When I am reading “Just for today” (one of the textbooks for the Narcotics Anonymous group) this morning, I am reminded that “Though I may be feeling low, I don’t need to tear someone down to build myself up…The way to build our self-esteem is not to tear others down but to build them up through love and positive concern. To help us with this, we can ask ourselves if we are contributing to the problem or to the solution. Today, we can choose to build instead of destroy”.
Today, I choose to build. What/how about you? What/how about tomorrow?
Have you heard about “The Mother’s Living Stories” project? From 1995-2005, Mothers’ Living Stories, a San Francisco Bay Area-based nonprofit project, listened to ill mothers and developed services and resources to support them. Many trained volunteers went to the (especially young) mothers’ home, sat by their side for many hours, and listened to them tell about their lives. The stories were for the dying mothers’ children.
These mothers would never see their children grow up. And their children would never be able to ask their mother about her life, about her dreams, her disappointments and her…. They would never have the opportunity to ask: “How should I love? How do I know what is right? What di you do when you were my age? …”
The volunteers asked the mothers to tell them everything they would tell their growing children for when they are older, for when they need a mother’s loving words to them what they need to hear.
The volunteers then collected those stories, compiled edited transcripts and put it all in a beautiful box decorated with photos from the mothers’ life, friends, and family. The stories would be able to be kept safe until the right time, until they are needed, and the children are ready to hear them.
How many of us would have treasured such a gift from a loved one passed too soon? How many questions would we ask, if we could?
How many of us would feel the need and be ready to ask while our beloved mother (and father) still alive.
It is not too late to spend your time to ask and get to know more about your beloved ones. It is not too late to seek for their guidance and wisdom.
As a Christian and an Anglican priest (not only because of Christian identity and vocation, but also my passion), I love to reach out to the people in the community. One group of people I have never met personally are transgender. Lately, I start to read a book called “Gender: Your Guide – A GENDER-FRIENDLY PRIMER ON What to Know, What to Say, and What do Do in the New Gender Culture” by Lee Airton.
In this book, Lee Airton writes, “transgender people were assigned a sex and corresponding gender category at birth, but this assignment doesn’t reflect who we are”. In the book, Lee explains how gender works from the perspective of gender as an ongoing, lifelong process.
For me, I am in a lifelong journey/path to be true manhood. I am still learning and becoming a man I was designed by God to be. From this point of view, I experience & see gender as an ongoing, lifelong process.
In his book “a life of being have doing enough”, Wayne Muller wrote:
“Perhaps the greatest wealth you possess, the most precious valuable gift you can ever hope to offer any human being, is this one, simple, true things: You. Your Presence. Showing up. Being in the company of another, undistracted, unhurried, with an open heart, gentle hands, and a patient soul. Willing and able to listen, do something or do nothing, willing to be surprised by whatever emerges in the soil of sharing your present, loving company with another human being”.
How often have you offered this gift to others? How often have you received this gift from others? Do you value this the most precious valuable gift?
Stéphan Carnier’s book “How to Think Like a Cat” is not about cat but us. I appreciate his reflection on being assertive, “Many of us find it hard to assert ourselves in front of other, either out of shyness or lack of confidence…if other people take up more space than you, it’s because you let them do so…Cats take the space that is their due, without crushing their neighbour, but they do not tolerate any encroachment on the space. They assert themselves quietly. They don’t play the tyrant, but neither do they accept a walk-on part”.
I have learned the need to be assertive the hard way in the past years of working as a priest/pastor. Trying the please everyone, keeping my reputation to be a nice guy and avoiding (& being afraid of) conflicts are the main reasons causing me feeling hard to be assertive.
Asserting ourselves actually is being authentic, being honest to ourselves (and others) and the way to take care of ourselves. Then we learn how to respect others’ space and boundary. In the end, we all grow (together).