Yesterday was my birthday. I wanted to share about Lorato and the wonderful work she has been doing in South Africa, but instead, I was experiencing a personal “tragedy.” I wish I could say my life was constant peace and bliss, but alas, it is far from it! I may be able (on good days) to control my responses to what life brings, but unfortunately, I cannot always control what life brings. When life brings rotten tomatoes, the challenge becomes to find peace and bliss despite outer circumstances…not so easy, and not so always well done on my part. Today, in the midst of my outer experience of chaos, I read something by Paramahansa Yogananda that deeply comforted me.
“Evil serves the same purpose as does the villain in a drama. The villain’s misdeeds help to awaken in us love for the hero and virtuous ways. Similarly, evil and its painful after-effects are meant to awaken in us love for goodness and God.”
Although, I wouldn’t necessarily call my situation “evil,” it is definitely a challenging situation that has caused me, and others, great pain. Seen in the light of Yogananda’s words, I understood that this suffering could be encountered from a higher perspective; the suffering was awakening a love for goodness and God in all of us who were involved. Understood in this way, I was able to face this situation with greater courage. Not knowing what the physical outcome of the situation would be, I knew that on an emotional and spiritual level the outcome would be an awakening of greater love. If it meant going through the suffering to get to this greater love, then the journey was worth it.
With gratitude in my heart, in the midst of my suffering, I can say I experienced grace today… Though far from over, my situation which could have gone any which way, appears to be heading in a positive direction. My heart has received a huge birthday gift; a gift of courage, grace, and ever increasing love…May I share it with you in the midst of any suffering you too may be experiencing…
Grace, peace, and love to you,
THANKSGIVING – “Giving Thanks”
On this day, I just want to say thank you to all of you who are reading this right now. I truly appreciate you.
In the words of Nagarjuna:
I’ll tell you briefly the fine qualities
Of those on the path of compassion:
Giving, and ethics, patience, and effort,
Concentrating, wisdom, compassion and such.
Giving is giving away what you have,
And ethics is doing good to others.
Patience is giving up feelings of anger,
And effort is joy that increases all good.
Concentration’s one-pointed, free of bad thoughts,
And wisdom decides what truth really is.
Compassion’s a kind of high intelligence
Mixed deep with a love for all living kind.
Giving brings wealth, a good world comes from ethics;
Patience brings beauty, eminence comes from effort.
Concentration brings peace, and from wisdom comes freedom;
Compassion achieves everything we all wish for.
Peace…Live with Love,
Recently, I went to Uganda to meet Irene, a girl who I had been keeping in touch with over the years. Her family lives in a rural area, a four to five hour drive from Entebbe.
I flew into Entebbe but had to get to Kampala to meet the people who would be driving me to see Irene and her family. Joe and his friend drove me to Kampala. On the way to Kampala, our car was pulled over by the police. (The police in Uganda carry their rifles strapped over their shoulders which felt slightly intimidating to me.) The police were looking for a way to fine us, perhaps for a missing light on the car or for overdue registration. The driver and Joe left the car and spoke to the police in a small brick holding area as I waited in the car. Being on a semi-deserted side road, I had no idea what was going on. It seemed like an hour had passed by as I waited, but I'm sure it was probably more like 20 minutes. I am still not exactly sure what happened and why we were pulled over, but I was relieved we were let go.
After driving hours from Kampala, we reached the bottom of a mountain without paved roads. We had to drive for another hour to reach Irene’s home. As we drove up the bumpy mountain road, I watched children and adults walk up and down the hillside to collect drinking water. Once they collected the water, they had to carry their heavy jugs all the way back home. I wondered how the children could find time to walk miles up and down mountainous roads to get to school when they were so busy collecting water.
I do not suggest traveling to Uganda right now as it is politically unstable and the people are recovering from a long and harsh drought. People are starving and dying from lack of food. Those in power are receiving most of the aid. I am concerned for people like Irene and her neighbors who are outside the city and so far from receiving assistance. There are children in these rural areas trying to survive on their own without having parents. Many of these children have lost their parents to AIDS.
There is so much help and assistance that is needed. Please open your heart to the rest of the world. Whether it is Uganda or another part of the world, please remember that we are all part of one big human family.
The smiles on the faces of Ugandan children are heartwarming. Their smiles are reminders of how there is hope and love in circumstances beyond our imagination…Here is a video of something we share universally as humans…a love of sports! Notice the Ugandan boy handling the soccer ball with bare feet!!
I met Joe through serendipitous circumstances. I mentioned my plans to travel to Uganda to a teacher I really liked. She told me about her friend, Joe, who lived in Uganda who was an amazing young gentleman. He had once been a sponsored child and now was trying to give back by helping other young people in Uganda find ways to financially sustain themselves. When I contacted Joe, he happened to be working in the city closest to the rural village where I was traveling to see Irene. He told me he would meet me at the airport in Entebbe and drive me to Kampala. What a relief! In my emails back and forth to Joe I was able to hear the passion he had for the people of Uganda.
Joseph was sponsored by a non-profit organization to help children from poor families in Uganda to receive a quality education. Now in his early twenties and no longer a sponsored child, Joseph desire is to give back to his community. He was elected chairperson of the youth in Masindi town parish. His intention is to help the youth of Uganda build a sustainable financial future for themselves and their community. Joseph has started beehive projects to produce quality honey in Uganda. He also has the dream of starting a technical service company to help get jobs for young technicians and to build industrial skills for vocation students in Uganda.