A New York policeman has given the boot — two boots, actually — to a homeless man who was doing nothing but sitting peacefully on the sidewalk on a recent frigid night.
Police officer Larry DePrimo, of New York’s City’s Sixth Precinct, has drawn the attention of hundreds of thousands of Facebook users as a result of his actions. He was away from his usual precinct, assigned to patrol Times Square a few nights ago.
Officer DePrimo saw the homeless man sitting on the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue near Forty-Fourth Street, with bare feet. No shoes, no socks. So he gave him the boot. First, he bent down beside the man and said, “Hey, what’s up? Where are your shoes and socks?” The man replied simply, “I never had a pair of shoes.”
“All I remember.” the cop told the press later, “is that it as extremely cold outside, and all I wanted to do was help this gentleman.”
The policeman went to a nearby shoe store and said, “Look, this gentleman has no shoes and no socks. I need to get something for him. Something that will last. I don’t care what it cost.” He then spent $100 of his own money to buy a pair of thermal socks and insulated winter boots. The store clerk used his employee discount to cut the price in half.
The officer then knelt down next to the homeless man and put the socks and boots on him. A passerby from Arizona snapped a picture of the kind act and posted it on Facebook. It went viral within minutes. Soon, the officer was the subject of massive media coverage. He was brought before a press conference. He was on the morning talk shows. He was honored by the NYPD, personally presented special cufflinks by the city’s police commissioner.
“I feel very humbled,” he said, to be on the same force and in the same company “with all the officers who are real heroes,” who’ve put their life on the line in extreme situations. What he did, he told the press, with “nothing. I was just doing my job. But I just want to say that all cops really aren’t bad….and this is just something we do every day.”
All of us know this is true. For every rare instance where police have behaved poorly, there are thousands of moments such as this. We all know that. It is good to be made aware of it again with such heart-warming evidence.
To see the snapshot of Officer Larry DePrimo kneeling down to help the homeless man (who thanked the policeman profusely and then quietly walked away), click here.
Perhaps the greatest gift bestowed upon me was and is my sense of humor. I love to laugh and I absolutely love to make others laugh too. Yet these days I haven’t had much to laugh about. Life has presented me with some very painful and unwanted changes this year, and while it hasn’t always been easy, the ability to make light of my situation lives at the top of my go-to-list of favorite ways to make it through these tough times. When you get to the place where you can laugh, you know you are going to survive.
Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand. – Mark Twain
Laughter, it’s said, is the best medicine. And there is plenty of evidence to back that statement up, though I’m sure few would argue the point. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and even conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to provide balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens the load, releases burdens, inspires hopes, reconnects you to others, and keeps you grounded and balanced.
Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, cold, sniffle, or sneeze. When people are in a group and they hear someone laughing, they often join in spontaneously. Laughing with other people helps us deepen our connection with them. I dare you not to smile while watching someone having a really good laugh. You may be thinking right now of that last time you had one of those gut-busters yourself. You know the kind where your face hurts and you’re begging them to stop, no more, please, squeezing your cheeks, tears of joy flooding your eyes. Those are the best.
I always knew looking back on my tears would bring me laughter, but I never knew looking back on my laughter would make me cry. – Cat Stevens
Laughter can help restore us to a positive mental and emotional place, even while in the midst of deep grief. Laughter also triggers healthy physical conditions in the body, so it is essential to every health-and-wellness program. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and helps to protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Stress hormones are decreased as laughter reduces stress in ways like nothing else can.
Laughter can reduce chronic pain too. Medical studies have shown that just a few minutes of laughter can diminish chronic pain for up to a couple of hours. It allows us to tolerate discomfort more readily. Other studies have shown that laughter can increase energy while reducing stress and boost your immune system. Infection-fighting antibodies are released when you laugh. It also reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics. Is there any condition not benefited by laughter? I think not. Best of all, this medicine is free and easy to use. All you have to do is tickle that funny bone.
A day without laughter is a day wasted – Charlie Chaplin
If you have ever been to a Conversations with God retreat, you know we open our first night by getting to know who is in the room. We ask our participants to not only share who they are and what brought them to us, but also we invite them to tell a joke. It is a great way of easing us into the space, reducing the natural tension we all feel in those kinds of situations. It also helps set the stage for the deep emotional and spiritual work we come to do. The work is about enlightenment, which means, to lighten up.
