Asking for help as a form of prayer and spiritual self-care: reflections on seeking support

Asking for help with shame says: You have the power over me. Asking with condescension says: I have the power over you. But asking for help with gratitude says: We have the power to help each other. — Amanda Palmer

You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave till it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.
― Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

Come down, O Christ, and help me! reach thy hand
For I am drowning in a stormier sea
Than Simon on thy lake of Galilee…
― Oscar Wilde

Lord, I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. … I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone. — Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Poem Excerpt Alice Walker
The children of Earth Are starving
For the sight Of something Real
Dying for the sound Of something True.
Pray for us To know
That nothing Stops a lie
Like being Yourself. 


A Franciscan Blessing

May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, hunger, and war, so that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done, to bring justice and kindness to all our children and to the poor.


Questions to consider:

  • When has asking for help brought about growth & strengthening of yourself or a situation?
  • When have others said YES when you sought support? When have people said NO when you asked for help?
  • When have others asked you for help? What allowed you to say YES? What caused you to say NO?
  • Who in your life is a role model for allowing others to provide support and help? What do you learn from this person?
  • Who in your life is a role model for offering help to others?

Asking & Giving Help

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. — Dalai Lama

In my deepest, darkest moments, what really got me through was a prayer. ‘Help me.’ — Iyanla Vanzant

Prayer is more of a relay race. Its what we do for each other and what we do for the world. When we pray,  we hold ourselves and our loved ones and the world up to God. And then we pass it off for the next person to do the same. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

We’re all imperfect and we all have needs. The weak usually do not ask for help, so they stay weak. If we recognize that we are imperfect, we will ask for help and we will pray for the guidance necessary to bring positive results to whatever we are doing. — John Wooden

There are many doors to goodness. (Saying) ‘glory to God,’ ‘praise be to God,’ ‘there is no deity but God,’ enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf (until you understand them), leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the weak with the strength of one’s arms – all of these are (forms of) charity prescribed for you. — Prophet Muhammad You must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. C.S. Lewis

Requesting help … encourages you to get closer to others. Opening yourself up to receive assistance means relating, which is an essential need for every person. A shared experience, even at a time when you struggle, can increase empathy and understanding. It makes you feel as though you are not the only person going through a tough time, making you feel less alone, too. You also feel grateful when someone helps you. This can help reduce fear and depression. You see kindness in someone else, and you appreciate that quality. Finally, you can feel more confident in your own ability to change and grow when you ask for help. Achieving this “growth mindset” reinforces that it’s common to need assistance and common to give it. — 7SummithPathways

… life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’ — Billy Graham Well, I’ve heard people say that God is the gift of desperation, and there’s a lot to be said for having really reached a bottom where you’ve run out of anymore good ideas, or plans for everybody else’s behavior; or how to save and fix and rescue; or just get out of a huge mess, possibly of your own creation. And when you’re done, you may take a long, quavering breath and say, ‘Help.’ People say ‘help’ without actually believing anything hears that. But it is the great prayer, and it is the hardest prayer, because you have to admit defeat — you have to surrender, which is the hardest thing any of us do, ever. A lot of the time we don’t know when we’re surrendering that we’re actually, at the same time, maybe establishing connection … to a power greater than ourselves — or something in the next concentric circle out whose name is not me. So, that to me is where help begins. You know, we’re often ashamed of asking for so much help because it seems selfish or petty or narcissistic, but I think, if there’s a God — and I believe there is — that God is there to help. That’s what God’s job is. — Anne Lamott

5 Mistaken Beliefs About Asking for Help (excerpt)
 — Lorie Corcuera, Inc.com

… Let’s evaluate why people often find it difficult to ask for and receive support.

