible. I asked myself, “Do I trust God or not?” Though on one level I thought Neale was daft, I did as he said. It took me several years of contemplation to understand what he meant by those words.

Finally, in the early nineties I had a huge aha moment. My experience was so profound that I began to talk about what I’d learned and immediately was met with resistance and condemnation. People said to me exactly what I had thought when Neale had given me the assignment. “How dare you say nothing matters. Look at all the suffering in the world. Look at the injustice.” Well that shut me down pretty quickly. I didn’t know how to make others understand what I knew to be true. God’s reality is something you must experience for yourself. Some people just don’t want to change their perspective. However, I didn’t give up what I’d learned.

Fast forward to these last couple of weeks. In the interim, I’d been very selective about sharing my huge aha. Some people get it, others look at me as if I have two heads. But I knew that whenever anything rocked my personal life, or the lives of millions around the world, that there was a much larger purpose to those events. I knew that what my friend John Berger says is true, “There are no victims, only volunteers.” What I’ve come to realize is that the world is as we choose to see it. If we see a dangerous world, that’s what we experience. If we see a friendly, supportive world that’s what we experience. It’s our choice while we’re in this physical form. The thing is once we leave this physical body, we’re back with God and part of the real reality once more. However, we can live in God’s reality while in our physical bodies. We can that is if enough of us choose to let go of our old ways of thinking and being.

Last week I wrote about seeing the movie Judgment at Nuremberg again and how what I’d been studying in A Course in Miracles affected my viewpoint of the movie. History tells us that the Allies thought they were so superior to the Nazis, as if we haven’t committed our own atrocities, that they put the Nazi leaders on trial for crimes to humanity. They condemned many Nazi leaders to death or life imprisonment. I was reminded of just how sacred and profound a change forgiveness can make in the life of a person, or in a society. While withholding forgiveness can devastate and perpetuate suffering.

A week later my husband and I were watching CBS Sunday Morning. On it was a segment about Dick Cheney and the new book he and his daughter have written together. I was appalled when Cheney’s daughter said, with such love in her eyes, that her father had more integrity than anyone she’d ever known. My reaction was not kind or forgiving. Oh how I wanted to blame him for the Iraq war, for his warmongering and greed. I wanted to see him get punished for all the lives lost, and proliferation of the war machine under his watch just like the Nazi’s had been. Then I stopped. Here was my opportunity to learn a new part of that old lesson.

As you might imagine, I’ve had to take some time to think and reconnect with the idea that nothing matters. Fortunately this morning as I was again studying A Course in Miracles, I understood that I’m no better than Dick Cheney and I have no right to judge him. The old part of me wants to punish him for seeing a dangerous world and for condemning all of us who strive to see a world filled with God’s love. But condemnation is not love. I can’t return attack for attack and make the world a better place. If I condemn Mr. Cheney, then I put myself right back into that dangerous world we see on the nightly news.

The problem with condemnation is that it ignores the spiritual beings underneath all of our attitudes and actions. We are more than our physical bodies and our lives continue after our bodies deteriorate. We don’t have to suffer pain and strife. We can choose to see the world differently. We must be willing to let go of what we were taught about the world and how it works. We need to get a new vision of who God is and who we are in relation to Her/Him.

When I’m confronted with someone like Dick Cheney, I’ll have to remind myself that he doesn’t know his own connection to the Divine. Eventually it will become second nature for me. That’s when I will live in love and peace completely. Until that time, I’ll continue to write and speak about what I’m learning. If I’m not understood, if I’m condemned as a Pollyanna, if I’m told I don’t understand the real world, that’s okay. The world I see is a much more loving and peaceful place in which to live and all I can do is to hold that vision so that, hopefully, others will join me there. Eventually enough of us will make the shift and the old world of struggle and strife will fade away.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to make a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Judgment and Forgiveness

April Morning Rose
April Morning Rose

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” ~ Marianne Williamson

“The deepest fear we have, ‘the fear beneath all fears,’ is the fear of not measuring up, the fear of judgment. It’s this fear that creates the stress and depression of everyday life.” ~ Tullian Tchividjian

“If there’s any message to my work, it is ultimately that it’s OK to be different, that it’s good to be different, that we should question ourselves before we pass judgment on someone who looks different, behaves different, talks different, is a different color.” ~ Johnny Depp

If you’ve been reading this blog this year, you may remember that I’ve been studying A Course in Miracles. Last week I was studying a chapter on judgment and how when we judge another, we’re judging ourselves because every person on this planet is part of God. We’re connected and we’re one.