Often the work we do can cause the room to become ‘heavy,’ especially when the sharing takes us to some of those very painful places. The challenges that are brought to the room by our participants are no joke, yet we notice every time that in the right moment laughter can provide an access to healing like nothing else can. It does so by creating the condition for us to see the other side of our life situations…the “lighter side.” Without a doubt, that, as much as anything, can create the space to heal even the most painful of situations we face as humans. I know this all to well right now. And as I said at the top of the article, humor has been one of my greatest tools and assets on my journey.
There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt. – Erma Bombeck
So this week let’s all help each other enjoy the benefits that laughter has to offer. Share your experience of how laughter has helped you through the tough times. Or maybe just share a joke or two (keep ’em clean). I am certain that I am not the only one that could use a good laugh right now. I will kick us off with the following silliness. 🙂
Four Catholic men and a Catholic woman were having coffee in St. Peters Square.
The first Catholic man tells his friends, “My son is a priest. When he walks into a room, everyone calls him ‘Father’.”
The second Catholic man chirps, “My son is a Bishop. When he walks into a room, people call him ‘Your Grace’.”
The third Catholic gent says, “My son is a Cardinal. When he enters a room, everyone bows their head and says ‘Your Eminence’.”
The fourth Catholic man says very proudly, “My son is the Pope. When he walks into a room, people call him ‘Your Holiness’.”
Since the lone Catholic woman was sipping her coffee in silence, the four men give her a subtle, “Well ………?”
She proudly replies, “I have a daughter, slim, tall, 38″ DD bust, 24″ waist and 34” hips. When she walks into a room, everybody says, “Oh, My God.”
(J.R. Westen, D.D. is a Holistic Health & Spiritual Counselor who has worked and presented side-by-side with Neale Donald Walsch for over a decade. He is passionate about helping individuals move beyond their emotional and spiritual challenges, transforming breakdowns into breakthroughs. His coaching provides practical wisdom and guidance that can be immediately incorporated to shift one’s experience of life. As is true for most impactful teachers, J.R.’s own struggles and triumphs inspired him to find powerful ways of helping others. Sober since June 1, 1986, J.R.’s passion for helping individuals move through intense life challenges drove him to also specialize in Addiction and Grief Recovery. J.R. currently shares his gift of counseling & coaching with individuals from around the world through the Wellness Center, Simply Vibrant, located on Long Island N.Y. In addition, he works with Escondido Sobering Services and serves on the Board of Directors for the Conversations with God Foundation. He can be contacted at JR@theglobalconversation.com, or to book an appointment, write firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Okay, we have all heard someone say that, whether it was in jest or someone actually meant “I am going to drink because I can‘t deal with you.” Oftentimes the loved ones of an addict will actually believe that they are causing the addict to use, and they may just be right.
By no means am I saying that the user would not be using if those around them simply conformed to their wishes. What I am saying is that the person who is in early stages of recovery has an enormous amount of guilt and shame to work through in order to maintain sobriety. The distractions of an unhealthy relationship can be the stumbling block the person in early recovery cannot hurdle.
The co-dependent has become so reactionary that they lose themselves totally in the others problem. They either obsess over how to gain or maintain sobriety for the abuser, or they demand reparations for all the past damage before the significant other is ready or able to give it. This is why it is so vital for the co-dependent to accept that they have been affected by the disease and face the dysfunction it has create in their own life. As we fall together, so too shall we grow together.
There are three possible outcomes for a recovering alcoholic or drug addicts and their families:
1. The spouse or family finds a program and recovers and the user recovers.
2. The spouse or family does not recover and the user relapses.
3. The spouse or family does not recover and the user leaves the family to stay in recovery.
I understand how hard it is for someone who has lived with a person in active addiction to accept that they have contracted the same disease. I know in the minds of many this sounds like an indictment on the “victim.” I assure you that it is not an attack. Your wounds are real, your anger is valid, and your inability to trust is understandable. What I am trying to convey here is that you have put life on hold while you did the best you could to try and get a handle on a seemingly impossible situation. In order for you to regain your sense of normalcy, you must engage yourself in the process of re-discovery of self.
