Inspiring Stories of Love, Healing, & Empowerment
Issue Number 19
Welcome to Inspirations! Global Community For All sends out this e-zine filled with short, inspiring stories of love, healing, and empowerment once every three months. We share these wonderfully inspiring stories to encourage and inspire each other to be the best we can be each day of our lives. Thanks for joining us, and may these words inspire us to ever deepen our commitment to love, heal, and empower; to open to divine guidance; and to choose what's best for all.
The Christmas Truce–David G. Stratman
From his book We CAN Change the World: The Real Meaning of Everyday Life
Available at amazon.com for $9.95
It was December 25, 1914, only 5 months into World War I. German, British, and French soldiers, already sick and tired of the senseless killing, disobeyed their superiors and fraternized with "the enemy" along two-thirds of the Western Front (a crime punishable by death in times of war). German troops held Christmas trees up out of the trenches with signs, "Merry Christmas."
"You no shoot, we no shoot." Thousands of troops streamed across a no-man's land strewn with rotting corpses. They sang Christmas carols, exchanged photographs of loved ones back home, shared rations, played football, even roasted some pigs. Soldiers embraced men they had been trying to kill a few short hours before. They agreed to warn each other if the top brass forced them to fire their weapons, and to aim high.
A shudder ran through the high command on either side. Here was disaster in the making: soldiers declaring their brotherhood with each other and refusing to fight. Generals on both sides declared this spontaneous peacemaking to be treasonous and subject to court martial. By March 1915 the fraternization movement had been eradicated and the killing machine put back in full operation. By the time of the armistice in 1918, fifteen million would be slaughtered.
Not many people have heard the story of the Christmas Truce. On Christmas Day, 1988, a story in the Boston Globe mentioned that a local FM radio host played "Christmas in the Trenches," a ballad about the Christmas Truce, several times and was startled by the effect. The song became the most requested recording during the holidays in Boston on several FM stations. "Even more startling than the number of requests I get is the reaction to the ballad afterward by callers who hadn't heard it before," said the radio host. "They telephone me deeply moved, sometimes in tears, asking, `What the hell did I just hear?'"
I think I know why the callers were in tears. The Christmas Truce story goes against most of what we have been taught about people. It gives us a glimpse of the world as we wish it could be and says, "This really happened once." It reminds us of those thoughts we keep hidden away, out of range of the TV and newspaper stories that tell us how trivial and mean human life is. It is like hearing that our deepest wishes really are true: the world really could be different.
Christmas in The Trenches - Listen to this moving song available here
Words & Music by John McCutcheon, c. 1984 John McCutcheon / Appalsong
This song is based on a true story from the front lines of World War I that I've heard many times. Ian Calhoun, a Scot, was the commanding officer of the British forces involved in the story. He was subsequently court-martialed for 'consorting with the enemy' and sentenced to death. Only George V spared him from that fate. -- John McCutcheon
My name is Francis Toliver, I come from Liverpool.
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here
I fought for King and country I love dear.
'Twas Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung
The frozen fields of France were still, no Christmas song was sung.
Our families back in England were toasting us that day
Their brave and glorious lads so far away.
I was lying with my messmate on the cold an rocky ground
When across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound.
Says I, "Now listen up, me boys!" each soldier strained to hear
As one young German voice sang out so clear.
"He's singing bloody well, you know!" my partner says to me.
Soon, one by one, each German voice joined in harmony.
The cannons rested silent, the gas clouds rolled no more
As Christmas brought us respite from the war.
As soon as they were finished and a reverent pause was spent
"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" struck up some lads from Kent.
The next they sang was "Stille Nacht," "'Tis 'Silent Night,'" says I
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky.
"There's someone coming towards us!" the front line sentry cried.
All sights were fixed on one lone figure trudging from their side.
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright
As he, bravely, strode unarmed into the night.
Soon one by one on either side walked into NO Man's Land
With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand.
We shared some secret brandy and wished each other well
And in a flare lit soccer game we gave 'em hell.
We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home.
These sons and fathers far away from families of their own.
Young Sanders played his squeezebox and they had a violin
This curious and unlikely band of men.
Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more
With sad farewells we each prepared to settle back to war
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night
"Whose family have I fixed within my sights?"
