Hard wired to love

Right now the snow is falling in thick, lazy flakes outside my window. All is hushed. That’s what snow does. Quiets a restless world. Invites us to a deeper peace when the distractions of this time of year or our personal lives pull us elsewhere.

Snow gives us permission to catch our breath, do nothing. Nap. Write. Read.

Now I sit with the dog and the companionship of a friend. I am in wonder at this snowfall, even though I have seen many. And in awe how this world unfolds in its own natural timing and beauty if we allow it.

Yet, it seems anything but this. Read or see the news, travel the threads on Facebook and we discover a world in turmoil.

While this snow descends peacefully, in other parts of the globe — and in this country — we find political strife, women being abused, the potential for a nuclear war and countless refugees fleeing their homelands to find security, survival and hope.

Has it always been this way? Will it always be?

We were given a great gift as humans — free will — and I often ask myself: When we will use this gift to create peace? Lasting peace. True love of each other so that we will live on the planet as was intended. An earth ripe with blessings, that provides all that we need if we only consent to partnership with each other to do what is right and good.

And yet. I have hope.

The other day, I was at the grocery store and bought about five items. No express lane in this store. The woman ahead of me also had a few purchases in her cart. But the woman in front of us had enough groceries in her cart to last a month.

She looked at the African-American woman ahead of me, then at me.

“Why don’t you both go ahead?”

“Really?” I asked. “Thank you,” we both said in unison.

When I got back home, a package was waiting for me from a family friend. She had said to be on the look out for it and I had no idea what it might be. A book on caregiving arrived and I was extremely touched by her act of thoughtfulness. She took time out of her day, to buy it, mail it.

On Facebook, more videos are being posted of the extreme good being done in the world. The woman who was so moved by the homeless man who gave her his last $20 after she ran out of gas that she started a fundraiser for him, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars. He is taking that money in turn and helping others.

Or the man who ordered online items — socks, coats, food — for the homeless. He had the products delivered to those in need right there, on the streets.

Small gestures? Perhaps. But how can we ever measure how this good ripples out and multiplies in myriad ways we may never see or understand?

Yes, we hear much today about divisiveness and hatred in our world. But that’s not who we are. I believe we are hard wired to be kind and loving. In other words, it’s in our DNA to be good.

God, or the Divine or whatever name you wish to give the great source of love, is in our genes.

When we don’t allow that good to express, we short circuit. Humanity goes awry and we lose our way home. To each other. To love.

The late author and spiritual teacher Henri Nouwen encourages us that “we become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life… all our life.”

As the snow falls, I am reminded that each snowflake is unique in design. And beautiful. So are we. We each have a special gift to give the world.

In most instances, that gift will not be grandiose, but a small, simple offering of our presence to one another in our daily lives — with a smile, a kind word.

When we share those gifts, we are like the gentle snowfall outside, quieting our world into peace. We become beautiful. We become what we are hard wired to be. Love.



There’s nothing to be afraid of

My mother grew up in the hills of Tennessee where she recalls an elderly gentleman who used to spin yarns. He’d tell his tale and then, in his folksy Southern accent, say, “You can believe it or leave it alone.” That’s how I feel about the blog post I’m about to share. You can believe it or leave it alone. 

I share this story in the hope that you, too, may find peace in whatever life brings this year. There is nothing to be afraid of.


I tend to worry. Believe me, I’ve prayed endless prayers to trust more in God, to be healed of the anxiety that often grabs at my gut and stares me down with its unsettling eyes.

I can tell you all the reasons I get anxious, but that knowledge doesn’t help when I’m in the midst of some health-care challenge involving dad or mom, or someone I love, or some concern about my own health. I can tick off the numerous causes that prompt my “inner child” to become so fearful.

None of those reasons matter. Because in the end, the fear — and let’s call it what it is — is about me wanting to be in control and not having faith in a Higher Power. 

Thankfully, I’m not always anxious. Sometimes, grace will enfold me and I’ll be more at peace. Being human, however, I can be pulled away from trust in a nanosecond and find myself face down in the ugly muck of fear.

But the last two weeks, something happened.

A friend recently died. I’ve been praying for her spirit because that’s what I do. I pray not only for many loved ones still here, but also those in that space you can call “heaven” or “the other side” or whatever name you want to give it.

Ultimately, we are one energy. And whatever dimension or space our spirits inhabit when they leave our bodies, I believe we are always connected and in need of prayerful love and attention. So, I had been praying for my friend.

The week before Christmas I put out my decorations, including a small stuffed bear in a Santa outfit. When you press on its left paw — and you must press very hard (envision a dog’s squeaky toy and that’s how hard you must press) — the bear plays in tinkling chimes “Jingle Bells — dashing through the snow.”

Two days before Christmas I had been out shopping in a soft, falling snow. I had entered my place and sat my bags on the floor by the chair where the bear rests. And then it happened. The bear began to play.

How could that be? I hadn’t touched it. I stood there, baffled, listening. The music stopped for a few seconds, then it started again.

What was happening? I’d had the bear for 10 years and not ONCE had it done this. Ever.

I let it go, attributing it to some fluke, but a whisper of something else nagged at my soul. Could it be my friend letting me know she was OK?

I woke up on New Year’s Eve morning and walked into the kitchen to make coffee. When I turned on the light, half the power went out in my place. I’ve lived here for some time and that had never happened. I called our maintenance man and he was baffled. None of the switches on the fuse box were tripped and nothing was amiss. He tripped the master switch anyway and the power came back on.

Again, I dismissed it. But that pull to listen returned. I kept feeling a message wanted to be heard. But what?

Yesterday morning, I was getting dressed and next to the stuffed bear.  It hadn’t played a tune since that last mysterious occurrence. But once again, the bear began to play.

As before, the music stopped for a few seconds. Then it started again and wouldn’t stop until I finally said out loud, “I know you’re here. You can stop now.” And the music immediately stopped.

In my heart, I felt something wanted to be conveyed. But I had no idea what that might be. I prayed and asked that if my friend — or another angelic being — was trying to tell me something, that I might be open to hearing it. Nothing came.

I don’t watch much television. Hate commercials and usually turn them off. But last night, I caught one advertisement for TurboTax. A strange pull came over to me that I was meant to see this. What? A tax commercial?

The TV ad showed  a toy bear, about the size of my own stuffed bear without the Santa outfit, toddling a step at a time toward a frightened woman. This lady peeked out from behind a closet, terrified, believing something terrible was waiting for her.

And then, as the bear giggled and danced toward her, the words read:


I sat there in awe.

I shared all this with a friend who pooh-poohed it, attributing it to natural causes. You might, too, and that’s OK. As I said in the beginning, you can take this tale or leave it alone.

But for me, it was a clear and direct message from God that my prayers have been heard, that the Divine does want me and all of us to be healed of worry and fear.

I know experiences will come this year when I will be tested, when fear will shove me back into old patterns. Will I truly have learned to “let go and let God?”

I don’t know. But when challenges come, I will hold on to these words: “There is nothing to be afraid of.”

I will allow myself to breathe into the fear, knowing the Divine spirit of Love has got my back. And I will learn to trust. A step at a time, toddling toward faith.