Inspiring Spiritual Stories of Love, Healing, & Empowerment
Issue Number 39
Welcome to Inspirations! Global Community For All sends out this e-zine filled with inspiring spiritual stories of love, healing, and empowerment once every three months. We share these wonderfully inspiring spiritual 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 spiritual commitment to love, heal, and empower; to open to divine guidance; and to choose what's best for all.
The four spiritual stories of love for this issue are:
Profoundly Inspiring Video Clip – Challenge Day
Miracle in the Wilderness – Amy Racina & San Francisco Chronicle
From 304 Pounds to a Half Marathon in Two Years – Debbra
Spiritual Story of the Candle That Couldn't Be Put Out - George M. Maxwell, Jr.
Profoundly Inspiring Video Clip – Challenge Day
Challenge Day is a one-day program offered in hundreds of high schools and junior highs every year which opens students to seeing their common humanity in a way that is simply miraculous. It is not uncommon by the end of the day to find rival gang members hugging each other and saying I'm sorry, even with tears in their eyes. "I am truly sorry to the millions of people I have picked on," commented a former school bully as he hugged a gangly boy he had tormented for several years.
The profoundly inspiring 15-minute video clip of an Emmy award winning documentary below depicts the amazing story of this most incredible organization. Challenge Day has transformed the lives of countless teenagers and even entire schools across North America. Thousands of testimonials every year describe in glowing words how this one-day program dramatically improves teenagers' lives. Some had even been contemplating suicide before Challenge Day, yet now see meaning and real possibilities in their lives. Because of this empowering work, Challenge Day has even been featured on the Oprah Show. Watch the powerful 15-minute clip of this video and see if you aren't moved and inspired by this life-changing program.
https://www.personalgrowthcourses.net/video/challenge_day - Inspiring 15-minute video of Challenge Day
For more information on this empowering work which continues to spread inspiration and transformation every day, explore the engaging material on the Challenge Day website at http://www.challengeday.org. To order copies of this inspiring video, click here. For several other of the best video clips on the Internet, click here.
Miracle in the Wilderness–Amy Racina & San Francisco Chronicle
Every day is a good day for Amy Racina. It wasn't always that way, but crashing 60 feet into a granite ravine changed her perspective.
A seasoned backpacker, Racina was on a solo trip two years ago in the Tehipite Valley, a seldom-visited area of Kings Canyon National Park, which is in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada in California. She was 12 days into a 162-mile trip when she lost the trail she was on. As she carefully crisscrossed down the valley looking for the trail, the ground suddenly gave way and she found herself careening through the air.
"So this is how it ends," she thought in the seconds before she slammed into a granite ravine. The fall nearly killed Racina, but the miracle -- the first of many -- was that it didn't.
Racina has published a book recounting her rescue and arduous recovery. Angels in the Wilderness ... is titled for the three hikers who saved her life after they came upon her even though she had been off-trail when she fell in a remote area visited only by a handful of people each season.
Racina, 48, has been backpacking since she was 16. She frequently hikes in the Sierra, logging thousands of miles, many of them alone. She is a backpacker's backpacker, so obsessive about reducing the weight in her pack that she cuts the edges off maps. She is a single mom of a teenage son and runs two small businesses ... out of her home with a determined, no-nonsense personality.
So after the fall, she calmly assessed the damage: Her legs were shattered -- one with an open wound exposing bone and tissue, and although she didn't yet know it, her left hip was fractured in two places; her face was badly bruised -- a front tooth had been chipped; and her hands and arms were bruised but not broken.
In what she considered a stroke of luck, her pack had fallen next to her in the ravine. She used her limited first-aid supplies to clean and dress her wounds and a sarong she always carried to wrap her right knee, which was now a gaping wound.
She set her mind to the task at hand: survival. She planned tasks she could accomplish: make soup, get water, keep warm. She even read a book she had brought, a historical novel about Aztec culture. Racina says her desire to stay alive kept her motivated. "I had been ambivalent about life at times and been very depressed ... but now I knew I really wanted to live," she said.
"I knew that the chances of anyone coming to my rescue were very remote," she said. For three days and nights, she held despair at bay. Although she now believes she was in shock the entire time, she kept herself on a regimented schedule and spent most of her waning energy dragging her limp body a few hundred feet downstream toward where she thought was the nearest trail. The nearest trail head was some 20 miles away.
Every now and then she called out -- against all odds that someone would pass by and hear her. On the fourth day, amazingly, someone did. In another of what Racina calls "miracles," Jake, a man with hearing loss who was hiking nearby with his wife and a friend, heard her calls. These three -- Jake Van Akkeren, his wife, Leslie Bartholic, and their friend Walter Keiser -- are the "angels in the wilderness."
