Inspiring Stories of Love, Healing, & Empowerment
Issue Number 20
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.
Moment of Love: Inviting Love into Our Hearts-Fred Burks & friends
Moment of Love
Every person in the world has a heart.
Every heart has a place within
that wants only to love and be loved.
Let us connect with that
place of love in our own heart
and in the hearts of those around us.
Let us take a moment now
to open to the heart connection
we share with all people through love.
Thoughts similar to those written above flowed into me during one of my weekly evenings of silence and meditation. The idea excited me of having a short prayer or meditation which anyone could use to powerfully inspire others to remember that every person in the world is worthy of our love. Several friends helped to craft and refine the final message above. We've now developed an inspiring website which opens with this message. The website goes on to suggest forming Circles of Love–gatherings designed to support us in inviting more love and joy into our lives and the lives of all around us. We invite you to join us at www.momentoflove.org.
Kevin and God–Author Unknown
I envy Kevin.
My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped outside his closed door to listen. "Are you there, God?" he said. "Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed." I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.
Kevin was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas, and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.
I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever
dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work
at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to
eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed. The only
variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the
washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.
Kevin does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores. And Saturdays–oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. "That one's goin' to Chi-car-go!" Kevin shouts as he claps his hands. His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.
And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips. He doesn't know what it means to be discontent. His life is simple. He will never know the entanglements of wealth or power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be. His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, nor does he leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax.
Kevin is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God. Not confined by intellectual reasoning, he approaches his faith as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an "educated" person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.
In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.
It is then I realize that perhaps Kevin is not the one with the handicap - I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I don't trust them to God's care. Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God. And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed. Kevin won't be surprised at all!
The Global Non-violent Peace Force–Co-founder David Hartsough
Story by Kate Rope
David Hartsough is quietly building an army. A veteran of the civil rights struggle in the US and a peace activist who's been on the front lines of some of the most destructive clashes of the last half century, Hartsough is traveling the globe to rally a force that will march into the danger zones of the world armed with only a commitment to peace. Born from the work left unfinished by Mahatma Gandhi some 70 years ago, it's a hard-sell in times like these, but Hartsough is an experienced and persuasive salesman. He knows nonviolence can work because he has spent his life in the field.
Hartsough's early teachers were Gandhi, whom he read as a child, Martin Luther King, whom he met as a teenager, and his father, who risked his life in the early years of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. A Congregationalist minister who later became a Quaker, Hartsough's father went to the Middle East when David was eight years old to bring tents and medicine to refugees displaced by the first Israel-Palestine war. ``My father gave sermons in church on the Good Samaritan story, and it really impressed me that he was not just preaching it but was willing to risk his life on the belief that `everyone is my neighbor','' he recalls.
After a year spent at an elite, almost entirely white college on the East Coast of the United States, Hartsough heard that Howard University, a black college in Washington, DC, needed white students. Deciding to practice what he was preaching, he transferred to Howard in 1959, and there he received a lesson more valuable than anything else he could have learned: the power of peaceful resistance.
In 1960, all across the southern states of the US, people began protesting the segregation of lunch counters. So, every Saturday, Hartsough and his black friends would leave DC, which had already been desegregated, and cross into Maryland. They would sit at a lunch counter there until they were arrested. After spending the weekend in jail singing freedom songs, they'd be released in time for classes on Monday, only to be back in action the following Saturday.
Hartsough stayed clear of nearby Virginia, which was home not only to the American Nazi Party but also to a law that mandated a year's prison sentence and a thousand-dollar fine to anyone who protested at a lunch counter. ``We didn't have a thousand dollars and we didn't want to spend a year in prison,'' says Hartsough laughing. But when months passed and no one challenged the racist law there, he and his friends mustered their courage, did some extra training in nonviolence, and crossed the state line.
``Twelve of us went in and sat down at this lunch counter at the People's Drugstore in Arlington, Virginia, and within minutes there were cars and sirens coming from all directions. They didn't arrest us, but neither were they going to serve us any food. We stayed there for two days, and it was the most difficult two days of my life.'' Hartsough and his friends endured vicious name-calling, lit cigarettes being dropped down their shirts, punches so hard they were knocked off their stools to the floor where they were kicked, and members of the American Nazi Party sporting swastikas and brandishing photos of apes, asking malevolently, ``Is we or is we ain't equal?''
At the end of the second day, as Hartsough sat in meditation trying to think about loving his enemies, a man approached him from behind. ``He said to me, `you nigger-lover', and he had this horrible look of hatred on his face; `if you don't get out of this store in two seconds, I'm going to stab this through your heart'.'' In the man's hand was a switchblade. ``I had two seconds to decide if I really believed in nonviolence, and I looked this man right in the eye, and I said, `Friend, do what you believe is right, and I'll still try and love you.' It was quite amazing, because his jaw began to fall and his hand began to drop and then he left the store.''
