An instrument of peace

“Lord, make me an instrument of peace.”

With that single line St Francis defined a life of mindfulness and loving kindness long before those terms were first used. Long before pop culture turned them into an industry. A t-shirt slogan.

He goes on to describe how that instrument looks. It is one of understanding and giving. A life in service of love.

“Lord make me an instrument of peace

Where there is hatred let me sow love

Where there is injury, pardon

Where there is doubt, faith

Where there is despair, hope

Where there is darkness, light

And where there is sadness, joy

Oh divine master grant that I may

not so much seek to be consoled as to console

to be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love

For it is in giving that we receive

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned

It is in dying that we are born to eternal life”

This is how I want my life to be yet I often fail in these intentions. Instead, I want to be understood. To be consoled. To wade deeply in my sorrow. To be loved despite my shortcomings.

When I find myself on the needy end of the spectrum that runs from giving to receiving I remember that I can not only offer these gifts to myself, I should.

My efforts to be an instrument of peace must begin with myself because to offer peace to others I must first have it within me. The good news is that inner peace is often gained in the offering of it to others. It is a beautiful, endless, self-sustaining circle.

This was my meditation this morning:

That I forgive myself and not beat myself up for being human.

That I keep strong the faith that brought me here.

That I keep the flame of hope ever burning within me to light both bright days and dark nights.

That I be willing to find and feed my joy, especially when it seems so far away.

That I love myself as I wish to be loved by others and that I share that love regardless of my pain.

That peace isn’t just something we feel, it’s something we practice.

I believe I need more practice.

Peace be upon you.

What you deserve

Life has been hard on you. It has given you challenges you never expected. Pushed you to do things you never thought you would do. It has kicked you when you were down. Stomped on you. At some point it convinced you that you are unworthy. Less than perfect.

Yet here you are, embracing those imperfections. Finding strength in courage and hope. You are authentic. Unafraid to be vulnerable. Honest with others and with yourself. Compassionate. When life knocks you down you simply get back up and proclaim, “You hit like a bitch.”

You have uncaged your wild nature and embraced the divine feminine.

You are a goddess.

You deserve the worship and love of a warrior. A god.

He will support you. Go out of his way to show his appreciation and his love in every way he can. He will dance with you while doing dishes. Kiss you long and deep without reason. Ride the stupid spirit wagon with you at your kids football game just because you are on it.

He will caringly touch and lovingly kiss all those areas, physical, mental, spiritual, that are hard for you to reach or uncomfortable for you to touch alone.

When you are down he will help you up. When you are up he will raise you higher. When life hands you shit he will make fertilizer from it, plant seeds in it, wash it from you, and put you to bed with soft words and hard passion.

He will reflect those things in you that make you a goddess without fear. You will see yourself in him and you will like what you see. You can be vulnerable around him because he will never take advantage of you. Never use your vulnerability against you. Because he is also vulnerable.

He will bring out the best in you by being his best. Only his best is good enough for you.

He will encourage and help you to grow and in doing so grow with you. Not separately. Not as competition. Together. As One.

He will do these things because he wants to. Not because he needs to. Not because he feels obligated. Because he wants to. He wants to because he loves you.

You are a goddess, you deserve to be loved like one.

 

 

 

Image: “The Fountain of Love” by Jean Honoré Fragonard, c. 1785

This is my Heart

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I scan the news with horror
How can we
Presumed advanced
Assumed superior
Be anything more
Than most inferior
So long as we treat others
Our sisters and our brothers
With hate
Because of the color of their skin
Or the person they love
Or the person they are

They are Human
All of them Sacred
All of them
Us
All of us Carry
A Spark of Divine
All of us Sacred
All of us
One
All of us Sacred Human

I turn it off
There is no room for hate

This is my Heart
There is no room for hate
This is my Soul
There is no room for hate
This is my Life
There is no room for hate

My Heart is a place
Of Peace and Compassion
Of Truth and Passion
Of Hope and Sensuality
Of Joy and Sexuality
Of Teaching
and Learning
and Sharing
and Growing
and Acceptance

and Awakening

There’s no place here for hate
It has no place in my Heart
This is a place of Love
A place of Love
A place of Love
A place of Unconditional Love

This is my Heart

It is large enough for Everyone

 

 

Image by J.M.Greff

 

One person at a time

 

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As published in Elephant Journal 8/5/17

 

I see a young woman punished by a mind that differs from my own pushing a shopping cart through the dregs of society.