Interestingly enough, just as I was studying this concept two things happened that gave me a new perspective on just how damaging judgment can be.

Saturday my husband and I turned on the TV and the movie, Judgment at Nuremberg was on. It’s about the last of the Nuremberg trials of high ranking Nazi officials of all kinds after WW II. In this case it’s about the trial of several judges who were part of the Nazi war machine. They had followed orders to condemn anyone, even if they were innocent of committing any crimes, who was not considered by the party to be a desirable citizen. So those who were Jews, Gypsies, Liberals, the mentally impaired or anyone else not pure enough to be a German citizen were condemned to sterilization or death. I have always loved this movie partly because of the extraordinary performances, but also because of the message: That we are all capable of terrible deeds and that when those deeds come to light we must stand up for what’s right.

However, when I saw the last few scenes this time, I had a shift in perception. It’s ironic that the Tribunal judges in this movie were all from the United States, a country that had dropped two atomic bombs on Japan to end the war. No one in the international community put us on trial for that. Lots of innocent people were killed when those bombs were dropped. But no one questioned our “right” to commit that horrendous deed.

In the very last scene of the movie, Ernst Janning, played by Burt Lancaster, is an internationally renowned judge and a defendant in the trial asks to see lead Judge Dan Haywood, played by Spencer Tracy. I’ve always found their exchange to be a most devastating moment.

Ernst Janning: Judge Haywood … the reason I asked you to come: those people, those millions of people … I never knew it would come to that. You must believe it, you must believe it!

Judge Dan Haywood: Herr Janning, it came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent.(Haywood and Janning look each other in the eye for several seconds then Haywood walks out leaving Janning with a devastated look on his face framed by the jail cell door.)

When I saw that scene this time I asked myself, “What would have happened if Judge Haywood had forgiven Ernst Janning? What would have happened if everyone on both sides of the war forgave each other for all the death and destruction the conflict caused? What would happen if we forgave the annoying neighbor, or the nasty teller at the bank, or our loved ones when arguments arise? What would happen to the world if forgivingness was the rule instead of judgement?

The next day after the movie Judgment at Nuremberg got me thinking, Barry and I were talking about an ongoing problem he has with his weekly chats via computer with his parents. I started to make a long drawn out correlation to the microwave dish used to connect us to the internet and our satellite dish. My point was that they may both be out of alignment. But instead of just saying that, I started to tell the whole story of how I came to that conclusion, which irritates Barry. When I do that, he interrupts with questions, that sometimes have nothing to do with where I’m going with the story to make my point. When he did that this time, I got really angry with him for not listening, for not waiting to find out what I was going to say. It’s a situation that we have faced often in our thirty-five years of marriage and it never seems to get better. We never change our modus operandi. Of course all communication between us stopped for a while. During that quiet time, I began to make a correlation between the movie situation, and my own personal situation. What would happen if I apologized for yelling at Barry and said he didn’t deserve that? What if I forgave him for what I think are his offenses against me instead of demanding that he conform to some ideal I have in my head? What if I just modify my way of communicating? And, what would happen if everyone did that on all kinds of levels?

I have to say, I’m so tempted to justify my position just like Judge Haywood did in the movie. I’m tempted to take the moral high ground and point out that I sit and listen until the end when Barry is telling me a story and then I ask my questions. I’m tempted to feel offended that he thinks I’m illogical, or not very smart, or that he doesn’t value what I have to say. But I would be wrong on all those counts. We just have different ways of communicating and of processing information.

To attack another person is to attack yourself. That’s another lesson from A Course in Miracles. So attacking Barry, or anyone else doesn’t bring peace to me personally, or to the world. It only causes more conflict. I very much want to bring peace to my home and to the greater world rather than conflict. The question I ask myself is, do I have the courage to give up having to be right? I’m working on that one.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment and connect with me on any of my social networks listed below.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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On Empathy and Courage

Welcoming Jean
Welcoming Jean

“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” – Lao Tzu

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Harper Lee

“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” – Stephen Covey

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” – James Baldwin

I had a very different blog post in mind for today, but in light of all that’s going on around the world, I have to return to an idea I write upon often in my posts. That is: that the only way to heal the world is by healing ourselves first.