We are in relationships to experience our highest thoughts about who we are and why we are here. In a functionally loving relationship, we work together for the highest good. My best asset to another is my own understanding of my purpose in life. When I take care of me, I am taking care of “we.” This is precisely what the 12-step programs are geared towards, redefining me in a healthy and positive way.
It is particularly important to define personal boundaries in a working relationship between a co-dependent and a person in recovery. In all relationships one must let their counterpart know what is acceptable and what is not. Most often we do not know what our boundaries are until they are crossed. Once we are aware of an issue, we must then find the most effective way to inform the other of our discovery.
Communication is something that in most cases had broken down many years prior to the point of both parties getting into recovery, yet it is essential to work towards finding a compassionate and understanding way of communication as soon as possible. Many times we don’t share our thoughts and feelings due to our own made-up story of possible outcomes of doing so. This is can no longer be acceptable in recovery. There is no room for sweeping our problems under the rug and acting like everything is fine. We must create a space that is safe for our self and our other to express themselves.
My suggestion to anyone who finds themselves affected by a significant other’s abuse would be to find an appropriate 12-step meeting, such as Al-Anon, or Alateen, CODA, Nar-Anon, etc. Determine what it is you would like to do moving forward and take steps towards doing that. Define what you will not accept and communicate that to the addict in your life.
(Kevin McCormack is a “Conversations with God” Life Coach, a Spiritual Helper on www.changingchange.net, and an addictions recovery advisor. To connect with Kevin, please email him at Kevin@theglobalconversation.com.)
Is God a being to be “feared”?
The idea that it is good and wonderful and something to be admired to be “God fearing” has been put back into the public arena by a young television star who has taken to the Internet to urge his fans go stop watching the program that made them his fans to begin with.
Angus T. Jones has been playing the role of Jake Harper on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men for ten years, and a few years ago (2010) became the highest paid child star in television, earning, at age 17, nearly $8 million in just two seasons. But earlier this year he acknowledged that he is these days experiencing some discomfort playing some of the story lines that were being written for his now older character on the show.
That discomfort apparently erupted full blown last week when Mr. Jones posted a video on YouTube saying that he no longer wanted to appear on the program, on which he has been a continuing character for a decade, declaring that the show conflicted with his religious views. Mr. Jones said he had just been baptized as a member of the Forerunner Christian Church.
In the video Mr. Jones went further. He asked his fans to stop watching Two and a Half Men and “filling your head with filth.” I have nothing to say about that. If Mr. Jones feels his own television program is “filth,” so be it.
(Mr. Jones has since released a statement in which he essentially says that he did not wish to personally insult or dishonor the show’s producer, director, cast, or crew with his remarks, all of whom he thanked for the opportunity and the help each have given him in show business — but he did not withdraw or disavow his assessment that show’s content was “filth.”)
What I would like to discuss here, however, is not the show’s content, but the content of Mr. Jones’ remarks about God. Mr. Jones has been quoted by news sources as saying on the YouTube video: “If I am doing any harm, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be contributing to the enemy’s plan…You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can’t. I’m not OK with what I’m learning, what the bible says, and being on that television show.”
So since this now world-famous young actor (the show is syndicated in several countries) has placed before a planetary audience his idea of what it means to be “a true God-fearing person,” I would like to place for the planet my idea of whether God means for each of us to be a God-fearing person. I would like to explore this in the days ahead here, and take a really close look at exactly what God wants in this regard.
But first, let me ask you. People from all over the world read this online newspaper, and this column. I’d be curious to know: What is your truth, what is your awareness, what is your own personal experience and understanding around the question: Does God want us, need us, request us, command us, to fear God? What is your knowing around this? What would be God’s reason for it?
Please leave your Comment here, below. Then, in the days ahead, I’ll get into what I think about what God wants.
I feel really stuck in life right now. I’m doing everything that I think I want to be doing (pursuing my master’s degree, working in my chosen field, developing my spirituality, maintaining my health) yet I often notice that amidst it all I feel stagnant and unfulfilled even. It doesn’t seem to add up. I don’t necessarily want to change anything about my life right now, at least the direction of it, but I also know I don’t want to feel this way. I would appreciate any insight you have on this please.