'Twas Christmas in the trenches where the frost, so bitter hung.
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung.
For the walls they'd kept between us to exact the work of war
Had been crumbled and were gone forevermore.
My name is Francis Toliver, in Liverpool I dwell,
Each Christmas come since World War I, I've learned its lessons well,
That the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we're the same.
Charlotte's Love Saves Her From the Ravages of War–Veil
The following is a short story that is included in the book The
Courage for Peace by Louise Diamond. I have found that many
people want to 'stand up for Peace' but are terribly afraid of physical
retaliation if they do. When I was attending Peace demonstrations last
year and this, I met many people who told me that they felt as I did but were
absolutely scared to the bone to march for fear of repercussions at home,
work, etc. The following story is for these folks:
"Charlotte was a Swiss woman who made the decision during World War II to work with the French Resistance. She was aware of the risks, realizing that capture would not only mean the end of her usefulness, but would most certainly involve being tortured for information, and, if she survived that, the inevitable transport to a concentration camp.
"Nonetheless, Charlotte persevered. She served the Resistance in various capacities for four years. Finally, she was caught. Jailed by the Gestapo, Charlotte awaited her interrogation with great trepidation. When she was escorted into the interrogation chamber, however, Charlotte found herself in a most improbable state. Her heart suddenly opened, and she began viewing her captors with great love! She felt a pure radiance shining through her to the men who would surely deal viciously with her. She said nothing, simply relaxing into that state of love.
"Inexplicably, whenever her would-be tormentors would begin to question her, something odd would happen. A phone call or summons would come that would call them away, or some other outside force would stop the interrogation before it could complete its course. Even when she was put in the train for the camps, the train didn't run. Charlotte, choosing to stay in a state of love rather than fear, even in the most violent of circumstances, thus escaped the worst of the harm that could have befallen her."
In the Garden of Shadow and Light–Nancy Smeltzer
I am a maker of pretty things. A large part of each day is spent on working on my art quilts. Designed for the wall, their surfaces are heavily embellished with buttons and beads. My soul is fed as I work on them, for my mind slips into a peaceful connection with the pieces of fabric. In effect, the two of us are one. I used to feel guilty that all I was doing for the world was making pictures with my trinkets while millions suffered. I have now come to accept that one of my purposes in life is to bring beauty, in all its many forms, into being. There is so much ugliness out there that I feel that the world can use as much softening and love as it can get. I'm now proud of what I'm doing for the good of all.
Most of my pieces are of bright, sunny images. Light is a very important design element in my work, and I love how it plays across the surfaces of my art. Many of the beads are faceted glass, which capture light beams and then throw them back to your eye. Recently, though, I'm learning to embrace my dark side. I'm finding that there are messages to also be learned in the shadows. Powerful designs are waiting for my needle to portray, if I can be brave enough to face that side of me.
Such was the case with a recent piece that I began. My gardens are another passion of mine, and I had intended that this new work be about a sunny view of an imaginary landscape. I was filled, however, with a powerful experience that I had recently had of examining all the facets of my being. The darkness that I have been learning to accept in my life seemed to keep creeping into the fabric image I was working on. I learned a long time ago that I have to let the piece say what it will, for to force my intentions on it ends in frustration for us both. As the piece progressed, one side of the garden wanted to have dark shades in it. I began to add deeper toned fabric and buttons on that side. Instead of rays of sunlight, I made rays of shadows to flit across the surface of a small pond that was in the picture. The effect isn't sinister at all, but rather a more balanced use of color than I usually have in my work. Thus was born my new piece, "In the Garden of Shadow and Light".
I have felt something was lacking in my art for a few years in that I felt that the pieces were too dreamy. While they are quite appealing up close, the composition suffered when viewed at a distance. It's surprising to me that the cohesion that I've been striving for in my work turned out to be that I needed contrast in my use of colors. Dark and light, light and dark, I feel that I need to acknowledge them both in all facets of my life. The message that my art has reinforced for me is that I needthe shadow side of me in order to be complete. Isn't it funny the lessons that can be learned from listening to some buttons and beads.
