Freedom From Fear

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt offered us his four basic freedoms. The fourth being freedom from fear. It is fear which keeps us from experiencing life to the fullest. We withdraw into the places of safety that shut out the rest of the world.  

We retreat from the things that threaten us. The intensity of fear, as it increases, draws us back further and further until we are known only to ourselves.  Finally, we are not engaged at all.  We are only surviving.

“All hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and openhearted vision of people who embrace life.” ~ John Lennon

Fear can be overcome in the presence of a passionate mission. With such a mission we reject the notion of survival and thrive despite fear.  Passion is fueled by love which is the antithesis of fear.  And passion is at the very heart of excitement.   We can be so excited about the present moment with all of its possibilities that fear is pushed aside.  We move through it and beyond it because our mission is more important than anything else.

Video

Jim Valvano

Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig and Jim Valvano are wonderful models of what it means to face certain death and ruthless pain with fearlessness.  One had ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and the other had cancer.  Both continued to thrive and overcome every day to the very end. Gehrig’s ‘Luckiest Man’ speech at Yankee Stadium, and his baseball clinics for kids being treated at Mayo in Rochester, Minnesota shine for us decades after his death.  Jim Valvano’s ESPY speech inspires young and old alike.  It serves to fund cancer research efforts through the V Foundation.  He simply tells us; “Don’t give up.  Don’t ever give up.” These are words to guide us.  They are examples of great passion.  They direct us to live it well and to live it without succumbing to fear.

The Activism of Love

“It’s a huge danger to pretend that awful things do not happen.  But you need enough hope to keep going. I am trying to make hope.  Flowers grow out of darkness.” ~ Corita Kent

Corita Kent, once a nun called Sister Mary Corita, worked to bring religious and secular people together at Immaculate Heart College and assisted in a peacemaking campaign with Physicians for Social Responsibility. As a result, Cardinal James McIntyre began a movement to frame Kent as blasphemous and the college as communist. In 1968, Mary Corita, followed by most of the sisters at the college, made a difficult decision to return to secular life.  This ultimately led to the closing of Immaculate Heart.  She was named Woman of The Year by The Los Angeles Times, was featured on the cover of Time Magazine and received the American Institute of Graphic Arts Medal.  Remembered by many for her Love Stamp used by the USPS, Corita Kent’s vast work is held by several art museums and private collectors including The Whitney, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Corita Kent Artwork

The intense faith demonstrated in Corita’s activism and art remains an inspiration in these times of violence, divisiveness, and rancor. There is a beautiful amalgamation of the holy and the human that we fail to embrace nowadays. We seem to have missed the point that God is Love and each of us is a gift of God.  Our mission is to transform the world.  Not by fighting against one another…but by combining divine and human love into an undeniable force for good. It is the only way.

All You Need is Love

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“We’ve got the gift of love, but love is like a precious plant.  You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard, or just think it’s gonna get on with itself.  You gotta keep watering it.  You’ve got to really look after it…and nurture it.” ~ John Lennon
Love is perfect.  Even in the cloudy reflection of broken relationships, love blesses us for having experienced it at all.  Our fragile and conditional human expressions of love can cause pangs of regret and worry, but even so, without it we would be lost.  Every time we allow ourselves to become vulnerable and open to the possibilities of love, we are drawing closer to God.  Every time we let go of resentment in favor of forgiveness, we are walking with Gods hand in ours.  Every time we stop to help a child, the Spirit of God is moving in our heart.  Love is not only perfect it is the light that dispels the darknesses which would otherwise destroy us. We are directed to “Love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves.”  This instruction, if truly followed, provides challenges that can keep us on track throughout our lives.  We will be continually transformed.  Everything else falls into place as we love first and foremost.  This is not easy work and requires that, as John Lennon says, we really look after it and nurture it.  We must allow ourselves to be loved as well as to give love.  Love counts us worthy even when we feel unworthy.  It identifies each of us as the beloved child of God.  When we accept this, we will be able to share it with others.  Then, the love we give will be the love we get.   [/et_pb_text][et_pb_team_member admin_label=”Robert Kenneth Jones” name=”Robert Kenneth Jones” position=”Columnist” image_url=”https://chaplainusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/robert.jpg” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/KenJonesBoy” linkedin_url=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-kenneth-jones-8861183/” _builder_version=”3.5.1″ header_font=”||||||||” header_text_align=”left” header_font_size=”26px” body_font=”||||||||” body_font_size=”14px” body_line_height=”1.4em” border_radii=”on|1px|1px|1px|1px” border_width_all=”2px” border_color_all=”#d4cfc4″ border_radii_image=”on|29px|29px|29px|29px” text_orientation=”left” max_width=”89%” module_alignment=”center” custom_margin=”38px|||” custom_padding=”47px|33px|0px|32px” filter_saturate=”95%” animation_style=”fade” saved_tabs=”all” use_background_color_gradient=”off” background_color_gradient_direction=”180deg” parallax=”off” background_size=”cover” background_position=”center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_blend=”normal” allow_player_pause=”off” background_video_pause_outside_viewport=”on” header_level=”h4″ header_letter_spacing=”0px” header_text_shadow_style=”none” body_letter_spacing=”0px” body_text_shadow_style=”none” box_shadow_style=”none” box_shadow_style_image=”none” background_layout=”light” filter_hue_rotate=”0deg” filter_brightness=”100%” filter_contrast=”100%” filter_invert=”0%” filter_sepia=”0%” filter_opacity=”100%” filter_blur=”0px” mix_blend_mode=”normal” child_filter_hue_rotate=”0deg” child_filter_saturate=”100%” child_filter_brightness=”100%” child_filter_contrast=”100%” child_filter_invert=”0%” child_filter_sepia=”0%” child_filter_opacity=”100%” child_filter_blur=”0px” child_mix_blend_mode=”normal” animation_repeat=”once” animation_direction=”center” animation_duration=”1000ms” animation_delay=”0ms” animation_starting_opacity=”0%” animation_speed_curve=”ease-in-out” animation=”off” text_shadow_style=”none” global_module=”26968″] 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 [/et_pb_team_member][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Father’s Day and Our Expectations

