Tag Archives: forgiveness

March Reflections – 2019

Carol A. Hand

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I woke up this morning. Late, of course, when defined by daylight savings time. Sunlight was streaming through the eastern window. But when I awoke, a gentle but stunning realization dawned as a simple question ran through my mind.

“What happens if you put good people in an evil place?”

It’s a paraphrase of the question Dr. Phillip Zimbardo said he wanted to explore in his famous experiment, The Stanford Prison Experiment.

Another thought quickly followed.

I have been in evil places. Many of them. And I survived despite a tender heart that was ripped open by intense suffering. Both my suffering and that of others who were vulnerable.”

A sense of gratitude followed from knowing that I did my best to hold true to integrity and protect myself and others from the most destructive harm anyway. I got up every morning and walked in to face the fire, knowing that it was an experiment to see if it was possible to transform evil systems.

Although I made many mistakes in my journey, strength came from the ancestors who sometimes appeared to me and the wise beings who visited me in dreams. They taught me that compassion comes from forgiving one’s self as a necessary foundation for forgoing the need to demonize others for the choices they make.

“Mistakes are, after all,
the foundations of truth,
and if a man does not know
what a thing is, it is at
least an increase in knowledge
if he knows what it is not.”
(Carl Jung)

Thanks to Eddie Two Hawks for sharing this quote in a recent post.

I look at the state of the world today and know that I am just one unimportant person among billions. There is little I can do to affect change in the systems that harm others. That’s a choice only each individual must make for themselves. It’s a choice that one makes each moment.

I am inspired by the choices Diane Lefer recently shared on her blog, Nobody Wakes Up Pretty, about those who are working to address the egregious harm being done along the border with Mexico in the name of “Making America Great Again.” Diane’s work reminds me of something written more than a century ago by Jane Addams when she and the women of Hull-House in Chicago lived among newly arrived immigrants in the poorest of city neighborhoods.

“. . . the good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life” (Jane Addams, 1961, p. 76).

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May we all continue to make wise, compassionate choices to use whatever gifts we have to build a kinder world.

Work Cited:

Jane Addams (1961). Twenty Years at Hull-House. New York, NY: Signet Classics.

 

For My Daughter

Carol A. Hand

I feel your concern as I walk slowly now
trudging up and down hills or on icy sidewalks
following behind as you lead the way
heading toward a future that is yours alone
I need to travel at my own pace – sure-footed
to avoid adding to the burdens I know you carry

*

Loving you means trusting life and letting you go onward
accepting the limitations of a frail aging frame with grace
watching you with love, compassion, joy, and heavy sadness
remembering conundral choices that I suspect hurt you
hoping one day you will understand that loving you deeply
gave me courage to face daunting challenges to keep you safe

*

My daughter, Turns Falls, Massachusetts, 1975

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Yesterday, March 5th, was my granddaughter’s twelfth birthday. We had a lovely family celebration. But it’s a date that always makes me feel both deeply grateful, and deeply guilty.

I was traveling when I learned that my daughter was in the hospital giving birth to her daughter prematurely. In the midst of a powerful late winter snowstorm, the airports were closed in both of the cities where my daughter and I were. Renting a car to drive hundreds of miles through the storm wasn’t an option. There was no way I could be there. I could only fly home to a distant state the next day while the storm continued to batter the city where my daughter was.

When the airport reopened on the third day, I was faced with a conundrum. I was carrying heavy responsibilities for gifted, at-risk graduate students in a university that was unsupportive of those who were different in some way. If I left again to be with my daughter, it was likely their graduation would, at best, be delayed. I decided to send my partner, my daughter’s stepfather for most of her life, to be there instead. It was several months before I held my granddaughter for the first time.

All of the students I was advising graduated, many passing their final requirements with distinction, and they went on to careers helping vulnerable people. Yet, I know my daughter was deeply hurt. I will always wonder if I made the “right” choice, just as I will always remember that her birth was the greatest gift in my life.

Reflections about Detachment

Carol A. Hand

You tried to take it all
but it was never enough
to fill the insatiable void
you carried deep within
Ultimately you taught me
a valuable lesson

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wounded

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Detachment –
the art of letting go of my ego’s needs –
for attention, relationships,
approval from others,
or holding on tightly
to anything I loved

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Unencumbered I was free
to live my life as I pleased
The gifts I’ve given freely
bore the fruit of a worthwhile life
and helped my spirit grow
in ways you may never know

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healing

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You say you’re proud of my accomplishments?
We’re family and I should listen to history revised?
Naw… I’m done with that.
Compassion, forgiveness, and wisdom don’t require one
to continue a charade based on illusions
as a partner in the dance of perpetual mutual rewounding

*

What I can give you out of kindness is distance and space
and my sincere wish that one day you will discover
and learn to celebrate your own accomplishments

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Equanimity

Carol A. Hand

 

I wonder
if some think me a fool
because I refuse to respond
to disrespectful belittling banter
Perhaps some people fail to understand
silence in the face of unkindness
may actually be compassion
and equanimity

*

Note:

Recently, I have received unkind comments on a number of posts. From my perspective, there is more than enough mean-spiritedness in the world today. I made a difficult decision not to post those comments because I don’t want this blog to be used to give voice to disrespect toward others even though I have been the primary target. Witnessing the abuse of others hurts me, and I suspect many others have the same response.