Transforming Our Relationship with Money–Jean Barker
From notes on a presentation by Lynne Twistat the Bioneers Conference, 2003
Lynne Twist has written a book called, The Soul of Money. It took her a long time and much work to do this book. She said writing it was the hardest thing she has ever done. Her purpose for writing was to invite us to transform our relationship with money. Lynne has been to many places where people struggle just to stay alive. She spent 20 years working for The Hunger Project in places like Ethiopia, India, Senegal, and Burkino Faso. People there are called "poor." Yet she discovered that once she engaged with these people, there was nothing "poor" about them! They are strong, courageous, innovative, ingenious, gutsy, intelligent. These people merely live in "resource poor" conditions. She now calls their countries "less consuming countries." Lynn commented, "these people have been my teachers."
She went on to say that the "resource rich" have also been her teachers. It is a sacred work to fund raise. It is a great privilege to ask people for money! To demonstrate this, Lynne shared the simple, yet powerful story of Gertrude:
Early in her life as a fund raiser, Lynne was asked to go to a large
corporation in the Midwest to meet the CEO. She was working for The
Hunger Project (started by Werner Erhart) whose goal and vision was to
bring an end to hunger around the world. She was nervous about
going to see this CEO. His company had made some bad decisions and had
a poor reputation. She had been informed that the CEO was going to make
a large contribution to the Hunger Project as a way of rectifying its poor
Lynne arrives at the company and takes the elevators to the top floor. She feels scared. She meets the man in his large office behind glass doors. She sits at a long conference table with him on the other end. She gives her talk within the15 minute time limit given to her, and he presents her with an envelope. Inside is a check for $50,000. It is the largest single donation she has ever raised. She thanks him, yet deep down she feels unsettled.
Lynne then goes on to NYC to meet with a black church group in their basement meeting room in Harlem. The pastor has invited her to speak about The Hunger Project. The rain pours down and she is late. She enters and finds that rain leaking into the room is collecting in puddles and spattering into pans placed around the room. She is surprised to find about 75 people waiting for her. She begins her talk, and eventually gets to the place where she is to make the pitch for money. She pauses, wondering how she can ask these people to give, when their own need is so great! She remembers that the pastor has asked her to come and do this very thing–ask for money. She makes her request and then stops.
There is silence. No one speaks. Then a woman dressed in a uniform stands and says, "My name is Gertrude and I like you! I don't have no bank account or checking account, but I earned $75 dollars this week and I'm gonna give it to you!" Deeply moved, Lynne places the money in the same brief case where she had earlier placed the huge check from the CEO. She then watches as one after another, people follow Gertrude's lead and put in their contributions.
Later that evening sitting in her hotel room, Lynne finds herself contemplating a difficult choice. Finally, she decides to write a letter to the CEO. She thanks him for his contribution and for the time he took to listen to her. She then says she has to return the check because it did not come from his heart.
Four years after that memorable day, Lynne received a letter from that CEO. He said that he had been deeply affected by her letter years earlier; that he had followed the work of the Hunger Project over the years, and that he had seen that it was a fine organization. He had left his prior company and gone on to other work. Now he wanted to send her another contribution, but this one was from his heart. There was a check for $250,000 in the envelope!
Lynne said that she was not the one responsible for this huge change of heart. It was Gertrude and her giving from her heart that had changed both Lynne and this CEO. This man had never forgotten Lynne's letter, a letter which eventually changed his life, and which inspires us all, even now, to take a deep look at the soul of money.
Unexpected Surprises While Interpreting for the President–Fred Burks
The following is an email sent to hundreds of friends who joined in a special invitation on Oct. 22nd
First, I want to deeply thank all of you who joined on Wednesday in powerfully sending energy inviting our world's leaders to open to love and to doing what's best for all on our planet as I interpreted for them in Bali. As scheduled, I interpreted at three meetings over the course of almost three hours between President Bush, President Megawati of Indonesia, and a number of other political and religious leaders. I have no doubt that everyone present in those meetings on some level was touched by all of our love. Before, during, and after these meetings, I personally very much felt your loving presence.
