Gratitude, Generosity, Peace

There was no better day for making the ask. I was reeling from the news in Syria. Both parts of it. Feeling out of control and off center. And yes, I can persist, and I will with my pacifism… but this is a huge and complicated issue and I have no idea what makes sense when nothing make sense.

But we go back to thinking globally and acting locally. There’s a new family coming. Hoping for a new start. So I can ask their new neighbors… and they’ll fill in. And they have

The responses have been extraordinary. Far more than they’ll need, but they’ll keep it for the migrants who are coming. And they will feel empowered and generous as well.

I give thanks for this community and the work we are so willing to do. It helps me trust in Peace.

Giving Thanks for Peace Received

Looking at empty fields can remind us of how long it is until green begins to sprout — or it can remind us of the bounty the field offered up to nourish and delight us.

It’s our choice — do we choose to see the lack or do we decide to be filled with the memory of goodness?

I don’t know whether it was my mom who said this, but somewhere I found this and it’s become part of my personal mantra… begin as you mean to go on… I’m going to choose thankfulness.

I’ll keep deliberately choosing it until it becomes a habit.

There’s a lot of fear out there, it’s good to strengthen ourselves with all we have. It’s good to give thanks… Nothing prepares us better for generosity than gratitude. Nothing prepares us better for Peace.

If you’re traveling this weekend, please come safely home! I’m grateful for you and treasure your life and love.


Peace from the Little Things

Let’s hear it for the little things. Let’s hear it for those who take the time to make the little things lovely.

And then let us dedicate ourselves to saying thank you. Practicing not just generous tipping but also that looking your server in the eye and saying thanks, this little gift changes my life.

When people do things that make you stop and notice, stop and notice. Be appreciative.

The more appreciative you are (not smarmy, just appreciative!) the more generous and painstaking people will be with the next thing they do.

I believe that Gratitude and Generosity beget each other, beget Peace.


Breakfast Peace

I know it’s the Fourth of July, and I’m supposed to write about the Fourth and the country and… and maybe tomorrow.

Today I wanted to write about my breakfast on Saturday.

I love going out for breakfast. It’s fun to do with friends and family. And it’s wonderful to do by myself. Just me and a book or a newspaper and whatever looks good. Ahhh. (Shhhh!)

I’m happy to be cheerful to the waitress and I’m happy not to talk to anyone. I normally don’t talk to anyone early in the morning.

But there I was, out and about, book on the table. The waitress came over at the “give the client the bill” time, and said, I wanted to let you know your breakfast has been paid for. (See the musing!) I was stunned. Did I know them? No. Are they still here? No. I reminded the woman of her sister who did the same thing.

Amazing. It happens more often than you think, the waitress says. Really? Yes. Really, fairly often.

It was the sweetest thing. I hope her sister knew how much she was loved. I hope the sister loved the donor for her easy generosity. And Dammit, it made me miss Deb…

But I think that both the woman who paid for my breakfast and I were both lucky to have wonderful sisters… I wish she’d stopped to tell me… so i could have reminded her how much her sister loved her.

So much Peace in this world. And so many people who just reach out their hands in love. I am so touched… Such a lovely surprise. And the waitress was so happy to be able to tell me… So she got to do good as well and share in the loveliness.


Present for Peace

If Peace is going to happen, we’re going to have to show up. We’ll have to show up eagerly, hopefully, purposefully. We’ll have to be there with our whole heart.

The time for holding back is gone. It’s time for generosity.

Every day we need to be showing up and doing our best for Peace. She goes nowhere without us.

This goofy happy dog made me realize, yep. Dogs. They show up for the pack. Here I am, I love you! We could learn a lot from dogs about showing up.

And because we’re humans, we can be deliberate about enlarging the pack we run with.

Peace wants us. Let’s show up.


Fields and Peace

Fields have a job to do and they’re pretty good at it. They grow things. Left to themselves they’ll grow whatever is right for the climate. Cultivated and coaxed, they’ll grow all sorts of wonderful and outlandish things. They are generous beyond what seems possible or even sensible.

Peace is like that too. When you sow seeds of Peace you have no idea how great the harvest might be. You just keep watering it with Love and tend and harvest what appears. And then you share it with the world.

We’d do well to learn about Peace from fields.


Give Your Heart to Peace

And any of the rest of your organs. A friend of mine drove around for years with a bumper sticker that said, Leave your Heart on Earth, Heaven Doesn’t Need It. Be an Organ Donor. And i think she was. Bless that great big heart of hers. I hope if someone got it they learned to love like she did.

It’s a sad and awful and wonderful duty when a loved one dies to really release them. And you have to accept the awful reality to allow new reality to happen.

I watched my dear friend, who was in the process of dying from cancer, reel with the sudden accident that took her husband and then sit through the hours it took to release his body for donation. It was so hard and she was so brave. It was such an important lesson. Bless her loving heart and her stubborn right-doing mind.

So determine to make Peace and put your whole heart into it. However that happens. and consider Peace-giving organ donation.


