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The Awakening

Fantasy Wallpaper For Art Of Love Backdrop-HD-WallpaperThere’s a whisper in the wind tonight

A hint of something strange brewing.

The thrumming in my blood

Tells me that things will never be the same.

I feel as if a door is opening inside me,

And it cannot be closed up again.

Could this finally be the moment

That I’ve always known would come,

When the barriers between our

Worlds come tumbling down?

I can see you now, through the veils

Of time and of immeasurable distance.

My heart cries out to yours and yours to mine.

Our love will shatter stars and galaxies,

And shake the very cosmos to its core,

And you and I will be as one forevermore.

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He Feels Their Pain

Hunter "Patch" Adams at a medical co...

Hunter "Patch" Adams, May 15, 1998

Before I began to write about compassion, I went to dictionary.com, which describes it as: “A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another, who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”

British poet James Kirkup said, “…with proper grace. Informing a correct compassion, that performs its love, and makes it live.” Wow, I have just reread the last eight words several times, and I am awed by their beauty.

I was struck, too, by the realization that compassion is not a wimpy little feeling. It does not merely look and pity and pass on. It enters into the feelings of the sufferer and inspires the compassionate one actually to do something to make things better. Compassion has elements of sympathy and love and strength, but it also has muscle, for want of a better word.

Patch Adams’s inspiring story is a perfect example of compassion, or love, in action. I was very distressed to hear that Universal Studios had failed to keep their promise to build the hospital, and that Patch Adams received no money from the film. From a 1999 New York Times article I learned that: “Patch Adams” the Robin Williams comedy about an unconventional doctor, was released last Christmas Day and went on to earn $135 Million at the domestic box office and $200 Million worldwide.

Rather than becoming embittered and withdrawing from the fray, Patch Adams just keeps on being Patch Adams and doing what he does best, helping people to heal from the inside out. I like the TV show “House” and watch Gregory House with a sort of horrified fascination. Most of his patients make it, true, but he is no Patch Adams. He frequently wreaks serious injury on his patients in his attempts to cure them. Since House is what I think would be classified as a functioning sociopath, if it’s all the same to you I’ll take Patch Adams’s brand of healing.

Doctors should be teaching us how to be healthy, and to notice when our bodies are out of tune, so that we can stay healthy. Nowadays we only see our doctors when we’re ill, when we’re out of tune with our natural rhythms. Do you think it’s a coincidence that doctors are said to practice medicine? I want a doctor who knows what he’s doing!

Patch Adams has inspired me to take a new look at compassion and he needs my help, and yours, to carry on his work. I pledge to do my part.

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The Exercise Class

Mack Sennett's Bathing Beauties (There was no time for a group shot of our class!)

One of the nice things about the apartments where I live is the regular exercise classes held in our Fitness Center on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. It is led by a certified fitness instructor named Dana, and I look forward to our time together more than she can know.

I moved into my new home in late January two years ago. By March I overcame my shyness, put on my exercise clothes and presented myself. Everyone was very welcoming, and Dana suggested that since I had never done weight training, 3-pounders would be a good place to start. I’m now up to 5-pound weights, which I think is my upper limit.

I had also never joined a class before, being something of an exercise lone wolf, and I learned two things right off. The first is that exercising with others is much more fun than going it alone. The second is that it keeps me honest. I’ve only missed classes when I’ve been under the weather or out of town.

Our class consists of all women most of the time. Since the age range runs the gamut from the occasional 20-something to a couple of ladies in their 80’s and one 90-year old, a lot of the exercises focus on strength and balance. Since I began working out on a regular, faithful schedule, I feel more comfortable in my body and am not constantly walking into door frames. I even have modest biceps and can actually get the caps off of jars now, without asking a man to do it for me! But better than all this are the delightful ladies who comprise the class.

First let me introduce Rhoda, who was always dashing in a minute or two late. It was Rhoda who first befriended me, and who introduced me to some of my dearest new friends. Sadly for us, she moved to Texas last year, to be near two of her daughters, but she visits us. In fact she was here last month. Rhoda is a real character, with a great sense of humor. She and I competed for class clown and the honors were pretty even. I miss her.