On the morning of these presidential meetings, I had a very strange, unexpected encounter. I awoke early and decided to go for a short run from my Balinese hotel room across the green lawns and down a steep cliff to the crystal blue ocean. Because of the large, rocky cliff, I had to jog down a series of stairs to get there. As I got to the soft sand at the bottom stairs, I was shocked at what I saw there right in front a me--a dead dolphin!
I had never seen anything like this before. I couldn't help but think that this dolphin was a powerful sign. But what did it mean? I really didn't know, but what I decided was that I could find a positive, empowering meaning in it. So I knelt down beside the beautiful, silvery blue, six-foot long body and opened to the spirit of this dead dolphin. Immediately, I felt its presence with me. Not only that, I felt the joyful presence of the entire school of living dolphins with which it played in the warm ocean waters. I invited all these loving friends to join me and to join us in bringing the powerful energy of love into this meeting between presidents.
A few hours later, both presidents' delegations walked into the beautiful, beachside meeting room where I and several others had been waiting. I was quite surprised when President Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, left the delegation and looking like he knew me, walked over with a warm smile and shook my hand saying, "It's great to have you here." I've never talked to him before. In fact, I didn't even realize who he was when I saw him at our last meeting in New York a month ago. I wondered if possibly he felt all of the loving energy I helped invite into the room last month.
After the initial bilateral meeting, we all moved into the warmly decorated luncheon room, where I took my place right next to President Bush at the center of the banquet table. A short while into the luncheon, I had another surprise when the Indonesian expert on the National Security Council, Karen Brooks, came over and gave me a big long kiss on the cheek. I've had a few conversations with her over the years, but don't at all know her well. President Bush was also very friendly with me, asking me if I needed water, and then later commenting that it must be hard for me to interpret during the whole lunch and not get anything to eat. I wondered if they felt the loving presence which I was helping to bring to these meetings.
The most unexpected surprise, however, happened later during the lunch, when I took a moment to open to all of your energy. As I felt all of your wonderful love and support, I suddenly had a huge realization. I saw that I was still carrying judgment which created separation between me and those around me at this luncheon. I saw that there was a deeply important lesson here for me. I realized that the purpose for my being at these meetings was not only about channeling love and divine energies, it was also about me opening to see the divinity in each person there present. I saw that my own arrogance (my greatest challenge in life) saw me there as "saving the world." Yet by seeing myself as somehow better than everyone there, I was also creating more dissonance in the world!
In an instant, I got it. I acknowledged those judgmental thoughts which keep me from loving, and then asked them to step aside. Opening to this powerful realization, I looked around and saw that each person there was in their own way a manifestation of the divine. I saw that even though I don't at all agree with many of their policies, all of these leaders were only doing what they believed was best.
This was quite an unexpected surprise. I found myself very humbled to feel all of your love pouring into the room, yet my own judgment had kept me from allowing my love to flow freely. I really got it that although I will continue to work towards stopping the negative behaviors of our leaders, it is even more important that I do this while recognizing that these people--like all people--are creations of the divine, and that I can honor their spirits even while working to stop them from creating more fear and violence in the world. I saw that I need to continue to work on my own judgment and arrogance if I truly want to help this world move towards a more loving, harmonious way of being.
Interestingly enough, a number of times during these meetings those present talked about respecting the differences between our cultures and faiths. This was particularly true in the third meeting which was between President Bush and five of Indonesia's religious leaders who shared their thoughts very openly. I especially appreciated the Buddhist leader who talked about the Earth as being home to us all and humanity as being family to us all. I was quite impressed with the quality and depth of this interchange.
So it was a day filled with surprises. Thank you so much for joining with me in powerfully inviting our leaders to open to creating more love and harmony in the world. Thank you, especially, for helping me to open to some deep learning and healing in myself. I see so clearly that working on healing my own arrogance is one of the biggest contributions I can make towards creating more peace and love in the world. May we all find ways to bring more love and harmony into our own lives, and into the world. I wish you all many, many blessings, and may ever more love and joy pour into all of our lives.
All the darkness of the world cannot put out the light of a single candle.
Thanks for sharing in these inspiring stories with us. We wish you lots of love, inspiration, and all the very best in the months ahead.
www.momentoflove.org - Every person in the world has a heart
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www.WantToKnow.info - Reliable, verifiable information on major cover-ups
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