Archives

#1000Speak – Nurturing My Precious Garden

1000 Voices Speak

1382207_10201303430241316_297307354_n

A nurturer by nature

I planted seeds

and watched them grow

I tended them with care

kneeling in the sodden earth

I toiled and tilled and sowed

I sat and watched in wonder

as my garden

slowly came to life

I vowed to shelter

and to nourish it

to be certain it would thrive

And when the tiny buds

began to blossom

I cultivated them with care

I kept the weeds away

I quenched their thirst

and sprinkled them with prayer

My beautiful garden

continued to grow

it became a part of me

And the pieces of my heart

I’d planted

grew from those tiny seeds

Eventually the winds

dispersed their essence

to grow elsewhere on the earth

My precious flowers

found new life

giving joy with their rebirth

Those tiny seeds I planted

have grown so strong

the flowers bloom for all to see

And after all these years

in loving my care

that garden now tends me

Crystal R. Cook

#1000Voices

#1000Speak is talking about bullying this month – Changing the world with words

Last month was, for lack of a better word, inspiring. The outpouring of compassion was simply amazing. 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion is still growing, and this month, we are coming together on March 20th to stand up and speak up about bullying.

If you haven’t yet heard about this beautiful movement that’s been sweeping the internet, check out the 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion Facebook page here and visit the blog here. You can find us on Twitter as well, at #1000Speak. Click the linky button below to read all of last months posts, there are so many blessings to be found here! This link is closed for submissions, but a new one will be open on March 20th for the next round of #1000Speak posts.

You might want to check out, rather, you should, check out what’s going on over at Hastywordswere a lot is being said on the topic of bullying. Click here to read Hasty’s post, Village Heroes.

#1000Voices

Crystal R. Cook

My humble thank you to the #1000Speak bloggers

Right now, in this moment, I am having a hard time finding the right words to express how I am feeling. If you follow my blog, FacebookPinterest, or Twitter pages, you’ve undoubtedly noticed my focus has been concentrated on #1000Speak.

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion.

#1000Voices

Lizzi, who wrote the beautiful blog post that ultimately gave birth to the #1000Speak movement, sent me a Pinterest pin which led me to the still rather new Facebook page for 1000 Voices. I knew right away it was going to be something special, I just had a feeling, a really good feeling. I’m not much of a joiner. At all. For me to willingly become a part of something that includes other people is kind of huge.

At least it used to be. I decided to add my voice as well.

#1000Speak

Even though I kind of knew it was going to be something good, maybe even something great, I had no plans on sticking around for long. I’ve been there, done that and wished I hadn’t. The whole group-social-interacting with others thing is a little difficult for me. I don’t always seem to fit in when in a large grouping of people so I’m always leery about putting myself out there.

Because of this, I worked it all out ahead of time in my mind. I was going to see what it was about, maybe add a post and then slip out the back door. As it turns out, once I stepped my virtual foot into the world of #1000Speak created by Yvonne Spence and Lizzi Rogers (click on their names and find a blessing), I forgot all about the escape plan I’d prepared. Once I looked around, the thought of turning tail and heading back the way I came was nothing more than a distant memory.

I found myself surrounded by blessing after blessing. Like minded hearts on fire for compassion . . . something I wasn’t sure still existed in any meaningful and measurable way. Not only did it exist, it was alive.

And now . . . this is where my words are failing me . . . I am grateful and humbled and blessed and there just aren’t enough words to properly and completely convey the emotions I wish to lay out before me on the page for you to see.

I wish I could thank each and every one of you amazing, beautiful people in some way – everyone whose voices I’ve heard singing since I was welcomed into this village of compassion.

I’ll likely be reading posts for a month and shedding many tears and smiling many smiles as I do.

Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough, but it is all I have to offer. You’ve become a part of my heart I will cherish always. You’ve all reminded me that there is good left in this world . . .

Thank you.

Crystal R. Cook

#1000speak

 Click here to read the amazing #1000Speak posts – I guarantee you will be blessed

#1000Speak part 3 – Be compassion, every day

We enter into this world helpless; hungry, and greedy for attention. Compassion wrapped in the purity of a parent’s love becomes the sustenance with which that hunger is satiated. I believe we are all born with the capacity for compassion, but it’s something that must be nurtured within us if it is to grow.

Maybe this is why it’s called practicing compassion. We aren’t born with the tools we need to become compassionate people, someone has to give them to us and then we need to be taught how to use them. Parents cradle more than new life in their arms when a child enters this world, they are swaddling the future in a blanket of their compassion, and every choice they make has the power to alter that future, for better or for worse.

As parents, we have to speak to the hearts of our children with more than our voices. We have to engage in a dialogue of the heart because if we don’t, the voices of the world will fill in the void of silence we leave. It’s not enough to tell them what compassion is, a dictionary can do that, we need to show them.

Our children see everything we do, hear everything we say. They feel what we feel. They see when we go out of our way to help someone in need, they see when we ignore someone in need as well. They hear the kindness in our words, they also hear the disdain and judgments. They mirror who we are. They become who they will be, in part, because of who they saw us to be.