The aisles of humanity staggered randomly like blockades of sheeple that spite or ignore or pretend she does not even exist.

She winds carefully through the labyrinth. A test of the gods. A test of her worthiness that she believes she failed long ago.

I wonder: What test? What god would be so cruel to allow this woman, who carries the spark of the divine itself within her breast, to live like this? Why threaten to extinguish the gift of that spark?

I step in front of this woman, only occasionally glancing behind, and part the cascade of ignorance like Moses in a sea of flesh so she can make her way to the hovel that is her home.

I see a man on a corner with a worn sign that says “will work for food” and I know, without a doubt, that he has neither worked nor eaten in far too long. I watch the constant flow of people pass by like a river of wealth that is just beyond his reach while he slowly dies from dehydration.

I wonder: Why should he work for what the planet gives freely? Why should he be reduced to begging for that which comes naturally?

I step into the closest convenience store, a place convenient only to those with means, and spend what little is left on my debit card to ensure that he will not go another day without that which is his right, and I bring it to him with one request—that if he knows another who has not eaten, he share it. He looks at me and offers a portion, and I gently refuse because I have a job.

I see an old man struggling to carry his meager supplies to his humble home. He staggers under the weight of the few small bags that are his sole source of sustenance for the next month. His “retirement” is barely enough to pay for the two rooms in an ancient building that could, at any time, be condemned and leave him homeless.

I cross the street, add my own bags to his, and carry them all to the crumbling facade which represents the dreams of his youth. Without a word, I leave all the bags, including my own, at his door and walk away in silence as he speaks the only word we shared in those six blocks, “Why?”

I wonder: Where did he work so hard that I can see the memories of his past etched deeply into his face? Why did the system he paid into for so long leave him with not so much as cab fare to transfer a true month’s worth of food? Why would my actions, which seem so natural to me, leave him questioning my motives?

When I return home, I see myself in the mirror: this man that proclaims love, who shares it freely with the hungry, who widens the aisle with his imposing figure and intimidates the sheeple with a glance so the meek can pass, who carries the bags for those who are too weak to carry them, and leaves them with more than they started with—where would he be if not for the love and care of the one person who first offered the very same compassion that he feels for others: his Self.

I see their faces in my reflection. I feel their pain, know their suffering, and, in fact, share it.

Where would I be? Exactly where I am now—with them.

I quietly acknowledge my gratitude to a universe that gave me the gift of this vision and know that I am home.

If you want to change the world, begin with yourself, and then carry that change into the world one person at a time.

~

~

~

Author: J.M. Greff
Image: Pixabay/quinntheislander
Editor: Travis May

This is what it means to be loved by an empath

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As published in Elephant Journal 

 
I know you are hurting.

I feel it. I feel the anxiety that burns. The weight on your heart. The pain in your shoulders. In your neck. I feel it all as if it is my own.

My stress. My ache. My desire. My confusion. My depression. My heartbreak.

Because I feel it I want it to stop.

Because I love you, I want to be the one to make it stop.

What I usually feel from you is an intense, unnameable energy that is your life force. Your very soul. A spark of the divine.

It is love itself.

It is glorious.

When I close my eyes, I can still see it. Colors that have no name as brilliant as the sun. A swirl of prismatic energy that sings in unison with the universe.

You still shine brighter than any soul I’ve ever known, but all I feel now is the suffering.

It overwhelms. Consumes. Destroys.

It dims that light in you—but cannot put it out.

This is not who you are.

You are laughter and joy and adventure and peace and commitment and life. I know this because I feel these things too. Not today. Not yesterday. Not for some time now. If I try hard enough, I can still touch them, but they are buried deep.

Hard to reach. Made all the harder to reach because you know me.

Knowing me has made it worse, because you know I am an empath. You avoid me and block me and keep these things to yourself because you do not want anyone, especially me, to see that what you want to feel now is the pain.

Pain does that. It blinds us to the truth that it, like all things, has purpose. Has a season. Will pass. Is temporary.

