Inspiring Stories of Love, Healing, & Empowerment
Issue Number 28
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 four inspiring stories for this issue are:
Finding My Father – Scott Kalechstein
"Good work, Scott. Now it's time to find your father."
When I participated in a retreat with my Mom in 1991, those were the last words the facilitator spoke to me. Find my father? What did he mean by that? Somehow I knew healing my relationship with Dad was vital, but how to go about it was another story. At the time the gulf between us seemed insurmountable, and I did not take the facilitator's words to heart. My feelings of being criticized and rejected by Dad were my deepest wound.
Before he was 30, my father fought in World War II, became a doctor, and married my mother. Their first two children were girls, and then I, the final one, plopped out. I can imagine my father's excitement about having a son, someone to guide from boyhood to manhood, to continue the family name, someone to be proud of, perhaps even someone to follow in his footsteps. In my early years I was the apple of his eye, and he was my knight in shining armor. We played sports and games, and often went fishing together.
As adolescence approached, however, it became abundantly clear that my feet were hell bent on following another path – any path but his! In school I was having behavioral problems. I was feeling all kinds of difficult feelings about myself and my life, feelings that I needed help sorting out and understanding. I expressed my inner angst by becoming a class clown and rebel, defying any and all rules.
To my credit, I was very creative and original in my acting out. I also displayed signs of brilliance in the subjects I was interested in. But when report card time rolled around, I was filled with dread. Having my parents read those things was a very traumatic experience for me. Sometimes I was punished. I got more upset each time my parents' disapproving magnifying glass was focused on my poor grades and attention getting schemes. I responded by doing more things that would bring me disapproval and punishment.
Eventually, I learned that I would be treated less harshly if I punished myself, so my inner critic was born. My parents saw me being hard on myself, and so eased up on me. Self-reproach is a great protection plan, and being skilled in guilt and self-criticism was a large part of the shadow side of our family tradition.
My dad had no idea how to deal with me. He grew silent and distant, erecting a wall and pretending that he didn't care. That was even more painful to me than my mother's voiced disapproval. I hated him for that, and expressed my anger just as covertly, by also pretending that I didn't want anything to do with him. We lived under the same roof, but we were a thousand miles away from each other.
I continued to have trouble with school until the time I chose to drop out and pursue my interests in music and metaphysics. I became totally focused on my spiritual growth, the quest for enlightenment, and God – a fact that sent shivers through my father's mind. My father, somewhat of an atheist, had given birth to a son who was thumbing his nose at intellectual, practical concerns, and doing the "God" thing. While I don't believe my spiritual searching was simply an expression of my war with my father, he sure took it that way. There were many hard feelings between us, feelings that hardened into cement as time went by.
For much of my twenties, I went about my life without much of a relationship with my dad. We had stopped trying to change each other, but the walls remained, thick and cold between us. We had both written off the relationship as incapable of improvement.
Things all began changing four years after that facilitator told me it was time to deal with Dad. Finally taking the facilitator's advice, I wrote my father the below letter, and he wrote one back. Two human beings with a history of separateness began to cross old, outdated borders and to get to know each other.
I have been thinking a lot about you these days, and I want you to know my thoughts. It seems to me that in my pain, confusion and my struggle to define myself as someone separate from you, I rejected you entirely, along with everything you stood for. Lately I've been seeing that in my rebellion, I have set aside a part of myself that has not been allowed to develop and that can make me a more whole person inside. I have come to regret that rebellious side of my personality, and I am setting out to make changes.
You tried to teach me, by your example, how to be a disciplined, reliable provider for oneself and for a family. You showed me how to live safely in the world, with a sense of security and structure. You modeled success in ways that I did my best not to emulate. And I am feeling very sorry about that. It was as if I turned away from your most powerful way of showing me that you loved me – the way you lived your life.
Dad, I can sense that my work in the world, my relationships with women and my sense of self-esteem are all affected by this stance. I am working diligently in my life to develop within myself the qualities you tried to pass on to me. Ouch! It's hard for a thirty-two year old with Peter Pan Syndrome to become an adult. But my life does depend on it.
Dad, you are a part of me, and it's time I stopped resisting that and started accepting and working with the gifts you have given me. You have passed on to me a legacy of character traits that are my missing link in my development as a person.
I love you, Dad. I don't want to wait until you are on your deathbed, or until you are gone, to feel and to express that. You have given me so much. I want you to know, as late as it may be, that I am beginning to receive and to learn from you and your life. Growing up is a scary thing, but I'm getting there!
Sending the letter felt like a huge, but necessary risk. How would he respond to such a baring of my soul? I waited for his reply, nervously opening up the mail each day. Each time the phone rang, I imagined it was him. What would he say to me? What would I say to him? Would my letter make a difference, or would I end up regretting that I ever reached out? Ten days after I sent my letter, I got his response. I opened it up and started crying after the first sentence, right there in the Postal Annex.