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“Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’.” ~ Harper Lee

There are many standards by which we might judge the men who helped bring us to life.  But, for lots of people, their fathers’ performance fell short of hopes. The line, spoken to young Scout by Reverend Sykes in “To Kill A Mockingbird” is one of the most simple yet profound ones ever uttered in the movies.

Atticus Finch fought the good fight. And that, regardless of outcomes, merits enduring respect.  What more can we expect from our fathers?

from To Kill a Mocking Bird

I was one of the fortunate ones.  My Dad, Ken Jones, was a great, gentle and loving giant who lived life to the fullest.  He made time to take with me him every Sunday as we went on some kind of adventure (often playing hooky from church).

He was always able to demonstrate his love in words and actions, unlike many men who had come back scarred from battle in World War II.  I would squirm as he often posed his question; “Who loves ya baby?” to which I had to reply “Daddy loves me.” How embarrassing! 

He was patient but firm and I made it my mission to avoid disappointing him.  He loved playing cards with me and my friends when we were teenagers and college kids, always taking us for every dime in the poker pot.  I could go on and on.

Ken Jones with son.

It’s strange though.  I have found it pretty easy to talk about Dad, and to tell stories about him, but have never written about him in my blogs or columns.  In fact, I have never written about Father’s Day at all.  Maybe because putting it down on paper makes his loss more real or maybe because I didn’t come close to measuring up as a father myself.  I’m not sure which.  But I do know that I was no Ken Jones.

It was a Wednesday, late in the afternoon, in September of 1975 when I pulled into my parent’s driveway to find neighbors gathered on the lawn and an ambulance from Pape Funeral Home in front of the garage.  My first thought was this; “I hope it’s not Dad.”

But it was.  I was 24 and he was 66 when he died.  Both of us were too young.  Dad fought the good fight.  Whether our fathers lived up to our expectations or not, perhaps that is the best gift they can give us.  Stand up Scout.

 

Banner photo by Wade Austin Ellis on Unsplash

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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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Transforming Cheerfulness

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“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” ~ Helen Keller

People who have been transformed by some significant experience can be so inspiring.  I wonder why they can also annoy us. We have all been around someone who has made an alter call, been on a spiritual adventure or who has found new life in recovery from addiction.  We have encountered those ignited by a self-help course, heard a speech that was life changing or just returned from a retreat.

They want so much to tell us their story and bring us with them on the new-found path.  But they also can transmit a kind of overwhelming morality and seriousness which can make us want to get away from them as soon as possible.  We want what they have found but hesitate in the face of their cheerfulness.  Perhaps it’s because we are afraid to change.

It is easier to accept the challenge of change when we recognize it as a gift.  When received as a gift, change will necessarily lead us to cheerful action.  Helen Keller’s directive to ‘be of good cheer’ is incredibly important.  They call us to do good in the world with a cheerful spirit.

The indomitable Helen Keller.

Cheerful people leave a lasting impact. The joy, mirth and laughter that follow a cheerful soul bring gifts of optimism and a sort of sunrise to the spirit of others. We have a choice. We can be determined to be cheerful or we can be restrained, unremarkable and boring.