I’m going to answer your question with a question: what are you doing for fun? You see, in the quest to live a fulfilled life, we often put a lot of focus on the stuff that we believe brings us happiness (career/purpose, money, stability, health, family, personal growth, etc.). None of that is bad, of course, it just tends to carry a heavier energy of “seriousness,” an urgency to “get it done so I can be happy.” Without a healthy dose of fun and variety in the mix, as well as inviting mindfulness (aka “being” within the “doing”), it’s very easy to find ourselves feeling stuck and even unfulfilled. In fact, I believe fun is completely underrated in our society, that the mindset many people have that there’s only time for fun after the work is done is a huge disservice to their own happiness and well-being. Fun and variety are the fuel that allows us to keep going with all the other important things in life! And if you’re not having fun and enjoying what you’re doing, then what’s the point? (Okay, so you can tell I’m a bit passionate about this subject.)
Now, I recognize that I don’t know everything about your story, and I’m sure there are probably some other contributing factors to your feeling stuck, stagnant, and unfulfilled, but I’m going to give you a place to start:
~ Ask yourself how much “healthy” fun and variety you currently have in your life (i.e., the kind that fills you up, makes you feel good and doesn’t hurt anybody, least of all you). Then, if you can’t think of anything or there are only one or two things that you “sometimes” do, ask yourself:
~ “How can I add more healthy fun and variety into my life on a regular basis?” This may look like taking a class just for fun, joining a club, scheduling in consistent time to hang out with friends, or even including at least an hour of fun into your day EVERY day. Then do it. (I do the last one, by the way, as part of my work day. And I work more efficiently because of it.)
~ Also, ask yourself how you can be more present in each of those areas you’ve identified in your life (school, work, spirituality, health). A place to start might be in noticing what you love about each of those areas. Another idea would be to choose the state of being you wish you were in on any given day and simply be that (a whole other topic).
~ Finally, if all else fails, partner with someone to help you through it, to help you get to the underlying reason behind your “stuckness” and who can help you navigate your way to flow, fulfillment, happiness, joy and freedom. Hire a coach, work with a therapist, a spiritual counselor, whatever you feel drawn towards but do something. It’s so much easier (and faster) than trying to do it alone.
(Nova Wightman is a CWG Life Coach, as well as the owner and operator of Go Within Life Coaching, www.gowithincoaching.com, specializing in helping individuals blend their spirituality with their humanity in a way that makes life more enjoyable, easy, and fulfilling. She can be reached at Nova@theglobalconversation.com. )
(If you would like a question considered for publication, please submit your request to: Advice@TheGlobalConversation.com, where our team is waiting to hear from you.)
Whenever I sit down to write with the intention of sharing my thoughts, I think about the possibility that my personal challenges and breakthroughs might not be that different from what others are experiencing around the world—which makes sense if we believe We are All One. And I do. The circumstances for our individual growth may appear different, but perhaps what is being learned is virtually the same, and we bring those gifts back to the Collective: What you are experiencing matters.
This morning I looked closely at what I’ve encountered these past almost twelve months. If I were to describe it in two words, it would be “The Opposite.” In fact, it feels like the majority of what’s come down the pike during this last year has seemed like the opposite of what my Ego or Mind hoped would come, even having taken into consideration that “2012” might be bringing with it a few rough patches.
I think one of the toughest parts about being Spirit cloaked in Human form is that we don’t have access to “the whole picture.” We’re only seeing things from a limited perspective, not from a vantage point that helps us to see how any birth, any death, any ending or beginning that elicits extreme growth and change is intricately connected to all beings, everywhere, encouraging their evolution as well.
This week someone wrote to me and shared with me that her family just went through the second anniversary of having lost her seventeen-year-old son to cancer. This kind of loss simply can’t be made sense of in the Mind. And if there’s one thing I believe so many of the losses we’ve endured together in 2012 have brought each of us, it’s that realization.
So where do we go to make sense of it all, when we are moving through losses greater than we imagined we would face?
In these days and times, maybe we can only look at life’s current challenges through the eyes of the heart. We begin to make sense of our current crisis, loss or change in the heart, and then the mind can begin to grasp the greater purpose with more space and ease. Unlike the mind, the heart is where I have always found spaciousness, and peace. But it usually takes dire circumstances to turn me in that direction…
There’s a poem that came through me in my early thirties, during a time when I had been opened by circumstances that left me more vulnerable and raw and fragile than I had any idea I could be. It was my first “Dark Night of the Soul” and something that simply had to happen in order for me to evolve further. The title of the poem is a question. And the question is What Is It That You Were Given?