  • Assumption 1: It’s a sign of weakness. If I can’t do it on my own, I must not know how to do it or I don’t have the skills or resources to do it.
  • Assumption 2: Allowing someone else to help me means I lose control of the situation.
  • Assumption 3: If I receive support then I have to reciprocate. What if I can’t return the favor? What if I don’t want to return the favor?
  • Assumption 4: If I ask for the support of others, I am burdening them. They are just as busy as me so how could they find the time to help out?
  • Assumption 5: I am the only one that can do it my way. It’s easier and quicker for me to do it than to train or teach someone else to help me.

These are all very strong stories we tell ourselves about what it could mean to ask for and to receive support. It’s no wonder we don’t do it often and why we are all feeling overwhelmed, and distracted, and we overcompensate for tasks that continuously exhaust our abilities and energy.

… When I consider some of the greatest leaders of our time–Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Oprah and the Dalai Lama–to name a few, they all have something in common. They inspired people through sharing their failures and admitting they didn’t have all the answers. These leaders were also openly grateful for the love and support of their circle and thus, attracted more of the same. They knew and understood they had a “village” supporting them on their journey.

Leaders who are aware, conscious, continuously growing personally and professionally, and who courageously ask for and openly receive support are stronger. Here’s why…

  1. When you ask for support, you maintain focus and energy as the task is shared with others. You create more FLOW making the journey fun and easy.
  2. When you ask for support, you create opportunities for others to share their gifts and talents. You empower others to shine, and you learn more about others’ strengths and passions.
  3. When you ask for support, you allow others to experience the happiness that comes from giving. When we give or receive a gift, we release oxytocin, a powerful bond-stimulating hormone.
  4. When you ask for support, you are trusting in others, which strengthens the trust between you and your supporters.
  5. When you ask for support, you are stating that you are imperfect just like everyone else and others will relate to you. No one is perfect and everyone has room to grow.

In summary, there is strength in being vulnerable, in being human. We were designed to co-create life changing experiences together.

Who can you ask for support today and give the gift of giving?

Themes of recognition & rescue, wisdom & self-awareness: Epiphany.

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;  mastering yourself is true power.”
― Lao Tzu

Any fool can know. The point is to understand.
― Albert Einstein

The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them. ― Paulo Coelho

Songs:

Questions to consider for Epiphany (from Matthew 2: 1-12):

  • What gifts would you offer to symbolize the value and meaning of someone’s life? What gifts would symbolize your life?
  • What gifts have you put to the service of others? What gifts have you held in reserve? Used cautiously? Or completely expended?
  • When have you been surprised by evil or someone’s dangerous intentions? Or injustice and oppression on a systemic level? What was at stake?
  • When have you seen people in power and authority misuse their positions to harm others? How did you respond?
  • When have you acted in hope, despite darkness or despair?
  • When have you had to change directions and ‘go home another way’?
  • When you’ve had a powerful, transformative experience, what’s it like to return home?
  • Have you ever protected, rescued or saved someone? Have you ever been saved or rescued?
  • Have you ever been a refugee yourself, or helped a refugee?

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;  mastering yourself is true power.”
― Lao Tzu

Any fool can know. The point is to understand.
― Albert Einstein

The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them. ― Paulo Coelho

Wisdom

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool. ― William Shakespeare
 
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. ― Aristotle
 
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.― Socrates
 
The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. ― Isaac Asimov
 
There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. … “Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.”  ― Alexandre Dumas
 
Think before you speak. Read before you think. ― Fran Lebowitz
 
Turn your wounds into wisdom. ― Oprah Winfrey
 
There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man. ― Patrick Rothfuss
 
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. ― Confucious
 
God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas but for scars. ― Elbert Hubbard
 
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. ― Rumi
 
It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer. ― Albert Einstein
 
Don’t Gain The World & Lose Your Soul, Wisdom Is Better Than Silver Or Gold. ― Bob Marley
 
Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens. ― Jimi Hendrix
 
We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ― Joseph Campbell
 
The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark. ― Thomas Paine
 
The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise. ― Maya Angelou
 
He who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions. ― Confucius
 
Music is … A higher revelation than all Wisdom & Philosophy. ― Ludwig van Beethoven

On the Mystery of the Incarnation
Denise Levertov

It’s when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother, the Word.
 