When we are unselfish, generous without expectation of paybacks, and welcoming of strangers, people will begin to believe in the truth of our own transformation.  When we treat those who can’t fight back with mercy, love those who don’t love us and forgive those who have harmed us, our new character will shine.

Something beautiful will happen.  The cheerful person with opened arms will soon find them filled with those who have been waiting for our embrace.

___________________________

 

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_team_member admin_label=”Robert Kenneth Jones” name=”Robert Kenneth Jones” position=”Columnist” image_url=”https://chaplainusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/robert.jpg” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/KenJonesBoy” linkedin_url=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-kenneth-jones-8861183/” _builder_version=”3.0.101″ global_module=”26968″ saved_tabs=”all”]

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 Mother’s Love

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Author’s mother and infant sister.

“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.” ~ Mitch Albom

Our mothers give us life. 

Nurtured and developed as one from our conception to birth, we spend the rest of our time separating.  We yearn for her embrace and reject it over and over.  We bless her for her kindness and protection, and then curse her for embarrassing and smothering us.  We run back to her for kisses yet flee her when we are ‘busy’.

There are so many complications in our relationships.  That same giver of life, however, never gives up on us, never grows truly weary of our bothers and always hopes and prays for us.

I have been given the great blessing of witnessing generations of mothers in my family.  My daughters have given birth to my grandsons and granddaughters.

Five years ago my wife and I went to be with my youngest after the birth of her first child, Jack.  The way she looked down at her little guy with that wondrous frown of delight, her tenderness, soothing words, pleasure in her husband, and hourly sacrifices made me remember her mother.  I see her in her Mama’s arms and something inside of me sees my mom and grandmother doing the same things through the ages.

I have experienced the transformation of my daughter-in-law as she moves from work to home summoning effortlessly the energy and happiness of raising and playing with our two granddaughters in Memphis.  Then I remember playing with my own mother and grandmother on the floor as a little one.

My dear wife mothers her children, her grandchildren, her former students and her wayward husband ceaselessly and I am awed. There is never a day that goes by without her compassionate words of encouragement.

I experienced the passing of my sister-in-law a few years ago.  Her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren grieved her loss and celebrated her life together. Her grace remains with each of them as time goes on.

On this Mother’s Day, all of this reminds me that our mothers are truly to be called blessed forever.  The love they give is more than we can ever return. So, today I will pray for all mothers.  I will remember their love that gives us life.

_______________________

 

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_team_member name=”Robert Kenneth Jones” position=”Columnist” image_url=”https://chaplainusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/robert.jpg” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/KenJonesBoy” linkedin_url=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-kenneth-jones-8861183/” admin_label=”Robert Kenneth Jones” _builder_version=”3.0.101″ global_module=”26968″ saved_tabs=”all”]

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

[/et_pb_team_member][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.2″][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.2″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.2″]

Banner Photo by Randy Rooibaatjie on Unsplash

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The Reverence of Kindness

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“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” ~ Mother Teresa

We have the wonderful opportunity to bring a message of kindness, hope and joy where we might have inflicted damage and beaten others down in the past. We are all starved for such words and so richly blessed when we hear them. 

I wonder what it might be like, or what sort of kindnesses we might extend if we recognized God in the face of everyone we meet.  Can you imagine the awe we might have for one another?  The reality that each of us is created in the image of God should be enough to at least give us pause. 

The stranger, the wounded, and even the arrogant people would become our beloved relative.  This is not some dreamy illusion but is a spiritual truth.  The only thing lacking is our reverence.  It is reverence that identifies the sacred.  And the sacred surrounds each and every one of us.

“Kindness, I’ve discovered, is everything in life.” ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

Our mission is to treat each other very well.  The final words attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi were ‘brothers, while there is still time, let us do good’.  This means that kindness and compassion should always be our lot. 

We can only do this sort of good when we are filled with reverence and awe for the very fact that the other is our relative, our dear, found relative.  Kindness, gratitude and gentleness will become second nature. 

Love will replace suspicion and guardedness will be exchanged for generosity.  We cannot afford to waste time arguing and grasping for personal power, control and relevance.  Now is the time to seek God in the present moment, in the hearts and eyes of our fellow travelers, and in the hands that long for our touch.

_______________________

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_team_member name=”Robert Kenneth Jones” position=”Columnist” image_url=”https://chaplainusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/robert.jpg” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/KenJonesBoy” linkedin_url=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-kenneth-jones-8861183/” admin_label=”Robert Kenneth Jones” _builder_version=”3.0.101″ global_module=”26968″ saved_tabs=”all”]

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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