What is it that you were given?
I mean from the loss.
what was taken.
That very thing you could never live without:
secret or circumstance.
Now that It is gone
and you can no longer call It foundation—
what is it that you were given?
You know, and I know this:
there is a hollowing out.
Something comes and opens you up
And from that moment on
you are no longer immune to this world.
You wake, you wander—
every familiar now a foreign.
You walk as through water
until you make it back to your bed
and finally, even there, your sheets,
your own pillow’s scent—different—
as if daily someone repaints your room,
disturbs a cherished memento.
You see, sometimes we are emptied.
We are emptied because Life wants us to know
It’s not a very comfortable poem. I wasn’t sure what to feel once it came through as I sat reading it, tears streaming. But in that moment it felt like some Greater part of me that hadn’t yet fully come into this life, finally did. And it was as if all those precious fragments of light that had been separated and strewn across the universe through my grief were brought back together, and made into something New—albeit a bedraggled and bewildered New.
Dear, Precious One—what is it you’ve been given, through your loss? In my monthly newsletter, I posed this question and invited readers to write to me with their story; their discoveries; the Gratitude found amidst the Grief. This process was not meant to open wounds, but to help to heal them; to empower each of us to name The Gifts, as difficult as that is sometimes, and in so doing Name our Highest Self again, pulling It from the rubble like a Phoenix rises from the ashes. I encourage you to spend even ten minutes in silence, just listening; just asking the question, and allowing the mind to quiet in its resistance until you hear a different voice; the softer voice of the heart. Then, put pen to paper or fingers to laptop keys and write, without judgment or editing. What is It That You Were Given?
If we really are to know more Light and live our lives with yet more courage, and zeal and aligned in our own Truth, sometimes our Spirit knows what that will take—something the human would never knowingly agree to, I’m betting.
At the beginning of this article I shared two words that summed up 2012 for me: The Opposite. But I’ll close by offering two words that just two days ago came into my life for the first time. These two words are Baruch Bachan (bay-roosh bay-shan).
They mean, “the Blessings already Are.”
– em claire
(To contact em please write to her at: email@example.com. To hear em claire read this poem, please click here.)
As teenagers, young adults, old adults, and at every age in between, we have encountered at least a few obstacles that have impeded our progress. Some call it a mere nuisance, while others, when driven to the extreme, have sworn it to be an eternal enemy. No matter what story we are looking at, there always seems to be an antagonist in our great adventure – someone or something that seems to set us back, holds us from achieving our greatest desires, and prevents us from being truly happy.
Or so we thought.
In The Storm Before the Calm, Neale asks us one of the Seven Simple Questions, which is, “Is it possible that there is something that we do not understand about ourselves, about our own life and its purpose, the understanding of which would shift our reality and alter our experience for the better, forever?” There certainly is, and it is simply that we are not recognizing the humanity in our enemies as a further extension of ourselves. Just as in everything that occurs in our lives, our “enemies” give us the potential to grow in our spiritual development as well – if we choose to. If we choose to create new relationships, ones not based on hate, or loathing, or animosity, but in love, forgiveness, and growth, then we can create the New Cultural Story that our world so desperately needs. No matter who or what you consider your enemy to be, you and the opposing force you face are always for the same end goal: to obtain a higher understanding of Who You Are. Quite often, embracing the “enemy” is the next step to be taken.