The most difficult part was to come. The protest had been on newspaper front pages. An angry crowd of 500 had gathered outside the drugstore, armed with rocks and firecrackers and threatening to kill the 12. "Some friendly newspaper reporters had their cars outside and got us out of there alive. We went back to Washington, and for six days we were shaking and wondering, `Do we have the courage to go back and do it again?'''
But they didn't have to make that choice. On the sixth day, the call came that the lunch counters in Arlington were now open to all. ``That taught me a very powerful lesson,'' says Hartsough, ``That by acting on our conscience, we got those people to act on their conscience, and those people got the society to act on its conscience. You don't need millions of people ... even a few can make change.''
Having this and many more experiences like it under his belt, Hartsough and others have created the Global Nonviolent Peace Force with the belief that small numbers can make a big difference. The Peace Force is a corps of civilians trained in active nonviolent techniques that will be sent to areas of conflict around the world to protect human rights and create the space for peaceful resolution of differences. At the invitation of NGOs or other parties, the corps will enter combat areas to provide unarmed escorts for peaceworkers and training in active nonviolence, as well as summon the attention of the world. Hartsough already has 10 informal invitations from places including Sri Lanka, Burma, Korea, Mindanao in the Philippines, Columbia, and Zimbabwe.
Hartsough wants his peace force to march right down
the middle path between doing nothing and bombing, so that places like Sri
Lanka, now possibly on the precipice of peace, can be delivered there rather
than disintegrate into further acts of death and destruction.
Peace doesn't come cheap. Hartsough and his colleagues need to raise a pretty penny by peace-movement standards - $8 million a year - a sum that may be even harder to gather in the wake of Sept. 11. He is quick to point out, however, that this amount is equal to what the world spends on the military every four minutes. If they can secure the funding, they hope to have the force fully operational with 2,000 active members, 4,000 reservists by 2010. Hartsough reasons "The United States has spent trillions of dollars on military security, bombers, planes, nuclear weapons, the CIA, FBI ... and that got us zero security. It didn't protect one person on September 11. Isn't it time to look at an alternative way to get security?"
``After Martin Luther King was killed, I was devastated, because he gave so much hope for a new kind of America with him as a leader. But I finally came out of that depression feeling that the only thing we've got is for many of us to become like King,'' Hartsough reflects. ``Today we have a whole lot of local leaders like him that most of the world doesn't even know about. They're in Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Latin America, Africa and Thailand.'' ``I have felt ever since that time in Arlington, Virginia that we don't have to be just subjects of history. We can help make it.''
For more information on the growing Global Non-violent Peace Force, visit www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org or email [email protected].
Cuckoo Eggs -Nancy Smeltzer
It's said that a cuckoo bird never builds a nest. She lays her eggs in with those of another kind of bird, and flies away. When the cuckoo young hatch, they're cared for by the unsuspecting mother bird as if they were her own. Nurtured with all of the other fledglings, the cuckoos grow and leave the nest to repeat the random scattering of their kind.
We all have our own nests of cuckoo eggs. Difficult past experiences have laid painful balls of negativity in our psyches. They lie dormant, waiting, until something triggers them. Then, out they fly, full blown, to frame our responses to others. One of my own that gets a lot of flight time is "I'm not good enough." If that "egg" gets opened, then most of what follows its' release is affected by that perception.
"If only I could be...(smarter, thinner, stronger, whatever)", I think, "then I would be lovable". I spend so much time spinning that negative thought that little of what follows is fairly perceived by me. The result is that any interaction with others usually leads to misunderstandings, as the other person gets hit full force with the powerful wings of my hatched cuckoo bird.
So, how do you rid yourself of these painful, untrue, "cuckoo" beliefs. A first step might be to recognize their existence. It's hard to knock the egg out of the nest if you don't even know it's there. The next step could be to replace the hurtful thoughts with what is true and good about yourself. I was at a seminar where a psychologist spoke of a technique she uses to overcome negativity. She asks her patients to make a list of fifty things that are good about themselves. Most people find the task to be nearly impossible, yet they would have no trouble filling the page with what was wrong about themselves. Then start with five things, she suggests.
What a sad statement about our society that many of us don't give ourselves credit for the good we do. I know that an accounting of my own assets would be difficult to start. So, I'm starting right away. My goal is to begin that list, and use each affirmation to replace my cuckoo eggs. I'm really tired of the effect they have on my life, and I want them to hatch for the last time and fly away. If not far, far away, then at least, could somebody take those eggs and scramble them?
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
www.personalgrowthcourses.net - Dynamic online courses powerfully expand your horizons
www.WantToKnow.info - Reliable, verifiable information on major cover-ups
www.weboflove.org - Strengthening the Web of Love that interconnects us all