lessons learned: giving back to the community that raised me

Recently, I was asked why I returned to my hometown to live as an adult. I responded that I felt compelled to give back to the community that raised me.  Typically that answer satisfies people, and they smile politely and we move on in conversation.  This person, however, wanted me to dig more deeply.

one view of my community

one view of my community

“What does that mean?  ‘Give back to the community that raised you?’”

Although my choice of words had come so easily to me for many years, I knew that I had grown and changed a bit on my life’s journey.  What did that response mean to me now?

Last night, I was graced with the opportunity to visit with friends from church.  I sat in their home, shared prayer time with them, took communion with them, and listened to them.  They told stories of trials and travels, children and churches.  We exchanged fond memories and meditated on new struggles. And throughout the evening, my soul was warmed by their openness and hospitality.

You see, these friends I have known since my childhood.  She taught me in my first church as a teacher, and he guided me through high school as my principal.  Now, I had the opportunity to nurture them as they had once nurtured me (and I daresay, continue to nurture me).

As I drove home, I thought about the question posed to me a week ago, and I pondered the gift of that evening’s visit.  There was the answer right there in my heart–yes, my desires for returning home were becoming a reality, and boy, wasn’t it a blessing.

honoring the man who dared to stand

In honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther’s King’s celebrated day today, I have selected some of my favorite quotes by him.   I consider him to be one of my heroes, and his words have mentored me through many a season in my life.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. 20130404-100112.jpg

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.

Only in the darkness can you see the stars.

Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.20130404-100101.jpg

Buddhist prayers and poetry for the new year

New Year Poem and Wishes

Under the glorious canopy of redwood trees
The New Year peacock dances
Sun and moon rise into the blue sky
The earth grows and happiness increases
In this New Year
– H.E. Khempo Yurmed Tinly Rinpoche

Being Peacemay 19 serenity daisy

If we are peaceful.
If we are happy.
We can smile and blossom
Like a flower.
And everyone
In our family,
Our entire society
Will benefit
From our peace.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Evoking the presence of great compassion, let us fill our hearts with our own compassion – towards ourselves and towards all living beings.
Let us pray that all living beings realize that they are all brothers and sisters, all nourished from the same source of life.
– Buddhist Prayer