Though changing our relationship with our “enemies” may seem improbable, it is indeed possible. A change of heart and a change of mind can be seen in the incredible story of Azim Khamisa and Ples Felix. A November 2012 edition of Spirit Magazine details this journey to its beginning in 1995, where Ples Felix’s teen grandson, Tony Hicks, had shot Azim Khamisa’s only son, Tariq Khamisa, dead in cold blood. Despite his mournful situation, Azim Khamisa did not look for vengeance against the Felix family, but ultimately recognized that “there were victims at both ends of the gun.” In their 1995 meeting, Azim Khamisa should have certainly saw Ples Felix as part of “the enemy,” but with the higher guidance of love and forgiveness, both men recognized the loss that each other felt as a result of the incident, and were able to form a communal bond over that experience. From this recognition of humanity in one another, Khamisa and Felix co-founded the Tariq Khamisa Foundation, which teaches nonviolence and individual responsibility to at-risk teens across the world. As a result, nearly 9 million teens worldwide have heard this message of forgiveness. If just these two men were able to look beyond their personal vengeances and create a new relationship entirely based on forgiveness, awareness, and unity, then what would happen if we did this with all of our “enemies”? Now that’s an Overhaul of Humanity if I’ve ever experienced one.
We as teenagers and future adults need to become responsible enough to know that there is always more behind the story. What may seem to be our greatest adversary is most likely one of our greatest stepping stones of higher awareness. By understanding our interactions with our “enemies,” we can choose to consciously shift our beliefs and attitudes so that we can create a more meaningful relationship with them, the world, and ourselves. No matter what stage of our life we are in, there will always continue to be people that challenge our choices and well-being. Will you recognize them for their choices, for their understanding, for their own journey that now is ultimately apart of your journey too? Will you grow with them on that journey, and will you become even more of who you are? As always, the choice is yours.
(Lauren is a Feature Editor of The Global Conversation. She lives in Wood Dale, IL, and can be reached at Lauren@TheGlobalConversation.com)
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Ghandi
How is tolerance related to spirituality and parenting? One of the hallmarks of The New Spirituality is non-judgment. How can you present that to your child, even as your own views may be judged by others as “wrong” and even blasphemous?
Many of us have experienced intolerance because of our non-traditional spiritual beliefs, either from family, friends, or acquaintances. Those living in overtly religious areas can find it very difficult to be different from the mainstream. That is one of the reasons that the community aspect of religion has lasted so many years…the human desire to assemble and be with others like themselves. This is also one of the reasons that it can be difficult to engage in a non-traditional spiritual life…the lack of community. However, you can assemble your own community if you desire it; it may just look a little different than what you expect. Your community may be internet-based, such as The Global Conversation or the School of the New Spirituality; it may be found at spiritual retreats; or you may create it based on another aspect of your life – parenting, love of outdoors, etc.
You may have felt the need for caution before divulging your world view. You may have felt ostracized as people in your area talk about their own ideas as if they are everyone’s values. You may have struggled with how to teach and celebrate your spiritual beliefs with your child so that he or she understands and embraces a relationship with God; while being careful not to cause him or her to feel uncomfortable or left out around other children. The truth is that intolerance is fear made manifest. People fear what they do not know or understand. And so to keep that which they fear away from them, they put up walls of intolerance. Children, on the other hand, like to find commonalities. In trying to make connections, they often ask their parents, “Does that person believe the same things as us?” It can be disconcerting and disappointing to the child when the answer is, more often than not, no.
Children are also sponges. They observe, hear, and internalize our attitudes as well as our fears and insecurities. Religious tolerance is one topic on which children learn from their parents, both how to react to others’ attitudes and how to treat others. You have no control over the amount of religious tolerance which is extended to you. Therefore, it can be beneficial to demonstrate tolerance toward others even if they are not showing the same to you. Helping your children feel secure in their own beliefs is one way to avoid taking other people’s attitudes, either positive or negative, personally. Assist your children in exploring their own connection to God and others. Demonstrate to your child how to be love and tolerance in the world instead of being afraid to speak your truth. Show respect to others and allow your child to learn about what others believe.
Teaching your children the core principles within Conversations with God can be very helpful:
There is no such thing as right and wrong.
God talks to everyone all the time.
Love is all there is.
We are all one.
These concepts help children understand that there are many paths to God and that no one way is the only way. A deeper understanding and application of all 25 concepts help us to embrace Who We Really Are, how to feel confident in our connection to God and the Universe, and, as a result, how to feel secure in our understanding of the world. Through this acceptance of our connection, we cease to view ideas as competing and begin to assess the world differently, abandoning dynamics of inferiority/superiority and directing us to more effective questions such as “Does this thing/idea/choice/belief/action benefit me right now?” and “What can I do today to be a gift of love to the world?”
