Someone has been making Valentines.

I don’t suppose it’s plagiarism to grab something I wrote two years ago and put it up here today.  This is an old gratitude list, but as I was looking at it this morning, I was struck by how profoundly applicable it is to my Now, so I am reprising it today.  I need to keep point #5 in mind.  I could extend that one today, to say that when we really believe in the goodness of people, in the truth of their hearts, people rise and reach outward in ways that surprise us all.  I know it’s true for me.  I am always more likely to extend myself out of my self-absorbed bubble when I know that the people around me are expecting the best of me.

With students, I think this is incredibly important.  When we approach a situation or a class with a sense of suspicion, they will respond with defiance.  When we believe in their hearts and minds, and ask them to be authentic human beings, they are eager to share their profound truths and to show kindness.  Yes, there is sometimes a lot of goofiness and cynicism and youthful narcissism to wade through at times, but accountability and trust are powerful offerings that help to overcome some of the prickliness.  And they, of course, often see our own prickliness and harshness more clearly than we do.

Gratitude List:

1.  Strong boundaries
2.  Compassionate hearts
3.  The balance of boundaries and compassion
4.  Morning mist rising from my River.  When I say “my” River, I don’t mean it as mine alone.  Nor do I mean that it is my River exclusive of all other rivers.  But it can be my River and one of my rivers and still belong also to you and to all of us in the way that I can say you are my Friend, and yet you are not exclusively mine, nor are you my only friend, but that I love you in a particular way that is particular to our relationship.  My River.  The mist rises from it in the red morning light, and there is so much magic in it.  And also in you.
5.  And this: Goodness.  There is so much goodness in people, in strangers even.  And I know too many stories, especially in recent days, of people who fell to the lowest pitches of bullyhood and meanness and real evil when left to their own devices.  But this also is true, so gloriously true: that so many people are simply good, simply full of heart and tenderness and compassion.  That you do not have to bang on the doors or scratch very deeply at all before goodness oozes out all over, fresh and raw and sweet like honey.  I have seen it just today, how you can look into a stranger’s eyes and see it and know it is there, and follow it.   The guy who drives your tow truck may be a philosopher to rival the ancient mystics.  The woman who sells you groceries may have some rich wisdom about human nature that even the respected psychoanalysts have yet to figure.  So many wise ones to discover.  So many namaste moments to explore.

May we walk in Beauty.

2 thoughts on “Reprise

  1. “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”
    ~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

    Love that your list begins with Strong boundaries and ends with Goodness and .. BOY .. balance of boundaries and compassion can be like holding the tiger by the tail at times.

    Ahh, “my river” … exactly!

    The True Self

    What is the true self? It’s brilliantly transparent like the deep blue sky, and there’s no gap between it and all living beings.

    ~ Kodo Sawaki Roshi
    “The True Self”

    Thanks for all you do!
    ~ Dillon


    1. And thank you, Dillon, for all you do to inspire and challenge and offer hope.

      I really appreciate these quotes! The Goethe one is right in line with what I am meditating about these days. I was at a conference this past weekend, and one of the keynote events was a group of women from Hesston (KS) College talking about stereotype threat, and how research shows again and again that students who are expected to do poorly, or even students who think that they are stereotyped to do poorly, DO tend to do less well than they could. And when they did studies in which students were told that the stereotype that they were worried about was moot (Girls don’t succeed in math, for example), then their performance in the subject improved significantly.

      Teachers and pastors and therapists have so much power. We can diminish a light by our unbelief, or help a light to shine more brightly because we believe it will.


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