Then there is Mary, who is a serious bridge player on the side. In class she is quiet and neat and can do those danged Yoga-type exercises with her eyes closed and not holding on. It’s the thing I most dislike about her! Virginia keeps us amused with her collection of sweat shirts and T-shirts. I think she’s the most rabid Oregon State Beaver fan in the bunch, although there is serious competition. Our friend Shirley is away for a while, attending her son, the new Mayor’s, inauguration in his Indiana town. We’re all as proud as if he were ours, and she can’t stop beaming.

Helen is a tiny, white-haired pixie, and her smile and laugh are quite contagious. You want to tell her a joke to hear her laugh. Helmi, on the other hand, is taller and silver-haired, with a charming German accent that many years in this country have not eradicated.

Then we have our world travelers, Carolyn and Betsy. Carolyn and her husband have family in Germany whom they visit, and Carolyn steps in for a friend in upper New York State who runs a bed and breakfast. If it were not for her, they’d never get away. We never know when Betsy will be off again. Most recently, I believe she went to Russia, or no, there was that trip to Cabo. Betsy is the most senior and most globe-trotting of our number, and we’re all in awe of her.

About Dana I can’t say enough. She is unfailingly patient and kind. She has designed a program that works for all of us, and I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without her help. She’s on vacation next week, and she’s earned it, but we’ll all be glad to have her back!

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A Review of “In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving”

Cover of "In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Pow...

Cover via Amazon

Last year I saw the film, “The Blind Side”, which told the story of Baltimore Raven Michael Oher’s journey from homelessness to triumph. Oher is the adoptive son of Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, also parents of daughter, Collins, and son Sean, Jr. I enjoyed the movie tremendously, and was curious to know how much was real and how much was Hollywood. I’m a sucker for this type of story, and admit to being in tears on and off through the whole film. I came out of the theater feeling happy and in charity with my fellow humans. Still I wondered.

Last Sunday I was surfing the internet for new books for my library reserve list, when I discovered that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy had co-authored, with Sally Jenkins, a book entitled, “In a Heartbeat: Sharing The Power of Cheerful Giving”. My library had a copy available, and I made it with 15 minutes to spare. I began reading right away, and by the time I fell asleep I was already halfway through. I finished it before lunch the next day. I believe I ate something while I read, but I couldn’t tell you what, I was so engrossed.

Biographies are not usually page-turners, but I didn’t so much read this book as inhale it. In a time when being a Christian seems to have very little to do with Christ, I encountered in the Tuohys, and in many of the other characters who people its pages, a kind of Christianity I can get behind. As Leigh Anne and Sean are quick to note, they are not perfect, but on every page, who they are speaks loudly and clearly. They are cheerful givers, and they spell out plainly what that is and how each of us is capable of doing something, no matter how small. This philosophy is so much a part of their lives it’s like a kind of breathing for them.

They neither preach nor proselytize. They’re not trying to convince anyone or judge anyone. The Tuohys have their own rags-to-riches story, and although their tale was not so desperate as Michael’s, they know what being poor is. They are quick to say that there are many ways to be a cheerful giver which have nothing to do with money and everything to do with heart.

The Tuohys are very likable people. Perfectly mated and matched, steady Sean and larger-than-life Leigh Ann, they and their three children, Collins, S. J. and Michael Oher, form a solid, united front. They are people I respect, and I feel I know them so well, from the movie and my reading, that I would probably embarrass myself were I ever to meet them. Their description of how Michael came to be their son is low-key, humorous and loving. They present it as more of an inevitability, than as a remarkable act of love.

“The Blind Side,” the book on which it was based, Michael Oher’s book and now the Tuohys’, are focusing enormous, positive attention on the subject of adoption and fostering. In 2009 there were some 400,000 children in the system, with another 300,000 projected to join them in 2010. Roughly 100,000 of them will be eligible for adoption. Unless they find families or care, statistics show that 70% will end up homeless or in jail.

They mention one statistic which stands out to me more than anything I have heard in a long time. “if every church in the United States would see to it that just one child is adopted, the problem of homeless children in this country would disappear. If each of us got involved, we could wipe it out overnight.” Clear proof that one person, or one family, can make a difference.

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