The Journey Of The Magi — T.S. Eliot

A cold coming we had of it, Just the worst time of the year For a journey, and such a long journey: The ways deep and the weather sharp, The very dead of winter.’ And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow. There were times we regretted, The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces, And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

Then the camel men cursing and grumbling and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters, And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it. At the end we preferred to travel all night, Sleeping in snatches, With the voices singing in our ears, saying That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley, Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation; With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness, And three trees on the low sky, And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel, Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins. But there was no information, and so we continued, And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember, And I would do it again, but set down, This set down.
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly. We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death. We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

On Refugees

To be called a refugee is the opposite of an insult; it is a badge of strength, courage, and victory. — Tennessee Office for Refugees

Recognize yourself in he and she who are not like you and me. ― Carlos Fuentes

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. — Emma Lazarus

Refugees are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, with the same hopes and ambitions as us—except that a twist of fate has bound their lives to a global refugee crisis on an unprecedented scale. — Khaled Hosseini

No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land. — Warsan Shire

We have a legal and moral obligation to protect people fleeing bombs, bullets and tyrants, and throughout history those people have enriched our society. — Juliet Stevenson

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. — Martin Luther King Jr.

A refugee is someone who survived and who can create the future. – Amela Koluder

Refugees are not terrorists. They are often the first victims of terrorism. — António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres

Refugees didn’t just escape a place. They had to escape a thousand memories until they’d put enough time and distance between them and their misery to wake to a better day. — Nadia Hashimi

It is the obligation of every person born in a safer room to open the door when someone in danger knocks. — Dina Nayeri

When Europeans arrived on this continent, they blew it with the Native Americans. They plowed over them, taking as much as they could of their land and valuables, and respecting almost nothing about the native cultures. They lost the wisdom of the indigenous peoples-wisdom about the land and connectedness to the great web of life…We have another chance with all these refugees. People come here penniless but not cultureless. They bring us gifts. We can synthesize the best of our traditions with the best of theirs. We can teach and learn from each other to produce a better America… ― Mary Pipher

HOME — Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

Meditations on tangible love during Advent 4: holy, messy, stubborn love that moves among us here on earth.

I believe God loves the world through us—through you and me. — Mother Teresa

The three grand essentials of happiness are: Something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.― George Washington Burnap

The great struggle of … life is to take God’s name for us, to believe we are beloved and to believe that is enough. ― Rachel Held Evans

The roots of a lasting relationship are mindfulness, deep listening and loving speech, and a strong community to support you. — Thich Nhat Hanh

You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.
― William W. Purkey

Prayer
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
— St. Teresa of Ávila
 

Questions to consider:

  • When did you have an experience of holy, stubborn love this week?
  • When has love insisted on showing up, despite whatever should have turned it away, in your life?
  • What or who has been transformed by love, in your life?
  • When have you served as tangible love in someone else’s life?
  • What is your ‘language’ of love? How do you express love to others? Read an article on this concept.
  • In what ways are you willing to receive or accept love? When and how is it hard to allow yourself to be loved?
  • What songs make your playlist as great love songs? Are they romantic or do they describe a different kind of love?

HOLY, STUBBORN LOVE: Incarnate, Embodied, Among-Us

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ― Rumi

Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love. ― Mahatma Gandhi

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Every one of us is trying to find our true home. Some of us are still searching. Our true home is inside, but it’s also in our loved ones around us. When you’re in a loving relationship, you and the other person can be a true home for each other. ― Thich Nhat Hanh

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close. ― Pablo Neruda

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. ― Elie Wiesel

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always. ― Mahatma Gandhi

I am nothing special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough … ― Nicholas Sparks

Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love. — Mother Teresa

You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not. ― Jodi Picoult

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could. ― Louise Erdrich

The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater. ― J.R.R. Tolkien

Spiritual Commentary on Love

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. ― Dalai Lama

I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us. ― Anne Lamott

Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change. ― Richard Rohr 

Understanding someone’s suffering is the best gift you can give another person. Understanding is love’s other name. If you don’t understand, you can’t love. ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

What I love about the ministry of Jesus is that he identified the poor as blessed and the rich as needy…and then he went and ministered to them both. This, I think, is the difference between charity and justice. Justice means moving beyond the dichotomy between those who need and those who supply and confronting the frightening and beautiful reality that we desperately need one another. ― Rachel Held Evans

God’s grace is a gift that is freely given to us. We don’t earn a thing when it comes to God’s love, and we only try to live in response to the gift. No one is climbing the spiritual ladder. We don’t continually improve until we are so spiritual we no longer need God. We die and are made new, but that’s different from spiritual self-improvement. We are simultaneously sinner and saint, 100 percent of both, all the time. The Bible is not God. The Bible is simply the cradle that holds Christ. Anything in the Bible that does not hold up to the Gospel of Jesus Christ simply does not have the same authority. The movement in our relationship to God is always from God to us. Always. We can’t, through our piety or goodness, move closer to God. God is always coming near to us. Most especially in the Eucharist and in the stranger.
― Nadia Bolz-Weber

When love awakens in your life, in the night of your heart, it is like the dawn breaking within you. Where before there was anonymity, now there is intimacy; where before there was fear, now there is courage; where before in your life there was awkwardness, now there is a rhythm of grace and gracefulness; where before you used to be jagged, now you are elegant and in rhythm with your self. When love awakens in your life, it is like a rebirth, a new beginning. ― John O’Donohue

Reflections on joy, Advent 3 theme

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in You, a joy.  — Rumi 

Questions to consider about joy:

  • What is the difference between joy and other states of being, such as happiness?
  • What is essential to experience joy?
  • When has joy surprised you?

And All Be Made Well – Jan Richardson

That each ill be released from you
and each sorrow be shed from you
and each pain be made comfort for you
and each wound be made whole in you

that joy will arise in you
and strength will take hold of you
and hope will take wing for you
and all be made well.

For Equilibrium, a Blessing — John O’Donohue
Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.
As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.
Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.
As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.
As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.
As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.
May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the depths the laughter of god.

JOY
 
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. – Tagore
 
To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with. – Mark Twain
 
The three factors that seem to have the greatest influence on increasing our happiness are our ability to reframe our situation more positively, our ability to experience gratitude, and our choice to be kind and generous. – Dalai Lama 
 
All Joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still ‘about to be’. – CS Lewis
 
When you are grateful, you are not fearful, and when you are not fearful, you are not violent. When you are grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not out of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people and respectful to all people. The grateful world is a world of joyful people. Grateful people are joyful people. A grateful world is a happy world. — Brother Steindl-Rast
 
 We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do.  – Dalai Lama 
 
‘Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate. – John Green
 
Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities. – Fred Rogers 

I call it Joy. … But certain other experiences were… The first is itself the memory of a memory. As I stood beside a flowering currant bush on a summer day there suddenly arose in me without warning, and as if from a depth not of years but of centuries, the memory of that earlier morning at the Old House when my brother had brought his toy garden into the nursery. It is difficult or find words strong enough for the sensation which came over me; Milton’s ‘enormous bliss’ of Eden (giving the full, ancient meaning to ‘enormous’) comes somewhere near it. It was a sensation, of course, of desire; but desire for what?…Before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse… withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased… In a sense the central story of my life is about nothing else… The quality common to the three experiences … is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again… I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and Pleasure often is. — CS Lewis
 
I’d like to repeat the advice that I gave you before, in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. 

… Don’t settle down and sit in one place. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon. You are still going to live a long time, … and it would be a shame if you did not take the opportunity to revolutionize your life and move into an entirely new realm of experience.