Once we all begin viewing “beliefs” as merely part of the paintbrush with which we paint the canvas of our life – rather than as the hard-and-fast lines (rules) we have to paint within – notions of fear and intolerance will melt away. All that will be left is Love! We will collectively experience love of diversity, an easy acceptance of others, and a willingness to learn from one another. Instead of competing to be “right,” we will lift up and inspire each other to be our own personal bests. Believe it or not, this can start today with what you teach your child about tolerance of others!
(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of www.cwgforparents.com. She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities. Her books are available at www.withmychildseries.com. To contact Emily, please email her at Emily@cwgforparents.com.)
At first glance, seeing the words “polio,” “sex,” and “priest” together in a sentence suggests the beginning of what promises to be a dreadfully distasteful joke. But I am here to tell you that the most-recent film I had the truest pleasure of viewing, The Sessions, while it is brimming with playful humor and wit, is no joke.
This daring movie, which takes place in 1988, is based on the true life story of Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes), a man who spends his nights entombed in an iron lung and moves through his days being wheeled around on a gurney by one of his caretakers, all as a result of contracting polio at the tender age of seven years old, a debilitating disease which eventually left him unable to use all but three muscles in his body: one muscle in his right foot, one muscle in his neck, and one muscle in his jaw. Thanks to the efforts of a loving and devoted family, who chose to care for Mark at home instead of institutionalizing their beloved polio-stricken son, Mark soared past the grim 18-month life-expectancy statistics at the time and lived to be 49 years old.
Mark’s spirit far surpassed the limitations of his frail body, earning him a graduate degree from UC Berkeley and a successful career as a celebrated poet and respected journalist, yet his Soul and his Body and his Mind yearned for the one thing that life had not given him: an intimate sexual experience with a woman. Even though Mark’s disease had weakened his muscles to the point where he had very little, if any, mobility or muscle coordination, he was still able to experience sensation in his twisted and fragile body, and he longed for the sensual touch of a woman, the passion of a physical connection, and the sensation of an orgasm that wasn’t simply a random, unprovoked, meaningless occurrence.
Through his research into sexuality and the disabled, Mark was introduced to the idea of hiring a sexual surrogate to assist him with his first sexual experience. Contemplating and internally struggling with the decision of whether or not to pursue this unusual path, a choice that would run counter to his Catholic upbringing, Mark sought the counsel of Fr. Brendan (William H. Macy), a priest in his church, who suddenly and unexpectedly found himself invited to take a closer look at his own truth, to question his own beliefs, and to consider the possibility of changing his own perspective. While this emotionally tortured and physically paralyzed man lay vulnerably before him, asking if God would be upset if he had sex outside of marriage, Fr. Brendan offers to him, “In my heart, I feel like he will give you a free pass on this one. Go for it.”
Mark goes on to hire Cheryl Cohen Greene (Helen Hunt) as a sex therapist with whom he would share his first experience of sexual intercourse over a span of six sessions. Their unconventional relationship transitions from a matter-of-fact sexual experience into one of mutual tenderness and self-realization. This is not a movie about sex. This is a movie about Love. This is a movie about the journey of the Soul. This is a movie about, as Conversations with God teaches us, understanding that your Truth comes from within, and that when you change the source of your Truth, you allow yourself to experience life in an entirely different way…in the way that it was meant to be.
This film is raw and explicit, humorous and heart-breaking, inspiring and emotionally shocking, gutsy and tender. If ever there was a movie that demonstrates that our lives are not about us, The Sessions would be it. If ever there was a movie that reflected the infinite possibilities held within each and every one of us, it would be this one.
This movie is currently showing in theaters around the world. Save an evening to see a wonderful film that you will be grateful you brought into your life.
(Lisa McCormack is the Managing Editor & Administrator of The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team at www.ChangingChange.net, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
(If there is a book, movie, music CD, etc. that you would like to recommend to our worldwide audience, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Review”)
(CA, a non-native English speaker, wrote a very long letter, and I am excerpting some of her content for the advice column.)
CA, I understand that the real purpose of your letter was to get some answers to some of the larger questions of the day, centering around how the world is going to change with so much resistance to change. That is a subject that I could speak to you about, one-on-one, extensively, but for the purposes of an Advice Column, I am going to focus on something else…how you are feeling about these things.