We need to be compassion, we need to define it so our children know what it is and how to live it.

image

Compassion is something we can practice every single day, it may begin with self compassion, something many of us have a hard time with. We beat ourselves up, we overwork, under sleep, undervalue our personal worth, but if we don’t practice self compassion we render ourselves incapable of becoming a person of outward compassion, what we are really doing by not taking time to nurture who we are, is robbing the world of our light.

We need to let our light shine so there are no longer dark places in our world where hope cannot be seen. We need to shine. We need to be bright and brilliant beacons of hope, of what could be. If your light brightens the path for even one person to find their way out of the shadows, you have changed the world.

image

Compassion is not conditional, it comes from your heart. Compassion is what you do for others without expectation of thanks or reward. Compassion is putting the shoe on the other foot, it is sharing the burden of a heavy load. Compassion is a smile, a prayer, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold. Compassion doesn’t judge, it doesn’t need reason, it doesn’t require monumental effort, it just requires a heart willing to take action.

image

We all have those moments, even the most compassionate and kind among us fall off the proverbial wagon and sink in the muck sometimes. I did not too long ago.

I took my son to get a haircut, it didn’t turn out the way we’d expected it to. In all honesty, it was an awful haircut and I wasn’t happy about it. Instead of being gracious though, I was gruff. I didn’t hide my aggravation and I made a point of letting the stylist know how I felt.

I knew before I was finished having my say I should have kept my mouth shut. I could see her feelings were hurt, but I had been clear in my instructions and felt justified. I could tell by the look in my sons eyes he did not agree. When we left he said, “You were a little hard on her.”

Of course I ranted for a minute about my justification. When we arrived home I’d had time to realize what an asshole I had been. I didn’t just hurt that young girls feelings, I’d set a terrible example for my son. I backed out of the driveway without saying a word and drove right back to the salon. When she saw me, she averted her eyes and hung her head. I never want to be looked at like that again.

I apologized. I smiled and said, “Next time, let’s leave a little more hair on his head.” and her entire demeanor changed. I felt good, she felt good, and my son was witness to something all children should see their parents do. Humbly admit a wrong  and take steps to set things right.

image

Compassion is essential and though it may hurt sometimes, it is what makes us human. It’s what keeps our world from crumbling and our hearts from breaking. Compassion is something we have to practice.

I am talking about real life, every day compassion. The kind you have to have when the waitress is having a bad day. Compassion is realizing the checkout girl with a scowl on her face and what we only see as a bad attitude, may be masking some incredible pain. Compassion is the decision to smile and practice patience and kindness.

It’s about not judging the grumpy mom with the misbehaving kids at the grocery store. It’s about not being annoyed when the elderly woman at the checkout line pulls out a hundred coupons and a checkbook. It’s about smiling at an angry driver or taking the time to give the homeless something to eat or drink and feel happy about for a moment.

And it’s a little bit about having patience with your hair stylist . . .

Crystal R. Cook

#1000Speak part 2 – Compassion is a verb. It has to be a verb.

#1000SpeakI’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks thinking about compassion, dissecting it and attempting to define it in some way. I prayed about it, I researched it, I perused texts written by ancient philosophers pertaining to it, I read passages biblical scholars have written and found blessings in the verses long ago penned to pieces of parchment.

I took notes, jotted down my own thoughts and feelings and complied them to create my own compassion dissertation of sorts. It was good, I daresay it was really, really good.

I deleted it. It wasn’t a purposeful deletion. I’m not ashamed to say I felt a little devastated. Those words were pieces of my heart and I lost them.

I was done.

Ready to throw in the proverbial towel and simply be done. I was angry at myself and ever so slightly defeated.

But then . . .

imageI was lifted up, encouraged, and compelled by the kindness of others to shake it off and start again. I became the grateful recipient of compassion freely and without hesitation offered by strangers who in a strange way have become a family. They come from all walks of life, from countries around the world I will likely never see. Some speak languages I will never speak, and some are so very different from me – and yet – we are the same in more ways than I ever could have imagined.

They exist in a village called 1000 Voices, they exist in my heart. Though miles and miles and thousands more miles may separate us, they are as close as a click of a keyboard away.

That is a beautiful thing.

So with the new-found strength they helped me muster I began again to write of compassion. It’s not the same as it was, not nearly, but they are my words and they come from a place of love and compassion and thankfulness.

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion has touched my soul and I am more than exceedingly thankful for it.

Compassion

The philosophy of compassion is not new. Since the beginning of time compassion has been a thread woven into the fabric of humanity. Biblical scholars wrote of it, ancient philosophers spoke of it, and today, we too, come together to remind every willing ear of its importance.

imageFor an ideal so grand, so important, and so necessary, I have a hard time trying to understand why so many do not seem to embrace it. Are they ignoring the primal instinct I simply have to believe we all possess to be compassionate? Do they simply misunderstand the true meaning of compassion? My fear is some people just don’t care, and I have to say, the thought breaks my heart.

One dictionary defines compassion as a noun, a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

I just don’t think that 23 word blurb even comes close to actually defining compassion.

Thích Nhất Hạnh is quoted as saying, “Compassion is a verb.” I agree.