You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living. My point is that you do not need me or anyone else around to bring this new kind of light in your life. It is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it- Jon Krakauer

Reflections on songs of justice and resilience: themes for Advent 1 from Mary’s Magnificat (song) in Luke 1.

PLAY LISTS: Justice Songs (some lists)

  • Social justice songs: link
  • Songs about class and poverty: link 
  • Songs to listen to while fighting for social justice: link
  • Civil rights songs that promote freedom and justice: link

Questions to consider (Luke 1):

  • What songs of justice are on your play list?
  • When have you stood and sung for justice, or in resistance to injustice? What was at stake?
  • Who still needs songs of justice in this world?
  • When you sing for justice, do you sing solo or as part of a group or community? When and how would you choose either role?

One Song — Rumi

Every war and every conflict between human beings
has happened because of some disagreement about names.

It is such an unnecessary foolishness,
because just beyond the arguing
there is a long table of companionship
set and waiting for us to sit down.

What is praised is one, so the praise is one too,
many jugs being poured into a huge basin.
All religions, all this singing, one song.
The differences are just illusion and vanity.
Sunlight looks a little different on this wall
than it does on that wall
and a lot different on this other one,
but it is still one light.

We have borrowed these clothes,
these time-and-space personalities,
from a light, and when we praise,
we are pouring them back in.

Of Songs and Music: Love Beyond Language

Then the singing enveloped me. It was furry and resonant, coming from everyone’s very heart. There was no sense of performance or judgment, only that the music was breath and food. ― Anne Lamott

You are the music while the music lasts. — T.S. Eliot

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination …— Plato

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. Plato

Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought. ― E.Y. Harburg

Thus, though music be a universal language, it is spoken with all sorts of accents. — George Bernard Shaw

There is as much music in the world as virtue. In a world of peace and love music would be the universal language … All things obey music as they obey virtue. It is the herald of virtue. It is God’s voice. — Henry David Thoreau

Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones. — Keith Richards

If music be the food of love, play on. — William Shakespeare

If I cannot fly, let me sing. – Stephen Sondheim

Without music, life would be a mistake.  – Friedrich Nietzsche

The only thing better than singing is more singing. – Ella Fitzgerald

The greatest respect an artist can pay to music is to give it life. – Pablo Casals

Love, I find, is like singing. ― Zora Neale Hurston

She sang, as requested. There was much about love in the ballad: faithful love that refused to abandon its object; love that disaster could not shake; love that, in calamity, waxed fonder, in poverty clung closer. The words were set to a fine old air — in themselves they were simple and sweet: perhaps, when read, they wanted force; when well sung, they wanted nothing. Shirley sang them well: she breathed into the feeling, softness, she poured round the passion, force … ― Charlotte Brontë, Shirley

Songs as Justice & Resistance

Singing in the midst of evil is what it means to be disciples. … To sing to God amidst sorrow is to defiantly proclaim … that death is not the final word. To defiantly say, once again, that a light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot, will not, shall not overcome it. And so, evil be damned, because even as we go to the grave, we still make our song alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. ― Nadia Bolz-Weber,Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint

Do it. Hell, get the song taken down if you want. But you’ll never silence me. I got too goddamn much to say. ― Angie Thomas, On the Come Up

Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music. Jimi Hendrix

Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music. Jimi Hendrix

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness. — Maya Angelou

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. — Victor Hugo

Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music. — Jimi Hendrix

Sirens everywhere, singing that street song. Violence everywhere, barely holding on… — Alicia Keyes

Turnin nothin into somethin, is God work, And you get nothin without struggle and hard work— Nas

Writing, painting, singing- it cannot stop everything. Cannot halt death in its tracks. But perhaps it can make the pause between death’s footsteps sound and look and feel beautiful, can make the space of waiting a place where you can linger without as much fear. For we are all walking each other to our deaths, and the journey there between footsteps makes up our lives. ― Ally Condie, Reached