Remembering Too Many Tragedies

Carol A. Hand

Listening deeply to inner silence
Here, but also present in another reality
Aware of fear,  dis-ease,  loss,  and violence
while feeling the   poignant ache   of possibility
Seeking courage moment to moment to make a choice
to allow wisdom,  compassion,  and joy  to guide my voice

***

Ava swimming in Lake Superior, Photographer – Jnana Hand

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Reflections about Adversity and Resilience

Carol A. Hand

Four crows sitting atop the willow tree
chattering loudly while surveilling their domain
reminding an old eagle grandmother of four dark souls
determined to keep fledgling eagles from taking flight
to travel to heights where crows cannot breathe

There was a time when crows were new to her
when she listened and watched them in thoughtful silence
as they crowed loudly about how clever they were
strutting about confident in their superiority
showing off shiny things they gathered in their travels

Nevertheless she naively believed that they could be friends
not realizing then how different she was
until she discerned a disturbing pattern
watching them band together to keep fledglings grounded
reveling in the suffering they caused

She understood then that lone eagles have a different path
to attract the focus of crows’ attention elsewhere
to create a safer space for fledglings to practice flying
so they could develop the strength of their wings
and study the nature of wind and weather and gravity

Trying hard, though they did, the crows didn’t darken her vision
as she learned how to keep them at bay
without harming them even though they struck her
repeatedly with increasing ferocity
crowing in joy at their collective power to wound

Scores of fledglings launched before she needed rest
before she could take flight herself and rise
though she heard that the dark souls continue
taunting and grounding those they fear who can fly higher
and explore vistas beyond the limited realm of crows

She watched as the crows in the willow tree grew silent
and departed one by one to the four directions
their lone cries echoing in the distance

She gave silent thanks for her freedom
and for the inner strength the crows helped her find
realizing that it might not have happened otherwise

***

Golden Eagle in Flight – By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK, CC BY 2.0 (Wikipedia )

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Reflections about Being Human

Carol A. Hand

Make the most of each moment while you are here

Observe life intently with an artist’s eye, listen deeply with a poet’s ear

Contemplate life with an empath’s heart, engage life with a compassionate mind

Live your life humbly, simply, remembering to be kind

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Lake Superior Dreaming
Lake Superior Dreaming

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Speak your truth when you must

urged by an inner power you’ve learned to trust

sometimes gently with the voice of a singer in a choir

and other times, boldly, with a spirit on fire

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Forgive yourself for the moments you squander

when emotions or daydreams cause your focus to wander

It’s what often reminds you how human you are

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Reflections about Transformation

Carol A. Hand

So much easier dreamt than spoken
So much simpler said than done
The process of transformation
never-ending once it has begun

Though you listen deeply for the next steps
the journey will test your mind and spirit
You’ll reach the breaking point again and again
The epiphany may be there but you cannot hear it

The path you’ve chosen will tempt you to abandon hope
confront you with your deepest nightmare fears
unleash powerful emotions you thought controlled
drive you to distraction and call forth your bitter tears

Forgive yourself for faltering and desiring the long journey’s final end
Find the strength within to continue, let compassionate thoughts ascend
Perhaps someday you’ll glance back and, only then, be able to comprehend
why it’s so much easier to dream than overcome suffering in order to transcend

***

Sun breaking through clouds over ocean
Sun breaking through clouds over ocean

(Photo Source: commons.wikimedia.com)

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Carol A. Hand

This is a story from times of old
about a catfish and a golden toad
and a partnership ill-fated
Sometimes love is not meant to be
though the realization may be belated

They met long ago in a magical place
as if by happenstance
in the wooded hills of faraway
where many came to sing and dance

Both seeking to pursue their dreams
to fill an inner longing
to find a place to free their sprits
in a community of belonging

He tall and proud
a prince among the toads
Following the edge of Sewer Brook
rather than hopping down the winding roads

toad 3

She swimming against the current
up the mighty Housatonic River
A little daughter swimming by her side
forging on with a gasp, a sigh, a shiver

He arrived years before her
filling an empty soul with passion after passion
with little concern for consequences
Caring about others and the earth had fallen out of fashion

She on the other hand
in her wound-weary watery soul
tried to bring comfort to those who suffered
and make the broken-hearted whole

Ah, what a disaster can sometimes happen
when such opposites join together
Both may lose their sense of worth
surrounded by forever stormy weather

Final goodbyes in this case
a blessing in disguise
Freeing both to pursue their dreams again
Perhaps alone, but each under sunnier skies

catfishes

Note: Inspired by life and “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame (1908).

Mr. Toad, the main character in The Wind in the Willows, is aptly described in Wikipedia as follows.

“Toad is intelligent, creative and resourceful; however, he is also narcissistic, self-centred [sic] almost to the point of sociopathy, and completely lacking in even the most basic common sense…. Ultimately, Toad has his heart in the right place. His characteristics have made him arguably the epitome of the stock character of the lovable rogue. During the course of his adventures Toad alternates between deep remorse for his arrogance and having relapses into it.”

Perhaps Mr. Toad is a “lovable rogue,” but he’s not my idea of an ideal life companion.

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Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reflections about Unhealed Pain

Carol A. Hand

A history of unhealed hurts remains hidden
Buried, waiting patiently in memories that surface unbidden
Coloring the present to wound spirit again and again
Each new experience colored by remembered pain
Deflecting attention away from the beauty and potential
Both within and surrounding us

Dancer (2)

Drawing: Carol A. Hand

The impenetrable walls we build to protect tender hearts
Isolating us from the joy of connections that unlock the joy
Of singing together in harmony with all we are
Look within, deeper, with compassion to understand
And allow the dance of rewounding to end
With the grace of forgiving oneself and others

dancer (1)

Drawing: Carol A. Hand

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.