Slippery Slope~

 

 

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Climbing down the slippery cliff toward our favorite beach, we held on for dear life. Rain the night before had made the already treacherous path even more dangerous. Yet, beach goers like ourselves knew that the snorkeling and swimming below was worth the effort so we forged ahead!

In our little group we had two toddlers to be mindful of so it was truly amazing to watch how thoughtful and kind other “path climbers” were to allow us to pass making sure those kids got to the bottom or the top safely. Mind you, stepping out-of-the-way or making room was as challenging as actually making the trek!

Feet full of red clay, a few scratches here and there and a fresh bruise on the bottom of my foot; I and my family made it to the bottom to enjoy this spectacular beach; not once but 4 times during our stay on Kauai!

Hidden Beach is a small beach in the Princeville area of the Island of Kauai; this area draws hundreds and hundreds of vacationers every single year! This beach is a “hidden” favorite and not for the faint of heart.

This particular day the surf was especially high as there was a hurricane looming outside the area; we were on alert but not deeply concerned. As so many folks gathered on this small strip of beach I was enjoying the sounds of so many different languages all around me; a gathering place of so many individuals and families from every nation, economic status, gender, personal persuasions, and spiritual focus. We were all so different as we enjoyed this God-given gift of His beautiful ocean together.

Mid-day it happened. Waves had been slowly creeping closer and closer to the place where our towels (and the towels of many others) had been carefully laid out. Snorkel gear, children’s sand toys, and ice chests full of well-prepared lunches were spread around the outside of the towels.

All of a sudden an especially large set of waves blew in and without any warning shot huge waves far beyond the water line that it had marked for most of the day.   Saltwater flew all the way up to the rock wall that served as the back of the beach until this point! Possessions belonging to every beach goer began to fly in all directions and quickly began being pulled along with the wave back into the ocean!

Everybody grabbed items for everybody. Everybody tried to help everybody. Everybody wanted everyone to retain all his or her items. Everyone worked together for the common good. Everyone!

I’m certain that a child’s shovel or two were pulled out to sea but we all had the good fortune to have taken all our personal items home, they were soaked but they were ours. Each one of us was grateful to everyone’s willingness and kindness. We smiled a knowing smile as we nodded a “thank you” to one another.

Later that night I took time to ponder what that experience meant to me. What stood out about that situation that grabbed my attention in a fresh way? What made me smile? For me, watching the willingness strangers in every walk of life and every way of living lay aside any differences to jump to their feet to simply help another human being. They weren’t get paid or rewarded, no one mandated the response. Everyone just jumped in to help collectively and it was crazy, beautiful to watch.

This unique gathering of people on the beach is a picture of gatherings we might find at a concert, the airport, or even a restaurant. Yet, it could also be your grocery store, library, or even church. It took a huge wave to cause us all to jump to our feet in an effort to reach across our comfort levels to help each other; it took a mini-crisis.

We often see individuals cross comfort lines when there is a shooting, a weather crisis, or some other community or world tragedy.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if it didn’t take a crisis, tragedy, or “mini-crisis” for us to love actively on those around us? Imagine the impact in our world if we all spent our days being watchful to come alongside those who are so different from us to encourage them, support them, or to simply lend a hand!

Fall is a little like the first of January, it can feel like a fresh start in many ways. Take this season to consider stepping beyond a crisis or comfort zone to be God’s sweet hand extended to beautiful humans who simply might not be comfortably similar to you.

 

Finding your soul begins by discovering our ability to listen! Alternatively, by sharing a smile, a laugh and just by being human to everyone – from friends, colleagues, family, and especially strangers, including those who are not from the same station in life as you.

The Freedoms we may Forget~

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My son is a fantastic Jr. High teacher; very creative in his efforts to teach his students well.  Recently he has been teaching his  students about India; talking about the many religious beliefs and traditional systems that generations have either enjoyed or endured for hundreds of years.

Yesterday he was trying to teach his students about the “Caste” system that has been  (and often still is) used to keep people in their rightful place.  The students drew numbers and based on that choice were placed with a group who had to complete tasks together~ some interesting tasks, some very menial based on the level of caste they were in.  I believe the whole concept of being “placed” into a lifestyle where you must remain based on your level in life was kinda surprising and uncomfortable for students who have been raised in America.

When I travel and spent the summer in India many years ago I saw the Caste system in place for myself; an older gentleman sweeping the same small area of the street every day, all day for life, with the hope that he would prove himself worthy and have a chance at living his next life at a higher level.  When visiting the Taj Majal there was a man who mowed the grass there by leading a cow with a crude type of steel grass cutting tool. I was told that this man fulfilled this task day after day after day in hopes of moving to a higher level of caste in his next life.

Another element of the caste system is that if you are privileged to find yourself in a higher caste you are not even allowed to look upon an “untouchable”, those of a lower caste!  So within the system,  those with greater influence cannot even give a “hand up” to those whose find themselves to be “untouchables”.

All of this got me thinking about America.  There are, indeed, many pockets of society where children are born into extremely difficult situations.  There are many people who find themselves in places, geography wise and family wise, where they feel they will never be able to live a life any different then what they are experiencing.

However, the difference between our freedoms and that of a caste system is that we actually “can” change our station in life with incredible perseverance, education, creativity,  and tenacity.  In America we do have the freedom, within our one life, to move from poverty to success, from dysfunction to health, if we can apply ourselves in intentional ways!  No one has made it a law that we cannot “change” our station in life. There are many stories of those whose lives were desperately challenged yet managed to pull themselves up and out to find a life of influence and purpose.

Another factor in our American freedoms is our choice to help others success.  As fellow citizens we are completely free to lend a hand to another, to financially support an individual with a challenging beginning  in creative ways.  Rarely does a person soar without people around them who “gave them a foot up”.  In America we have the freedom to help make a difference and we should!

So in this season of challenging political rhetoric, let’s not forget the freedoms that we have, the choices weare free to consider, and the opportunities we are free to undertake in this great land of ours, and our freedom to lend a hand to those who need it!

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What Mattered Most~~

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As a little girl I would be giddy the week before Christmas! The anticipation of our family traditions would cause me to lay awake at night; so excited, sleepless! I knew our stockings would be on the hearth Christmas morning filled with an Orange, Whitman’s Chocolate, a book of Lifesavers, and other wonderful trinkets that any little girl would love!  I knew there would be a gift or two for me that my mom would have picked out ( letting my dad know what she had chosen) especially for me.  I knew we would have a wonderful breakfast with cinnamon roles !!

However, the experience that meant the most to me was something completely different from what I would receive. I credit my amazing parents for this!  The week before Christmas our parents would take we girls shopping for those in our “neighborhood” who were financially or physically challenged.

Off we would go to Woolworth’s to purchase toys, home needs, and warm clothes that would bless those who were in need!  Later at home we would anonymously wrap the gifts and put them in a large box.  Around 8pm Christmas Eve we would excitedly pile into the car and head to the homes of those with whom we had prepared a surprise!! Pulling up to their home, we would quietly sneak up to the porch, place the box quietly down, ring the bell and RUN!!!

I remember the family with the severely retarded son due to measles or the blind man living in a barn with about 10 cats……..they just needed hope; joy!

The feeling of JOY was huge for us all. To be in a position to make a difference, to meet a need, to cause someone to smile, meant the world to us!!

Perhaps your family could make a difference in your neighborhood.  Perhaps you could build this sweet tradition into your own family. IF you are in a position to make a difference~~ do it!! Your children will watch and learn from you!! This is the true spirit of Christmas–Christ came to give…………………….

Merry Christmas to you all~~ wishing you incredible joy!!