The Wall


“The last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you become the plaything to circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity…” – Viktor E. Frankl

The wall – an obstacle I cannot get beyond. There comes a moment in every life, I suppose, when we each are stymied by the wall. The wall of missed opportunity; the wall of misunderstandings; the wall of poverty; the wall of doubt and mistrust; the wall that is much like a steep incline where we are wearied by the effort of trying to mount it; so many walls.

And yet, are not most walls those of our own making? Did we not build them ourselves brick by brick? Or, if we did not do it ourselves, did we not contribute to their structure in some shape or form?

It is so easy to point the finger of blame, to avoid self-examination and accountability. Yes, I know there are some circumstances beyond our control. Sometimes the fates seem to align in such a way that we are well and truly trapped. But, for the most part, we do have a choice in how we live our lives – even if it is only how we respond to a given situation.

May we each be given whatever tool we need; meet whatever person we need, to dismantle the wall.

“Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.” – Elie Weisel

“There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  – Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Clicking away


I have been reading the news stories coming out of the U.S.A. about the horrific policies in place that allow babies and children to be separated from their families. I am saddened and appalled, as most people are. At the same time, I am seeing memes in my news feed on social media declaring that children are separated from their families when their parents break the law. But, you see, in that case it is the parent who is put in a cage, not the child. And in most cases, there are other family members who step into the breach to care for the children. This kind of thinking defies logic in my mind. How do you compare the two? There is no comparison.  Do people not understand that families fleeing situations that place them in peril- whether it’s due to poverty, war, or natural disaster –  are searching for a place to raise their children in peace. These people are the most vulnerable citizens of this planet. And the most vulnerable of all are the children. I cannot even fathom the trauma they experience by being forcibly separated from their only source of comfort and security – their families.

Two years ago, wildfires swept through the city I call home and we were evacuated. We left with very little clothing, food, or water. Some jokingly referred to themselves as refugees. But we live in Canada and the Red Cross delivered food, water, medicines, and essentials within hours of being evacuated. Yet I still remember those feelings of fear and vulnerability, even though I knew help was on the way. The mass efforts to provide humanitarian aid was swift and gratefully received.

For the peoples of South America there is no such comfort. Instead they reach a border where they hope to receive aid and are faced with the ultimate sorrow – separation from their children. I cannot even begin to imagine how that feels, or how I could ever deal with such a situation. And so, I have been clicking away, sharing news stories that underline the plight of refugees and immigrants; sharing memes that encourage compassion and inclusion.  I don’t know what else to do. I feel totally helpless. As for the people who embrace the logic of “don’t break the law”, I can only shake my head and sigh. Laws sometimes need to be broken when your very life is at stake. And this litany plays over and over in my mind, “there, but for the grace of God, go I”.

The monster’s demise


“Leave me alone,” screams the child within

But the ogre under my rib cage will have none of it

Like a leach attached to tender skin it continues to suck me dry

Consuming every bit of life and leaving me gasping

The control monster stomps freely

Holding me captive

At the end of a leash

“OH, freedom, come, please come” the soul whimpers

Jailed within – though seemingly free without

I travel in endless circles of malaise

Though I struggle, scream, and shout

No one answers – they do not hear

The leash is short and freedom curtailed by its length

The chains around my heart squeeze like an enormous boa constricter

Until my every breath pains me

Locked in a seemingly never-ending crater of loneliness

Pain and isolation are of my making

No other creator but I

The monster breathes

But only because I allow it

I will lift the sword again

I muster every bit of inner strength

I will chop off the monster’s head

Chuck it into the garbage bin where it belongs

And try again to soldier on

The thirst for freedom I will slake

And taste again the sweetness of life

Let go, let go


Let go, let go

Fear

A heavy and grotesque gargoyle

Perched upon my shoulder

Its sharp claws digging into my flesh

Making me weak

Anger

A boiling cauldron of toxic soup

Bubbling and spewing forth hateful thoughts

Making me weak

From deep within, though soft and low

A voice repeats

Let go, Let go

But I hold tight to my pain

Feeling justified

Feeling righteous

White-knuckled I scream

At all the injustices done

And the voice whispers again

Let go, let go

With herculean effort I toss them high

The fear and anger and burdens heavy

I watch them go

Lifted higher and higher

I watch them burn as they near the light

To finally explode into a million pieces

What sweet relief

To finally let go

And I thank the voice

That guides me true

And brings me back

To life anew

Fear and Rage


STORM

Fear and rage

That two-headed monster that lives within

Like a lion it paces back and forth

And springs, when I unleash it

Only to suck me dry like some psychic vampire

Leaving me weak and helpless

I cry to the heavens for help

And help does come

Through human hands

It soothes me

And shackles the monster once again

And frees me

The fear that consumed me has been banished by loving care

The rage quieted

I am at peace

And I give thanks

For the knowledge

I have only to ask

And help will come

Choices


“Change what cannot be accepted and accept what cannot be changed.” – Reinhold Niebuhr –

Every single day we make choices and decisions from what colour socks to wear to how to vote in elections and all kinds of things in between. Having choices is a blessing we often take for granted. When we truly have no control over our situation; when we truly have no choices it can lead to feeling trapped and frustrated.

However, we do have a choice regarding how we react to challenging situations.  I really love the idea put forth by a prisoner in Auschwitz that the last choice granted to us as human beings is the right to choose how we react to any given situation.  I am sorry to say I do not recall the prisoner’s name but his thoughts moved me. Under great duress and horrific conditions he refused to give up on the inherent goodness of humanity – even while suffering atrocities – but kept to his resolve to stay true to his convictions. The gist of his thoughts is that even though others may take everything from you, including your physical freedom, your physical comfort, you can still maintain freedom of thought and freedom of choice regarding your reaction.  I greatly admire this man whose name I cannot recall. Sometimes the decision not to react takes great courage and bravery, and perhaps, a great deal of inner strength and faith in something greater than self.

Today it seems we are swamped by negative reactions from road rage to general rude behavior. But we each can make the choice to be patient; to be kind; to be understanding; to be compassionate.  We can each invest in peace instead of the myriad little wars we engage in.  Life can be challenging at times, but it can also be very good – depending on the choices we make.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart we cling to anything – anger, anxiety or possessions – we cannot be free.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Human Rights


Human rights is an issue in many countries around the globe and unfortunately there is no lack of topics for discussion.  Whether it is the rights of  freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from persecution of any kind, human beings in many parts of the world are being denied, in many cases living in fear and denied the basic rights of liberty and life. There is much I have to learn about the struggles of my fellow citizens of the world. I invite you to come along on my journey of discovery.