With the riots going on in Baltimore, the terrorist threats around the world, the battle over rights for the poor, gays, and women we’re living in the middle of a war zone. Our instinct is to wall ourselves off, attack before being attacked and blame people and societal forces for all the bad things that happen to us personally and out in the world. The answer to solving our problems, however, is to do the opposite of what we’ve always done. We must learn to be empathetic.

Perhaps I’m an advocate for using empathy as a healing tool because I’m an empath. I was born that way so I can’t help it. But I’m with Neil deGrasse Tyson, empathy can be taught. You don’t have to be born that way. He advocates teaching empathy as part of our school curriculum. It’s the only way we’ll change the world for the better. For those of us who are adults, we’ve got to teach ourselves how to climb inside another person’s skin and walk around in it for awhile. Choosing to be empathetic takes courage.

My first reaction to the riots in Baltimore when I heard about them, was to condemn the rioters. But then I reminded myself to step back and try to understand why they feel so much rage. I could condemn anyone who turns to violence rather than looking for common ground to solve the issues but like my Dad used to say, “People who lash out at others are in so much pain they think that attacking others will help them get rid of it.” The thing is, that never works. I know because I’ve attacked people thinking the attack was deserved and that I’d feel better afterwards but I always felt worse.

There’s a great quote from the movie Ben-Hur that illustrates why violence never works. (I love picking up little gems of wisdom from movies and books.) Esther, the woman Ben Hur loves, says to him, “I know there is a law in life, that blood gets more blood as dog begets dog. Death generates death, as the vulture breeds the vulture!” We know that violence begets more violence, but for some reason we don’t stop ourselves. We attack others in big and small ways insanely thinking that we’ll get rid of our rage, that people will listen, that things will change for the better. The only way things will get better is if we feel empathy for others, forgive and stop attacking.

Healing is about forgiving ourselves and everyone we think injured us. Forgiveness is letting go of blaming and needing apologies. Forgiveness is about seeing the light of God in another person even if they can’t see it in themselves. We have to allow ourselves to understand that every human being longs for complete love and understanding just like we do. The best way to get that love and understanding is to give it away to others then it will come back to us.

I know it takes courage to go against the majority way of thinking. I know it’s scary to show empathy to a person who is in a great deal of pain and who might lash out. But the alternative is for violence to escalate. I’m tired of that, aren’t you? We’re at a turning point and only you can decide what you’ll do.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Fear Or Love

Our Rosebush
Our Rosebush

“You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success – or are they holding you back?” – W. Clement Stone

“If we’re destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there’s got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.” – Ellen DeGeneres

“Imagine what seven billion humans could accomplish if we all loved and respected each other. Imagine.” – A. D. Williams

Today’s post has been a long time formulating in my mind and heart. I’m not sure I will explain it very well, or whether you will understand it, but I think now is a good time to write about some very profound insights I’ve had over the last few years.

This year I decided to study A Course In Miracles. I started on January first and every day I read a portion of the text and do one lesson. This isn’t the first time I’ve begun to study the book, but I guess I just wasn’t ready, until now, to give up my old ways of thinking and being to stick with it.

The main message of the book is that fear is connected to the ego which we created when we separated ourselves from God. There are so many erroneous things we believe that we created with our egos during this long separation. Too many to innumerate here but we cling to our beliefs. When they are challenged conflict ensues. The point of the Course is that God is love. That there is nothing else but love. That we are a part of God and always have been. She waits for us to wake up and realize that. When we do wake up and remember our connection, all our other erroneous beliefs fall away. We see the world, ourselves and our purpose for being here in a completely new way.

Now I know that sounds impossible. Fear is real most people moan. The problems of the world are so numerous we may never be able to solve them all. The world is a dangerous place. That’s the way things have always been and that is how things will always be. That’s the way things will always be IF that’s what you want to believe.

My journey to letting go of all the junk my ego fed me over the years hasn’t been a straight or an easy one. But something deep inside me looked at the world around me and said, “This is insane. There has to be something better.” So, I looked for the better. I looked for God in my studies, in my meditations and contemplations and through my creativity. Little by little I’ve shed the illusions that we humans have lived with for centuries. No millennia! And now I’m beginning to feel hope that we can wake up from this long nightmare we’ve been living.

