I work as a special education classroom assistant, and I have to tell you that besides a heavy dose of patience and kindness, you need to have a lot of understanding, some good running shoes, the ability to lift 80 lbs. of limp weight, and must have a hardy sense of humor.
Take one day, for instance, while we were in a music class. The teacher’s plans included dancing to the hokey pokey. Sounds like fun, right? The music started playing, one child covered her ears because it was too loud. The other decided it would be more interesting to climb the risers instead. Still another was transfixed on a computer screen in the distance. We brought them back into the circle trying desperately to make this dance look like great fun as we smiled and clapped and demonstrated the steps while they watched disinterested. We were almost tempted to give up.
Then all of a sudden it happened…that one brilliant moment in time when they got it. All of a sudden they’re all putting their left foot in and out and shaking it all about, They’re smiling and doing the hokey pokey as they are turning themselves around like it’s nobody’s business. They’re laughing, they make eye contact, and your heart lifts and soars at this totally wonderful accomplishment. They get it for this one brief shining moment, and all is well in the world. Then as fast as they got it, it’s over. One continues her quest of mimicking all the sounds of the instruments she sees on the poster on the wall, another rolls around on the ground speaking in a language only she understands and the other one stares off into the distance at nothing in particular.
Although these children have behaviors that are not always considered the norm, I couldn’t help but wonder, if in a way, this is actually what life is all about. Sometimes we get it; sometimes we don’t Sometimes we want to listen to loud music and dance; sometimes we want to cover our ears and be quiet. Sometimes we want to put our hands and heads and feet in and shake them all about, while other times we’d rather just stare off at nothing in particular. Sometimes we want to smile and have fun when we’ve actually gotten something right, and sometimes we’d rather just climb off to somewhere else instead.
I couldn’t help but to ask myself, “What if doing the hokey pokey is what it’s all about?!”
It was a sunny Tuesday morning, and I had just sat down to eat a bowl of Rice Krispies with peaches. I was starting a new job in a few days and was savoring the last of my leisurely mornings as I turned on the news to catch up with the daily events. The channel that was on showed a puzzled Katie Couric saying, “A plane accident has occurred at the Twin Towers.” As the camera panned to a live view, another plane appeared out of nowhere and crashed into the second Tower. I watched in shocked horror, as did Katie, trying to make sense out of what had just happened. She looked as amazed as I felt, not quite sure what to make of it.
My daughter called from college in tears. I worried about my younger daughter attending high school. Was everyone safe?
I switched around to other stations to see if this were real, and a little while later settled on Peter Jennings. For the next 10 to 12 hours I sat glued to my set, watching in sheer disbelief – wanting to walk away but paralyzed in front of the TV – frozen in horror. And there was Peter Jennings, reporting up to the minute details and trying to give us some kind of reassurance as we slowly realized nothing would ever be the same. I remember seeing the hundreds of rescue workers and ambulances lined up, ready to take people to the hospital. Waiting and waiting in eerie silence, not yet understanding there would be few survivors from those buildings. The magnitude of the loss of life was still unrealized.
I stayed with Mr. Jennings for most of the day, trusting his expertise and insight. Way after 11 p.m. he was still there, sleeves rolled up, tie off now, looking haggard and drained but still telling us the details we needed to know. He was soothing and reassuring, trying to keep a nation calm in the midst of hysteria. When Mr. Jennings passed away a while later, my heart ached as thoughts of 911 came flooding back, along with the question of whom we could count on to see us through the next catastrophe.
My thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones in the horrible 911 tragedy. My heart aches for their loss. Watching the roll call this morning brought tears to my eyes once more. I’ve been thinking about all that has transpired since then, and the word “trust” came to mind. I realize that in this ever-changing world in which we live, filled with so much uncertainty, the only One we can really trust to see us through is God.
Where were you on 911?
My heart is aching today for sunshine on this dreary day, as I yearn to return to a place of deep rest and tranquility. It was a time I personally began to take a deeper look into meditation. Sometimes I think maybe that period, only a short while ago, may have been slightly illusionary because I have failed to keep that serenity inside my heart. I have stumbled and fallen back into the disquiet of every day life with the unrest and turmoil it brings, where I keep allowing others to affect me in negative ways.
I want it back…that feeling of peace. I understand now how special it was as the soothing sound of the meditation music I am listening to at the moment triggers my memory. I remember the calmness of watching a palm tree gently blowing in the warm Florida breeze just outside my window. I remember how relaxing it was to be mesmerized by the flow and rhythm of the ocean on a perfect beach day, watching the passing clouds drift lazily by. The happiness of frolicking with my exuberant sidekick Riley amidst the lush vegetation where a gorgeous bird of paradise plant catches my eye. My heart begins to swell again with yearning to go back. But life insists that I keep moving forward.
Tomorrow I start a new chapter in my life, and my hopes are high that it will lead me in a direction I need to go. One where I will finally find the happiness I have longed for. One where I can bring positive energy to those who need it the most. Maybe all this inner mysticism is just a touch of angst for the new and unknown. I don’t mean to sound so Deepak Chopra-ish, although I admire him deeply for mentoring me along this meditation journey.
Bird of Paradise
My centering thought today is: I use my energy to heal and transform. My hope is that I can keep this foremost in my mind as I begin anew. The translation for Om Ritam Namah: My intentions and desires are in alignment with and supported by the rhythm of the universe. I am holding tightly onto that mantra with all my heart and soul.
My sidekick Riley.
Faith…isn’t always a leap. Sometimes it’s just one little step after another with lots of falling down and getting back up in between.
That’s life. Ups and downs…downs and ups. Never steady, always changing. And like that box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.
I have a friend who recently lost everything. I won’t invade her privacy by telling you the how’s or when’s, but she is left to rebuild from the bottom up with nothing. Is she depressed? No. Is she down and out? No. Instead of dwelling on her own problems, she continues to surprise others with her giving. Her prayers. Her unexpected surprises. She continues worrying about others and caring for others and giving what she can with what she has. She buys little things and stows them away, waiting for the right person and the right opportunity to surface to give it away. She feels blessed by all that was given to her after the catastrophe that struck her family. So much abundance, in fact, that she is able to extend her blessings by sharing her gifts with others in need.
If you talk with her for awhile, you can tell that deep down inside a golden heart is beating. That she may even have brilliant white wings tucked under that tee-shirt she’s wearing. She smiles a lot. She’s upbeat. She’s positive and faith-filled. She’s encouraging. While her own world has been turned upside down, she doesn’t reflect on that but instead asks you about yours.
She brings tears to my eyes with her humbleness and humility and non-ceasing ability to make me smile. I am proud to call her my friend…my role model…my angel on earth. She never ceases to amaze me, and I know her putting in a good word upstairs has caused me to flourish in so many ways.
She gave me a coffee mug today with the FAITH inscription that opens this blog. It brought tears to my eyes, and I just wanted to say thank you to her for putting everything into perspective for me.