Pain doesn’t want you to know that.

It wants you to remain in the moment, convinced that it is lasting, so you either do whatever it takes to overcome it or be seduced into remaining there forever.

Suffering is possibly the most seductive of all emotions.

Misery truly does love company, but the company it desires most is your own.

You have stopped talking with me because you know I can see within you, and it makes you uncomfortable. It makes you want to run because you honestly believe that the person you are right now is who you will always be, and you don’t want me to see that person.

I see you. I see you though you choose to remain in the shadows. You cannot hide the truth from me; you are goddess. A manifestation of the divine. A sacred human.

Because you are unable to feel these truths, to access them, to realize them, you pull further and further from me and from the rest of the world, for fear of the off-chance that you will be revealed by another empath.

There is a better way. Join me.

My ability goes far beyond sensing. To be a true empath means to literally share feelings and emotions.

This sharing does not have to be a one-way street. The relationship can be symbiotic if you allow it to be. It takes practice and patience and trust but we, as One, can overcome those feelings through the simple, difficult, and always fulfilling acts of love.

Through shared breathing and the joining of heart and soul through Tantric practices, through faith and determination and commitment, and, most of all, through the sharing of love and gratitude, we can lift those feelings out of the dark places and raise them into the light—and we can forge new emotions in their place.

You will not hurt me in doing this. I have spent my whole life absorbing what other people feel. I have a capacity for pain and suffering that goes well beyond what others have because I have spent my whole life dealing with others’ pain as well as my own.

I have learned to separate those feelings, and to transmute them. I can take your pain and infuse it with intentions of love and gratitude, and together we can turn them into something meaningful.

I have also spent a lifetime absorbing other people’s love and joy and faith and trust and all those other wonderful things that we all want in our lives, and in absorbing them and making them my own, I have extended and expanded my own capacity for them.

Let me share that with you.

This is what it means to be loved by an empath.

Let me in.

~

~

Author: J.M. Greff
Image: Pixabay
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Erin Lawson

 

Even then

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Through my tears and pain
I call out
To the god of her faith
To take her pain
Her sorrow
To give them to me
To make them mine
I swear to him
Upon my soul
She will never be treated like that again
A voice within says “Never?”
I swear
“Upon your soul?”
I pledge upon it
“Why?”
I want her in my life
“Always?”
Yes
No matter what
“No matter what?”
Crippled or crazy
“You would care for her?”
Yes
Broken or diseased or dying
“You would have her?”
Yes
I would have her no matter her condition
No matter her state
No matter what
“You would love her?”
I do love her
With all that I am
“And if she could not return your love?
Even then?”
Yes
Even then I would love her

I am given my answer in silence

 

You don’t know me

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You don’t know me.

Maybe we’ve met or spoken. Maybe you have read what I write. Maybe you only know what it is that I do for you, that I love you, that I care.

But you don’t know me.

You know the man determined to live by the simple and incredibly difficult intentions of love and gratitude, but you don’t know why he loves so deeply or what it is that he is ever so grateful for.

You know the man who shares his heart openly. Who is unafraid to admit that he cries as much as he laughs, but you don’t know what it is that would make him happy or why it is he cries at night.

You know the man who is generous to a fault, but you don’t know that his son tells him, “Dad, focus on yourself. You seem to focus on everyone except yourself.” You don’t know why you come first. Even his son doesn’t.

You know the man determined to change himself and his world, but you don’t know why he is so determined. Who he was before the change and why it’s so important for him to change.

You know this man only because of what he does for you.

I could tell you that he goes without food for weeks in order to be sure that you don’t. That he falls four months behind on rent to be sure you have what you need or why his landlord is okay with this.

You know the man who will always be there for you, no matter what, but you don’t know how he cries for you when you are afraid
or when you feel as alone as he does.

You don’t know where or when I was born, what towns I grew up in, my favorite foods or colors. You don’t even know my middle name.

I could tell you these things but you still wouldn’t know me.

It’s okay. I don’t know you either.

You know what you need to know.

You know that you are loved.
~
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Almost as published in Elephant Journal (except they tried to turn it into a poem)
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Author: J.M. Greff
Image: Jake Davies/Unsplash
Editor: Taia Butler
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Wa