A vital step on my journey to finding true love and peace happened when I read Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser. In the book she describes exercises she does when conducting workshops at the Omega Institute which she cofounded. One of them stuck out for me as quite profound. She has the participants in her class imagine that they are dead and gone from the demands of this earthly world. At first I thought the exercise a bit gruesome, but then I decided to try it. When I did the most extraordinary thing happened. All the cares that I thought were so important fell away and I was immersed in the most profound peace I’d ever felt in my life. There were no white lights or anything like that, but I was completely relieved of my burdens of this world and was free to go anywhere I liked, to become anything I liked. I could BE with God in a new and profound way. That experience was the beginning of a new direction that has led me to my study of A Course In Miracles and in letting go of the fear that had been such a large presence in my life.

Just these past weeks I’ve experienced another profound shift in the way I experience life. I was studying a section about how the ego thinks we need to attack those around us. The ego convinces us that if we attack first we’ll be protected, but the opposite is true. When we attack another, we are attacking ourselves. When I understood that, I knew that I had to let go of all the resentments I’d been holding on to. I needed to let go of the wish for revenge, or for accountability, or for apologies from those I thought had attacked me. I needed to forgive completely and totally. As I did that, again, I felt a deep sense of peace. I’ve been able to see each person I might want to hold a grudge against for who they really are, a child of God just like me.

I won’t say I’m perfect at this practice yet. It’s a day to day choice to turn away from those terrible feelings of fear, anger and resentment. When I’m tempted to be angry at some politician who does something I feel is hateful, or against the common good, I have to remember that he or she is a child of God. That person just hasn’t let go of their fear yet. When tensions arise with friends, family and coworkers, I tell myself that God is with me wherever I go, and all is well, even if it doesn’t look like it at the moment. If I just send out love to everyone and everything, that is more powerful than the hatred and fear that is being spread by those who are still asleep. It’s more powerful because love real and fear is not.

I don’t know if you will understand this post. I hope that something I’ve written here will prompt you to allow your connection to God to grow stronger. That’s how we will change the world, and as those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while know, I’m all for making this world a better place in which to live.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Compassion Can Change Lives

SOO-wreath - Creative Commons.org“Freedom cannot be learned by tyranny of any kind, and the perfect equality of all God’s Sons cannot be recognized through the dominion of one mind over another.” – A Course in Miracles

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama

“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” – Maya Angelou

What if you made a huge mistake? I mean a really big one that society says is unforgivable? How would you feel? I don’t know about you but when I make even little mistakes, I beat myself up over it. If I made a huge mistake, I’d feel so much shame, I’d never want to show may face out in the world again. But if someone showed me compassion and forgave me, I’d be able to feel better about myself.

Last Sunday my husband and I saw a segment on CBS Sunday Morning, one of my favorite shows. My husband and I watch it faithfully every Sunday morning. Almost every Sunday I cry during at least one of the segments.

Last Sunday there was a story that made me think again about compassion and forgiveness, and how it can transform someone’s life. The title of the story we saw was “The Gainesville Tornadoes Thank Their Unexpected Fans” filed by Steve Hartman. Click Steve’s name to go to the CBS Sunday Morning page and watch the segment. I was touched by the story because it’s about the Gainesville Tornadoes who are young men serving time for felony offenses at the Gainesville, Texas Juvenile Correctional facility. The team is made up of students who have been on their very best behavior. When they get to play, they play teams from private schools like Vanguard College Prep in Waco, TX. The remarkable thing about this story is that the Gainesville Tornadoes rarely, if ever, have any fans. They are, after all, from a correctional institution, so none of their classmates can attend the games and most of the time their parents aren’t able, or don’t want to attend their games either. So not long ago, two Vanguard basketball players cooked up a scheme. They asked half their fan base to cheer for the Gainesville team, because as one student put it, “It’s no fun playing when the other team has no fans.” The thing is, by the end of the game, all the fans were rooting for the Gainesville players, and that was just fine with the Vanguard team. When Steve Hartman said, “This is not what I’ve ever seen sports be.” One of the students responded, “I think in a way this is kind of how sports should be and kind of showing you the real impact that encouragement and support for anybody can make.” Go watch the segment and if it doesn’t touch your heart, then you won’t understand the point I’m trying to make in this post.