It took awhile because she was so far from the trail, but Van Akkeren finally found her. Racina had not let herself feel the fear, despair and pain of her ordeal until that point. "I couldn't afford to (feel) ... but when I saw Jake, I burst into tears for the first time," she said.
The next morning, Keiser -- a former marathon runner with a heart condition -- ran 10 miles uphill out of the valley to get help. He came upon a group of campers -- firefighters from nearby Reedley (Fresno County) on vacation. When they heard his story, they bolted into action. One of them saddled a horse and raced off to his car, 10 miles away through the mountains, where he used his cell phone to alert the park service to the emergency.
By the late afternoon, just before nightfall, Racina was airlifted out of the ravine by helicopter and flown to a hospital. Doctors said if her rescue had come one day later she probably would have died from her injuries, or at the very least lost her right leg. Despite her best efforts, she had lost blood, was dehydrated and fighting an infection. Yet rangers and medical personnel, while noting Racina's severe injuries, remarked on her demeanor: She was beaming. Racina was happy to be given another chance at life.
"This was one of the more amazing rescues because so many things fell into place to get her out that night," said Kings Canyon park ranger Debbie Brenchly, who was the first ranger to come to her rescue. "When I first saw Amy, she had an amazing smile, and a great attitude, and that is so important in making sure they get out OK," Brenchly said. She said the park conducts 60 to 80 search-and-rescue missions a year. On average there are four deaths in Kings Canyon each year.
Racina's rescue was only the beginning of her odyssey. She went through many operations -- seven on her mangled knee alone -- and spent three weeks in University Medical Center in Fresno. "I have enough metal in me to set off metal detectors at most airports," she says gleefully.
When she returned home to Sonoma County, she was in a wheelchair and still on IV fluids. Racina spent the next 10 months in a grueling physical therapy routine. Despite her doctors' prognosis -- that she might always walk with a limp -- Racina was determined to prove them wrong.
And she did. Less than a year after her fall, she was back hiking in her beloved Sierra Nevada -- even solo hiking. Racina isn't swayed by the argument that it is too risky to hike alone. "I don't consider it extreme risk. It's more dangerous to drive a car," she says. "I love this kind of experience enough so that even if I had died ... I would consider my time well spent."
Understandably, Racina often waxes philosophical about her second chance at life: "Whatever you're doing ... make sure it's worth your life to you."
She believes that God, or a spiritual entity, made the experience happen so that she could learn lessons about life. For Racina, who had suffered depression and had had a rather dim view of humankind, the first lesson was that she wanted to live. That realization, she says, makes her happy to be alive every day. "No day is as bad as one of those days in the ravine," she says with a laugh, adding that the "small stuff" just doesn't bother her anymore.
Another lesson for her was that people would love her even if she wasn't strong and capable all the time. Her friends and family mobilized to support her during her protracted recovery: shepherding her around in cars, changing her IV and her bed pans, cooking her meals, and generally showering her with love. Complete strangers pitched in to help or contributed to a Web site a friend had set up for her (www.helpingamy.com), which was closed after Racina no longer needed help.
"No one was more surprised than me," she said of the outpouring of support. "My relationship to humans has changed. ... I now think people are good." Racina says she believes her life was spared so she could tell her story. "People who have read my book have told me, 'You had this experience so that I wouldn't have to.' I hope that other people can learn these lessons without slamming into rock!" she says with a laugh.
Note: Amy's book is rated five stars out of five on amazon.com. For an even more inspiring life and death encounter which led to major transformation, don't miss the amazing true spiritual story of Mellon-Thomas Benedict at https://www.weboflove.org/neardeathexperience.
From 304 Pounds to a Half Marathon in Two Years
My story starts back in September of 2005, when I weighed in at my highest weight ever -- 304 pounds. I was fat and sick and tired of being fat, so I set out to lose the weight. With will and determination, I began.
Fast forward to spring of 2007. I finally was walking a 20-minute mile and could walk for an hour. I had shed around 40 pounds, and I decided I needed more of a challenge. I wanted to enter a race, but the Fifth Riverbank Run does not allow walkers, so I set out to find a race that would allow walking. I found The Grand Rapids Marathon and signed up before I realized what I was doing and changed my mind.
I continued with my 3-mile walks and started implementing a longer walk once a week. I actually started to look forward to my longer walks because it was a challenge to see how far I could go. My ultimate goal was to complete the 13.1 miles in less than four hours.
Somewhere around the first of July, I found I had lost a whopping total of 90 pounds. I had to start intervals of running with my walking, because I could not get my heart rate up to the fat burning stage. I did not like running at first, but somewhere along the way I started to get addicted. I had done a couple of pretend half marathons and was not sure I could finish under four hours, but thought it was possible.