Compassion without action is just a word, a simple noun like chair or rock. It has to be something more than a lovely concept or lofty ideal we sit around and talk about over coffee.

It’s not enough to have compassion, you have to be compassionate. How often do we see something or someone and think, oh, that’s heartbreaking, and then move on? We may feel compassion, but we don’t always act on it.

True compassion has to be acted on, it has to become tangible, it needs to exceed the definition printed to a page in a dictionary. It must be more than a feeling, more than a desire to act . . . it is the act that impacts.

Being a compassionate person says more about who we are as human beings than it does about those on the imagereceiving end. Compassion does not mean acceptance. The capacity to care about the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of another should not be conditional, measured or rationed based on whether or not we agree with someone’s choices, their beliefs, or their lifestyle.

When you suffer, I suffer too. In attempting to relieve your burdens, I too find a sweet relief. Admittedly, sometimes it’s hard to feel compassion, let alone act on it. When I look at the monstrous acts committed by some, I have a hard time finding compassion for them . . . I have to close my eyes and envision the child they once were.

Sometimes, a prayer is all the compassion I can muster, but in that prayer, I ask the Lord to still my heart and help the one I am unable, perhaps unwilling to help. Christ had compassion for those who nailed him to a cross. He said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” I try to remember his grace as he slipped from earthly life, I try to remember that in the midst of the sorrow of his sacrifice, he showed compassion.

I don’t want to be thought of as a compassionate person, I want to be a compassionate person, but I must admit, there are moments when compassion becomes a choice I must make, moments when it would be so much easier not to be.

imageTo me, this means looking past a persons deeds or circumstances and seeing the helplessness within them, the same helplessness that exists in each of us. I don’t have to subscribe to the same beliefs and ideologies someone may hold to extend a helping hand when they are in need, I simply need to reach out and offer it.

Sometimes, this means I offer a kind word to the unkind, charity to one who may be less than charitable, or help someone who would not go out of their way to help me. It may be naive, but there is a part of me that hopes my compassion for them may stir something within their own hearts, help them see that proverbial light I have been blessed to see.

Compassion is a verb.

It doesn’t end here.

#1000Voices

 

 

#1000Speak – The Village is REAL – part 1

 

10013313_10204620983938085_906885925661484044_n (1)

Over the past couple of weeks compassion has been front and center in my life, in my mind, and on my heart. It’s not something new mind you, I’ve always tried my best to incorporate compassion into every aspect of my life, but since I was blessed with becoming part of the 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion campaign, I’ve been immersed in it.

And I realized a few things.

First – I hadn’t even noticed it, but I was losing faith in humanity. Not completely, but enough to break my heart just a little bit at the realization. I was no longer seeing the good. I used to look for it, I would seek it out when it wasn’t obvious. Somewhere along the line I stopped looking, and as a result, I began to think there was no good left to be found.

Second – I stopped trying to be the good I saw missing. I’m not saying I became a heartless wretch by any means, but I may have let a few opportunities to be the good someone else needed pass by. I was letting my annoyances show and my aggravations alter my actions.

Third – I was retreating. This is something I’ve had to fight throughout my life, the desire, the need to shut down and distance myself. The problem was, I began retreating from the ones I love most. I was moving farther and farther away from myself as well and the distance was making me angry.

But then . . . a wake up call. A message, a reminder. There is good. 

I had a choice to make. I am still thanking God for guiding me in the right direction. I chose to seek the good and the amazing, slightly unexpected, and glorious thing is – I found some. The even more surprising part, at least to me, is I decided to become a part of it all.

I can see the good again. The bad hasn’t gone away, it likely never will, but as long as I can see the good, as long as I know I am part of that good, I can breathe.

They say actions speak louder than words, but words, to me, are action as well. The #1000Speak initiative is proof of that. It started with words born from a need, a desire for change. A plea for help, a call to action. It began with words on a page and it sparked something magical. This is where it began . . . we-all-need-the-village, written by Lizzi and shared with the world on her blog, Considerings.

When another beautiful blogger, Yvonne, read her words, she took them to heart and made a suggestion – What if we all joined our voices and created the village? She did more than just share an idea, she decided to build the village and people began moving in. I’m sure she may have thought the notion of getting 1000 bloggers to come together on one day, today, February 20, 2015, might be a bit of a challenge, but it wasn’t. They came quickly and happily and soon exceeded 1000.

It is a beautiful village and I am honored to walk its virtual streets, paved with good intentions and love.

Over the past couple of weeks, words of compassion have been pouring from the hearts of everyone involved, sharing without hesitation or reservation the deepest, truest, and most beautiful parts of themselves. It is awe-inspiring.

This virtual village is real and while the words and images shared by those who reside there are characters on a screen, their message has become tangible and found its way into the real world. I know this because I exist in this real world and if the words splashed across my screen can bring about a change in me and renew my spirit, I know it is doing the same for others. When our spirits are awakened and challenged it leads to action and action changes everything.

The next couple of posts here at The Qwiet Muse will be my contributions to 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion. Click the little blue linky button below to view or share your own links and join the chorus of compassion.


#1000Voices