With Gold Dust at My Feet

“Grab your coat, and get your hat, leave your worry on the doorstep.  Just direct your feet, to the sunny side of the street.” ~ Dorothy Fields

The lyrics from ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ were composed by Jimmy McHugh with lyrics by Dorothy Fields in 1930 as the world was plunging into the Great Depression.  The words gave hope and were heard across the country for years.  The song became a jazz and big band standard.  It is widely believed that the stock market crash of 1929 was a symptom of deeper and more systemic problems than the events leading up to the epic day it all tanked in September.  The nation certainly did not leave worries on the doorstep.  Instead, we entered into a period of isolationism which included punitive tariffs.  The result was catastrophic.

Lessons of the Great Depression and the optimism of ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ are available to each of us in our own struggles.  Hard times come and they also go.  We can choose to isolate, withdraw, protect ourselves at the expense of others and hide with our head in the sand, or we can choose to connect with families, friends and the community.  We can absolutely find ways to help one another, and persist with an optimistic ‘Can-Do’ attitude.  Of course, no good comes from ignoring the problems that we have.  Things are resolved by taking a positive approach toward solutions.  But we need each other to make it happen.  Let’s reach out and lend a hand.

“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.” ~ Helen Keller

The Healing Heart of Compassion

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“When we experience the healing presence of another person, we can discover our own gifts of healing. Then our wounds allow us to enter into a deep solidarity with our wounded brothers and sisters.” ~ Henri Nouwen

Compassion is the ability to suffer-with those who are wounded. True compassion brings with it the gift of healing only because of the mutual experience of our own wounds, our own suffering, and our own healing. It is a sharing of our own brokenness in solidarity with those who are struggling, grieving and floundering. It is about making ourselves vulnerable in order to provide a source of comfort.

Giving advice is a lot easier than offering compassion. Helping to find solutions for the problems of others requires little effort. It is even easier to find a cure. When the person we are trying to help doesn’t follow our advice or chooses another solution we can shake the dust off, shrug our shoulders and walk away. Our inner voice says; ‘Well, at least I tried!’

Those who offer compassion know how to show up. They do not come with superpowers but with shared brokenness. They show up with an understanding heart free from judgment. They do not hide their scars for they are visible proof that wounds heal. Hand in hand, we shall overcome. Heart to heart, we can save each other…and by so doing will, as Michael Jackson sang, Heal the World. We will be doing God’s work.

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” ~ Pema Chödrön

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Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

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Sometimes the Runner Stumbles

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“Deep down we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win, too, even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.” ~ Mr. Rogers

One of my favorite movies was the 1981 classic Chariots of Fire.  It was a story of faith and a dedication to the pursuit of our passion.  It also dealt with overcoming the expectations and negative perspective of detractors.

It gave me the sense that following my dreams was more important than the opinions of others.  It also led me to an understanding that ‘sometimes the runner stumbles’.  We don’t get it right all of the time.  We fall to the ground in dejection.  We feel like giving in or giving up.  But if we ask for help and get back up we will find that there are always resources enough to carry on.

Great things begin to happen when we grasp the idea that it is our mission to be passionately engaged with one another.  It is of the highest priority.  My wife was a teacher of Special Education who was actively engaged in Special Olympics.

There is a story that circulates quite frequently about that great program, founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver.  It seems that nine contestants had signed up for the hundred yard dash one year at an Olympic site.  They lined up and took off at the sound of the starter pistol.  One of the little boys didn’t get very far before stumbling and falling.

His knee was skinned and he started to cry. The other eight kids heard him, and rather than running ahead, turned around, and ran back to him.  All eight of them went back!  The boy got up, his friends linked their arms together and joyfully walked to the finish line.  They all completed the race at the same time to the roar of the crowd, cheers and whistles.  The celebration went on for a long time.

We are reminded that when we help the one who stumbles and lock arms in solidarity with God that the words of the prophets are fulfilled;

‘We will regain our strength.  We will sprout wings like eagles.  Though we run we will not grow weary.  Though we walk we will never tire’.

 

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Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

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A Little Help From My Friends

“Enveloped in Your Light, may I be a beacon to those in search of Light. Sheltered in Your Peace, may I offer shelter to those in need of peace. Embraced by Your Presence, so may I be present to others.” ~ Rabbi Rami Shapiro

The life we live contains day and night, light and darkness.  We cannot have one without the other. 

This is no startling revelation.  Most of the time we can make it through the dark times, knowing full well they will pass.  But then there are those times when it seems the light will never shine again.  It feels as if we have dropped into a black hole, suspended in mid-air, and nothing will dispel our sadness and grief.

We become desperate and despondent.  We sink deeper and deeper into hopelessness.  Our eyes strain for some glimmer.  It is then that the one who carries a candle appears.  He comes to our side with words of encouragement and shows us the way to safety.  Soon dawn will come and night gives way to day.

“Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.” ~ Desiderius Erasmus

Our responsibility is to become the one who carries light in the darkness.  When we have been rescued, it is our job to become a rescuer.  When we have been saved, we are obligated to bring saving grace.  It is far too easy to dust ourselves off, utter some words of gratitude and run along.

Experiences of great trouble and subsequent redemption are not to be wasted by simply maintaining the status quo.  There is no purpose to having survived and thrived if all we do is carry on.  Plenty of other people are suffering the same things we suffered.  We are called to light another candle and bring it to someone who is crying in the darkness.