We all need to be shown compassion when we make mistakes. It shows us that someone understands us. I know it’s hard sometimes to show compassion when we’ve been wounded by another. When that happens, we put on our armor and think that we’ll be safe inside it. But what retreating inside our armor does, is separates us from others.

Most of us are wounded people lashing out at other wounded people thinking we’re going to feel better by being the first to attack. This sets up a vicious cycle. The only way to stop the cycle is to do what Atticus Finch tells Scout to do in To Kill A Mockingbird, “You’ve got to put on another man’s shoes and walk around in them for awhile; see things from his point of view.” That’s how you cultivate compassion. If each of us stays inside our armor, we’ll never change the world for the better.

When I see a story like the ones Steve Hartman files on Sunday Morning, I rejoice. His stories always make me cry, because they are so hopeful. He tells about people in the world who are willing to set aside their personal goals of winning or being successful to help another person feel like there is someone who cares about them. Isn’t that what we all want? We want to feel needed and heard. We want to feel useful and we want to feel like we’re not the only ones who make mistakes. And on the other side, we want to feel like we’re making the world a better place in which to live. To do that we have to shed our armor and be the person who makes a difference in someone else’s life.

Thanks to my new and old followers. Please leave a comment below and connect with me on one or all of my social networks.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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A Dish of Forgiveness All Around

Chapel of the Red Rocks
Chapel of the Red Rocks

“When we think we have been hurt by someone in the past, we build up defenses to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. So the fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future become one. We cannot love when we feel fear …. When we release the fearful past and forgive everyone, we will experience total love and oneness with all.” –Gerald G. Jampolsky

“When you know better, you do better.” –Maya Angelou

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a fan of Super Soul Sunday on OWN. Last Sunday, Oprah’s guest was one of my favorite teachers and authors, Marianne Williamson. They began talking about Marianne’s campaign for nomination as a Congressional candidate, but late in the discussion their conversation turned to the violence in Ferguson, Missouri and what that’s all about. Oprah brought up an article that Marianne had written for the Huffington Post. You can click the link and go read it for yourself. I don’t want to rehash what Marianne has already written so beautifully. What I do want to write about is the mental and emotional journey I’ve been taking since listening to Marianne and Oprah’s discussion.

First of all let me state that I am a white person. I was raised to believe that EVERYONE deserves to be treated with respect, so some of the discussions that have been going on lately about how white people need to take a good look at their attitudes about racism, rubbed me the wrong way. But Oprah and Marianne’s discussion got me thinking about forgiveness. Slavery was one of the most horrendous episodes in our nation’s history. Another one is how we treated the Native Americans. White people, for the most part, were behind both of those terrible situations. I think Marianne is right, white people don’t want to think of the horrible things that whites did in our country’s past. Most of us think that we weren’t alive then, so it has nothing to do with us.

But here’s the thing, we’ll never heal our racial wounds if we don’t forgive ourselves for our impulse to ignore what happened. We can’t expect anything to get better if we don’t take responsibility for what’s happening right now. And what’s happening right now is, whites want to point to the Civil Right’s Movement of the 60s and 70s and say, “It’s already been healed. The laws have been passed, we’re all equal now.” As we’re seeing in recent events, that’s just not true. The discussion and practice to make everyone equal is far from over.

So, I take responsibility for my assumption that African American’s just needed to forgive us and move on, and for not forgiving myself and my ancestors for what they may have done. We as white people need to stop glossing over our discomfort with what has happened to African and Native Americans due to white aggression and greed. We need to look into those dark places and expose our true feelings about the differences of race and culture in this country. We need to acknowledge that we’re not the top of the heap, and in reality, never have been.

If we’re going to survive the myriad problems we face right now, we need to do some deep soul searching and forgive ourselves and then others. We’ve got to stop letting the past get in our way of creating a new future.

This blog is my public declaration that I’m committed to healing and forgiving myself for not acknowledging the deep wounds caused by white people in our country’s history. I’m with Marianne and support any efforts our government makes to make reparation to any group that we’ve wronged. Making reparation is our collective acknowledgement of what happened, and that we want to make it as right as possible and build a new future together.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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