CA, you used the words below as part of your description of the events the world is experiencing today:
“.. as it is not part of my personality to engage in such conversations simply by fear of being categorized as illuminated or dangerous-
Reactions are strong…resistance…doubt…catastrophe…vicious circle…how?…
I feel very different from others in terms of convictions reactions behaviors since early age so I stay discrete to avoid discrimination.”
CA, I would like you to know that you are certainly not alone in feeling different. You are not alone in feeling afraid and confused, and you are not alone in resisting change. This is what our egos do to protect ourselves. We stop having the conversations we really want to have because we are afraid of what other people think. Attachment to family and friends is natural and strong. We are told, culturally, through religion and education, and in many more ways, that it is not possible and not proper for us to do anything that isn’t already acceptable. The problem is, when we do this, we ignore what we think. I know it has been said so many times before, but loving ourselves is what comes first. If we want to speak of things that could change the world into a better place, and don’t, we are depriving ourselves of our own voice, and depriving the world of the wisdom that just might have changed the world. One voice really can do just that…change the world.
Yes, it seems dramatic, but imagine if Jesus had kept silent, or the Buddha, or Gandhi, or Nelson Mandella…each only one voice, heard eventually by many.
“I also read with great enthusiasm his article after election in your country as I am deeply convinced that if we do not share and care for the rest of the mankind and continue to build our society around the concept of separation we won’t go anywhere but to violence and despair for the majority of us. I read today that some readers accused him of mixing a spiritual role with politics, yet I think that this is exactly where we need to start as society organization is today ruled by the economic and political sphere.”
CA, see, you already know what you believe! Now you get to choose to voice it or not. It might not even be true that people will reject your ideas, as they did in the past. It has been my experience that when I speak my truth, and speak it with kindness, as CWG suggests, I rarely get opposition…I may not get agreement, but I do not get opposition. People do, however, walk away willing to think about what I have just shared with them. I often find that others really do feel the same way I do, but are also afraid to speak what they really feel.
I would suggest, also, that you be certain to understand that we are all doing the best we can, given the information we have about things. When we know better, we do better. One of the reasons we feel upset, after we know better, is that we think it is unfair that we have to behave better than everyone else! It feels like quite a burden to be different than others…but I would suggest something else. It might just be a burden lifted not having to be false to yourself. Telling your own truth is actually incredibly liberating.
“My understanding after all my readings is that God sent us these Angels to allow us to experience what we have chosen to feel . But if I experience resistance, calomny , if I keep losing my job for unrational reasons with huge fear of financial precarity , how can I engage in changing the world with discussions?”
Now, CA, you also get the chance to change your mind about how you feel about these things, and change your experience of them! In “When Everything Changes, Change Everything,” it tells a little story about a rainy day, and how the same event can be experienced in very different ways. Rain for the parade organizer was a disaster. Rain for the farmer was a blessing! Might these things in your life that are now calamities be viewed as opportunities? Might they be you, on a soul level, asking you to reexamine your life, and your priorities?
I know this sounds very cavalier, CA, and I know how frightening all of the life events you describe can be, but you do get to choose whether or not you are the parade organizer or the farmer. This column will certainly not give you all of the answers you seek, but, hopefully it will give you some things to think about in your journey of finding your own answers.
I believe that who we are in this world, and how we conduct our lives in this world, really does affect our world in ways that we will never understand. I believe we must never deny our own voice, when it speaks our own truth, and that we all get to decide what that is.
CA, if you haven’t already read the book “When Everything Changes, Change Everything,” I would recommend you do. It can be read for free on the website listed below. This book gives practical tools on how to change how we go through change. It also has forums where you can discuss the book in relation to yourself and your journey.
This world is sure changing like crazy right now, and the only thing we can really change is how we are in relation to that change. You, however, are not alone, CA, in your journey through these times.
(Therese Wilson is the administrator of the global website at www.ChangingChange.net, which offers spiritual assistance from a team of Spiritual Helpers responding to every post from readers within 24 hours or less, and offers insight, suggestions, and companionship during moments of unbidden, unexpected, unwelcome change on the journey of life. She may be contacted at Therese@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
(If you would like a question considered for publication, please submit your request to Advice@TheGlobalConversation.com, where our team is waiting to hear from you.)