Now fast forward to Oct. 28, 2007. I set out to walk the half marathon with a few runs here and there. Well that changed as well. I now tell people I ran a half marathon with a few walking breaks. There's something special about being encouraged by people who don't even know you, but who are taking their precious time to serve you, and even to have other runners come along and encourage you and tell you that you look great.
I also had decided toward the beginning of the race that, no matter what happened, I was not going to walk across that finish line. I was going to run no matter how I did it.
Somewhere around mile nine my runs started to slow down to the point where I would run one minute and then walk for two. So at a tenth of a mile before my 11-mile marker, I decided to see if I could run a tenth of a mile. I could not do it, so I was not sure how I was going to run that last tenth of a mile, but I was determined.
I turned the corner onto the road where the finish line was. There where just tons of people cheering everyone on, including me. They would say my name or my number, so I knew they were cheering for me even though they didn't know me.
When I reached the 13-mile marker, I started to run again and was not sure I could make it. I cannot explain where that last burst of energy came from other than it helped to have people cheering for you. And then, as I somehow managed to complete that last run to the finish line, I looked at the clock and saw the numbers 3:21! I realized that not only did I beat my four-hour time target, but I did it in well under 3.5 hours.
I was so excited when the paper was hung with my name on it and the time of 3:18:17. It took me three and a half minutes to get across the starting line, since I was so far back. I'm still in shock that I actually did it!
I can not say enough thank yous to all the people who put this together and for the fact that race director Don Kern stood there greeting everyone who crosses that finish line. I'll be back next year, though I plan to run the half without taking any walking breaks. I will also be more fit and at my goal weight, which will make it a lot easier to run. Then in 2009, I'm planning to run my first full marathon.
I know some people would say what I did was no big deal. And I know there are a lot of stories out there of people accomplishing the half or the full marathon only after going through many different trials. But the fact that at 40 years old and 220 pounds I ran 13.1 miles, and that I went from walking a 20 minute mile to running a 15 minute mile -- for me that is a big deal.
Thanks for listening to my story. I hope it might inspire someone to do something they think might be impossible. With the many stories I have heard on top of my own story, I now believe nothing is impossible. Everyone should experience a half marathon race at least once in their life.
Spiritual Story of the Candle That Couldn't Be Put Out–George M. Maxwell, Jr.
“All the darkness in the world cannot put out the light of a single candle”
These words appear on the tombstone of a woman who died in a nearby neighborhood several years ago. She had been born in the neighborhood to an alcoholic who often forgot to wash and feed her, but was adopted by a loving family who raised her with their three other daughters. She had gone off to college and then come back home to earn a living for herself and to help the children, the homeless and the needy who lived there. She was a home-grown symbol of success and care in a world that desperately needs such symbols.
The woman was then brutally murdered by a crack addict. The addict broke into her home one night, tied her up, left to buy drugs with the things he had stolen, and then returned later to rape and strangle her. There was no dispute about what had been done or who had done it. He pled guilty to the crime at trial. The prosecutors asked for the death penalty, and even the murderer thought that he deserved to die for what he had done.
The crime shattered the neighborhood and years later you can still feel the anguish caused by such a loss. For most of us, it doesn’t take too much imagination to feel the anger and desire for revenge that must have come with such anguish. There are some acts so revolting that they seem to define the persons who commit them. They don’t really even seem like people any more.
Yet, the woman’s step father, Hector Black, felt something else. During the sentencing phase of the trial, Hector read a prepared statement to the court that distinguished between what had been done and who had done it. Hector finished his statement by turning to look his daughter’s murderer in the eye and asking God to grant peace to everyone who had been wounded by the murder – including the murderer.
And Hector didn’t stop there. He was able to overcome his own hate for the murderer and began to write to the man in prison. Hector told the man that he had a reason to live. Hector told him that, even in prison, he could become a peacemaker -- a light in dark surroundings.
And the man, remembering the look in Hector’s eyes at the trial, began to write back and to look for ways to be the peacemaker that Hector described. As Hector gave up hating the man, the man gave up hating himself. As Hector found the strength to see the image of God in the man, the man found the strength to see the image of God in himself. With Hector’s help, the man found a life within himself.
I never met Hector, but I sometimes think about him. I don’t know that I am strong enough to do what he did, but I do know that what he did was become the instrument for life-giving power. He found the strength and courage to be the light that the darkness could not put out.
“All the darkness in the world cannot put out the light of a single candle”
Note: A wonderfully written account of this spiritual story appears as Chapter 10, “Loving the Monster,” in Field Notes on the Compassionate Life: A Search for the Soul of Kindness (Holtzbrinck Publishers, 2005), by Marc Ian Barasch. Quotations attributed to Hector Black have been taken from this account.
All the darkness of the world cannot put out the light of a single candle.
Thanks for sharing in these inspiring spiritual stories of love 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