Your letter has touched me deeper than I can ever convey to you in words. I cried like a baby during and after reading it. You have come a long way, farther than you realize! Scott, don't berate yourself for rejecting me and my values and my world. It was I who rejected you when you didn't conform to what I wanted for you. Rejection is something you learned from me! I blame myself. Don't forget, I was supposedly the adult, and you were the child. I should have handled things wiser and more maturely.
Scott, listen to me very carefully. Let's not dwell on the past, except if it can help us understand the present and prevent us from making the same mistakes over again. As I said before, you have come a long way, and I have reacted to your changes very positively. You say growing up is scary and difficult. Please remember, I am still trying to grow up! Let's help each other.
Scott, I love you very much. I always have! I hope any scars are temporary and reversible.
I read the letter again and again. Who was this wise, tender, approachable man? Was this my father? I called him up. "Dad, I got your letter." "And I, yours, Scott." We both fumbled for words, but couldn't find any. Finally, my father said, "Scott, I'm all choked up right now. I can't seem to talk." "I feel the same, Dad." Another clumsy, but heart-filled silence. We both managed to say, "I love you", and then had to get off the phone. The feelings were too rich for words, but a new beginning was acknowledged.
I visited my family soon after that. My time with my father was sweet and meaningful. I found myself genuinely interested in him, his past, his dreams, his regrets. I asked him questions as if we were just starting out. We had some significant catching up to do.
We speak on the phone often these days. It's not always easy to talk to him. I question at times how much to reveal, and what to talk about. Sometimes it flows, and sometimes it feels awkward. We are profoundly different in our beliefs, our lifestyles and our frames of reference. But we are two men relating to each other in the present, not burdened by the past, expressing our caring and support.
For my father and I, both expertly trained in the self-defense of hiding our hearts to cover up our hurt, our current relationship is somewhat of a miracle. We are both finding out together that love is stronger than steel, and that the pain of the past can be put behind us. For men in this culture to be more interested in being close than in being right is indeed something to celebrate!
Special Note: Scott Kalechstein is an accomplished musician and healer. To take a look at his fun and inspiring website, click here.
"The holiest place on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love."
A Course in Miracles
A Blessing of Love for the Earth – Anonymous
May the blessings
of divine love be upon the earth as a being,
And upon all those associated with it, without exclusion,
So that the progress of the earth and those associated with it
Toward their spiritual potential might be facilitated,
And the transformation of the earth might thereby be expedited,
From a sphere beset by so much fear and conflict
To one where love and harmony might prevail as the basis of social interaction,
And where compassion and concern for the common good might flourish.
And further, that all plans, designs and conspiracies,
By any individuals or groups whatsoever,
for the conquest or domination of the earth and those that live upon it,
In violation of universal law or in violation of the best interests of all who are concerned,
Might fail and come to naught, or, by the grace of God,
Be turned to the service of the good of all concerned.
And further, that all secret tyrannies affecting the earth,
Perpetrated by any individuals or groups,
Which exercise control or manipulation upon humankind,
Or which perpetrate oppression upon humankind,
In violation of universal law, the best interests of all concerned, or the of freedom of choice,
Might come to light
So that knowledge of the truth of these matters
Might enable humanity's freedom from such oppression.
And further, that the success of all endeavors
In pursuit of the common good of all humanity
And the best interests of the earth and those associated with it,
Might be facilitated.
And further, that those who pursue the good of all concerned
Might be strengthened to withstand
Any opposition to their efforts
From those who oppose the good of all.
Let these things be made so only in accord
With the wisdom and judgment of the Supreme Being,
And with universal law and the best interests of all concerned.
And lastly, if it is beneficial to all concerned
That this blessing be shared with others,
Then let the Holy Spirit guide its dissemination.
So be it.
If I were an angel with mighty wings
I would cover the whole of the earth
And I would offer shelter to all
To man and beast, young and old, the good and the bad alike
If I were an angel with mighty wings
This I swear
And if I were a great leader of men
I would call to them with a fiery voice
And I would make them listen
To the cries in the dark, to the lost and desperate, the poor and the weak
If I were a great leader of men
This I swear
And if I were a person of wealth
I would wield my power with strength
And I would persuade and cajole
And soften the powers that be
If I were a person of great wealth
This I swear
But I am not, I am just a woman of middle age
Listening in the silent night
To the muted howling of a lonely dog down the street
And pondering these strange twilight times
When what should be is not what is
And the daily news
Tries my resolve
With each and every breath
And I imagine men and women all along my street
Tossing and turning like me in the dark,
Cursing the men in power and the ones who put them there
Grieving and grasping for what is not
And praying with a divided heart
For help, for hope
To a god
That escapes understanding
And as much as I am tempted to hate
And as much as I want to drown in sorrow
Giving myself over to futility and rage
As much as I want to be the angel, oh the angel with mighty wings
And the irresistible leader of men
And the person of wealth and power
They are indulgences in which I could loose myself
Never to return
To the miracle of the small things
That you and I
Call into existence in the face of all odds
So I sit in silence, breathing softly
Holding on to what I know to be true
And watch above the roofs the full moon rising
White and lovely in the urban night
In which terror and love may share the same address
And the stranger next to you could be the one
Who adds his breath to the misty possibility
That I sense taking form
In the weaving of faith and kindness
That stretches from house to house, from city to city
Across the deserts and plains
Too Late–by Linda Apple
From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living Your Dreams
It was an unusually busy day for the hospital staff on the sixth floor. Ten new patients were admitted and Nurse Susan spent the morning and afternoon checking them in.
