…Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, still I’ll rise…out of the huts of history’s shame I rise, up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise. I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear, I rise. Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear, I rise. Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise. – Maya Angelou
More beautiful than a puzzle that takes shape based on reference to an image on a box is how we can reflect on the moments in our lives that are fitting together to fulfill what calls to our souls this way.
I didn’t know when as a child who strived to keep her voice quiet that I was learning how to listen for the voices that don’t feel worthy of being heard. I didn’t know that my best friend in my silence was also cloaked in fur of unconditional acceptance and hope.
I knew a deep footprint had been pressed into my belief system when near thirty years ago a friend said to me: Christine, everything that happens – good, as well as tragic – is planned. If you make a positive change in your life because of this accident you have heard about – perhaps you drive slower when the roads are icy or you express love more frequently – you will give purpose to why this accident happened. You will make it matter that it did.
I knew it was from the depths of my heart that I wrote the following when completing my MA: “My perception is the world needs hope. The world needs faith that purpose exists in all things. I want to live in that “place where deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet”, where my joy at helping people not give up meets with the world’s need for hope (Palmer, 2007, The Courage to Teach).
When I began writing the manuscript for my second book, Hope Has a Cold Nose, I knew it was bringing together these moments, interweaving them with other moments from my life, that I might inspire dignity, hope, and healing. What I didn’t know on the journey of creating Hope Has a Cold Nose, the world would reach a point where, in fact, it has become starved for hope. Nor that I would be led to amazing organizations who embody making it matter that it did, dignity, hope, and healing.
One such organization is The Big Fix Uganda. I am honored to be one of their champions. I have been given a privilege to not only support their mission through my writing. In some small way – though I hope it will cast large ripples into our broken world – I am being given the sacred honor of being a voice for those who have struggled to have their voices heard.
I have a personal belief that we enter this lifetime not only to fulfill what our soul wishes to learn. We also enter this lifetime to break cycles of pain, trauma, sorrow, and despair that have come before us, that what comes after us may be for the better to keep humanity moving forward and flourishing. We are not sheltered from pain, tragedy, or profound grief. It is part of life’s circle. Yet, we give meaning to that which we cannot always understand “why”, by how we choose the opposite of pain, trauma, sorrow, or despair in how we live.
To know the true depths of perseverance, we must experience reasons to choose the will to not give up. To know the true depths of faith, we must know what it is to stand fearfully in uncertainty. To embrace unconditional love, we must have an appreciation for what it has felt like to feel unworthy. To be able to look and then listen with compassion to stories that seep into our core of what if that were me?, we must bravely be able to look our own pain and griefs in the eye and let them go. Forgiveness of the tragedies of life beget an openness to the goodness that life is.
I have not had the privilege of listening to the gentleman’s story in the picture above left. If I did, perhaps it would go something like this:
Tears I have cried in silence no one else could see, for those whose shoulder I would lean on are no longer on Earth with me. I am the only one that remains of my siblings, though I sometimes think they the luckier that they no longer breathe. They no longer must live with loneliness and the memories. I had thought of joining them a time or two. But then I found Ma Haru. His name means “superhero”, a warrior spirit strong and brave. We have something common he and I, each other we have saved.
Dad, when I close my eyes as I lay by your side, do you know what I dream? I dream of the moment you came walking up to me. I knew when your eyes looked into mine, I had found someone to love. I could see in your eyes that you were alone. I think I could recognize that look, for it matched what I felt in my heart. But, hey, dad, neither of us have to feel that anymore, now do we?! I’ve got you, and you have me. Dad, one more thing – my fur welcomes the tears that slide down your cheeks.
A.D. Williams writes when I look into the eyes of an animal, I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I am passionate about the holistic healing capabilities of dogs. They are not only our hope with cold noses. They teach us how to unconditionally feel a soul, that we might collectively heal the world.