Her friend Sharron, an aide, prepared ten rooms for the patients and made sure they were comfortable. After they were finished she grabbed Sharron and said, "We deserve a break. Let's go eat."
Sitting across from each other in the noisy cafeteria, Susan noticed Sharron absently wiping the moisture off the outside of her glass with her thumbs. Her face reflected a weariness that came from more than just a busy day.
"You're pretty quiet. Are you tired, or is something wrong?" Susan asked.
Sharron hesitated. However, seeing the sincere concern in her friend's face, she confessed, "I can't do this the rest of my life, Susan. I have to find a higher-paying job to provide for my family. We barely get by. If it weren't for my parents keeping my kids, well, we wouldn't make it."
Susan noticed the bruises on Sharron's wrists peeking out from under her jacket.
"What about your husband?"
"We can't count on him. He can't seem to hold a job. He's got . . . problems."
"Sharron, you're so good with patients, and you love working here. Why don't you go to school and become a nurse? There's financial help available, and I'm sure your parents would agree to keep the kids while you are in class."
"It's too late for me, Susan; I'm too old for school. I've always wanted to be a nurse, that's why I took this job as an aide; at least I get to care for patients."
"How old are you?" Susan asked.
"Let's just say I'm thirty-something."
Susan pointed at the bruises on Sharron's wrists. "I'm familiar with 'problems' like these. Honey, it's never too late to become what you've dreamed of. Let me tell you how I know."
Susan began sharing a part of her life few knew about. It was something she normally didn't talk about, only when it helped someone else.
"I first married when I was thirteen years old and in the eighth grade."
"My husband was twenty-two. I had no idea he was violently abusive. We were married six years and I had three sons. One night my husband beat me so savagely he knocked out all my front teeth. I grabbed the boys and left.
"At the divorce settlement, the judge gave our sons to my husband because I was only nineteen and he felt I couldn't provide for them. The shock of him taking my babies left me gasping for air. To make things worse, my ex took the boys and moved, cutting all contact I had with them.
"Just like the judge predicted, I struggled to make ends meet. I found work as a waitress, working for tips only. Many days my meals consisted of milk and crackers. The most difficult thing was the emptiness in my soul. I lived in a tiny one-room apartment and the loneliness would overwhelm me. I longed to play with my babies and hear them laugh."
She paused. Even after four decades, the memory was still painful. Sharron's eyes filled with tears as she reached out to comfort Susan. Now it didn't matter if the bruises showed.
Susan continued, "I soon discovered that waitresses with grim faces didn't get tips, so I hid behind a smiling mask and pressed on. I remarried and had a daughter. She became my reason for living, until she went to college.
Then I was back where I started, not knowing what to do with myself - until the day my mother had surgery. I watched the nurses care for her and thought: I can do that. The problem was, I only had an eighth-grade education. Going back to high school seemed like a huge mountain to conquer. I decided to take small steps toward my goal. The first step was to get my GED. My daughter used to laugh at how our roles reversed. Now I was burning the midnight oil and asking her questions."
Susan paused and looked directly in Sharron's eyes. "I received my diploma when I was forty-six years old."
Tears streamed down Sharron's cheeks. Here was someone offering the key that might unlock the door in her dark life.
"The next step was to enroll in nursing school. For two long years I studied, cried and tried to quit. But my family wouldn't let me. I remember calling my daughter and yelling, 'Do you realize how many bones are in the human body, and I have to know them all! I can't do this, I'm forty-six years old!' But I did. Sharron, I can't tell you how wonderful it felt when I received my cap and pin."
Sharron's lunch was cold, and the ice had melted in her tea by the time Susan finished talking. Reaching across the table and taking Sharron's hands, Susan said, "You don't have to put up with abuse. Don't be a victim - take charge. You will be an excellent nurse. We will climb this mountain together."
Sharron wiped her mascara-stained face with her napkin. "I had no idea you suffered so much pain. You seem like someone who has always had it together."
"I guess I've developed an appreciation for the hardships of my life," Susan answered. "If I use them to help others, then I really haven't lost a thing. Sharron, promise me that you will go to school and become a nurse. Then help others by sharing your experiences.
Sharron promised. In a few years she became a registered nurse and worked alongside her friend until Susan retired. Sharron never forgot her colleague or the rest of her promise.
Now Sharron sits across the table taking the hands of those who are bruised in body and soul, telling them, "It's never too late. We will climb this mountain together."
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.
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