Expanding Peace, llvl

It would seem to me that the expansion of Peace is both our work and an incredible gift. Peace becomes more precious as it is spread. It’s not meant for hoarding, not meant for a chosen few. It’s supposed to be slathered on the unevenness of life with a lavish hand.

Is the world more parsimonious, more acrimonious right now? Are we more fear based than other times? It certainly feels that way.

It’s not that we disagree with one another but that we hate each other for daring, daring, daring to think differently. And some people we hate simply for existing.

I’m not advocating singing “let’s all look on the bright side of life” (oh, thank you, Monty Python) and ignoring the plight of too much of humanity. Rather, I’m suggesting that we open our hearts and minds (and, yes, our purse strings, too!) to a world in need of balance.

I’m asking us to think about what we can do, each and every one of us, to respond to life’s bounty with generosity. Things are hard. That is why we must be generous and we must call one one another to lighten and loosen up a bit. “Try to see it my way.” Just for a bit.

Yes, life is changing. Digging in our heels and pretending that it isn’t has never been a very good response to change. And it’s getting ugly. And there’s no reason for that. We can go to the gym all we want, but unless we’re practicing generosity, our hearts will still be stunted and stuttering.

Let all our looking to see what is wrong be a prelude to our deciding what we must do. Peace. Let’s spread it around.




Community Peace, llvl

We hear, we say, it takes a village. And it seems this is true. But what’s also true is that, with hard work and clear statement of the problem, there is a village. Community forms around causes. Communities are generous and like doing good.

Yesterday, sitting in the studio at WKOK, talking about the need for weekend backpack programs and my faith community’s decision to raise money for them. I was doing the ask. I asked for people to donate. And they did. I asked for people to provide a matching grant. And someone did. At the end of the day yesterday, $1,695 was in the bank. Since November 2013, with our push just starting, we’ve raised $15,000 (until yesterday, most of that came from within the congregation) If you figure it will take at least $250,000 to feed the elementary schools we’re 6 percent there. We may need to get to 20 percent before we get to writing a grant… and of course, and sadly, this isn’t a one time deal… this is an ongoing need.

What was clear at the end of the one-hour program was that people were willing to step up and support their village. You just have to ask. And when you do people respond. Do we need more people? Why, yes, we do. Do we believe that more people will participate? Why, yes, we do…

Am I overwhelmed, grateful, excited, bouncing off the moon? Why, yes, I am. Stepping up and working together is how we will make Peace in this place and make this a Valley Where No Child is Hungry. And that is a confirmation of what I’ve always believed. People want to help. You just have to show them how. And when you do, they break your heart open in joy. Oh, Hallelujah! If you want to donate, go to Love Flows: The LOVE Project (Let Our Valley Eat) and make a donation… or if you’d like to be a matching angel… write to me (find me at contact us). And in the meantime, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Let’s go! Kids need your help. You are the best!



Love Flows to Staten Island

Dear Friends, I know, twice in one day!

The local UU congregation in the Susquehanna Valley, where I’m minister, got involved in Superstorm Sandy relief not only because it is right to be generous in the face of need but also because many of us in this River Valley had only last year experienced the trauma and destruction of floods. We were so lucky that when we reached out, we found a congregation on Staten Island who was acting as a distribution center for the relief and recovery efforts. We’ve grown a great partnership and we’re very proud and grateful to have been able to have been of some help. We’ve now created a new way that with a little bit of generosity and a wee bit of effort gathering your friends and family to help that we can make a big difference in a both a joyful afternoon for some and a big gift that will benefit many. Here’s what’s on our UUCSV website and here are the instructions for chipping in to be a small but integral part of a sweet and refreshing gift of love.

Since Superstorm Sandy the UUCSV and our friends in the Susquehanna Valley have been sending cash cards to the people of Staten Island which are being disseminated through the UU Church of Staten Island. The Rev. Susan Karlson has been our contact point. What has been great is that we’ve been able to send not only every dollar that was given, but also leverage those dollars and send more than was collected by donating the fundraising profit we get from selling gift cards. It’s been a great boon and the money you’re donating is going right into the hands of people trying to rebuild their lives. We chose this action because people in this Valley know what it means to inundated by floodwaters. People’s generosity has been amazing. We are grateful and proud. Over $9,000 has gone from our hearts to theirs.

We’ve been planning a work day. (May 25, 2013) As Susan and Ann talked about the difficulties of finding work for non trained people at this point, we decided that what would be wonderful would be to take them a garden party. Musicians have donated their time, we’ll be soliciting food from stores and restaurants. But we also thought it would be wonderful to gather a large sum of money as a gift. We need to pay for the bus. But other than that, we could turn your gifts into cards for individuals, or they could find a project that needed a lump sum infusion. The idea of gathering $10 from 1,500 people all over our River Valley and Beyond was born. Do you have $10 to share with the People of Staten Island? Will you ask your friends if they do? You can help make a huge difference in the lives of fellow flood victims. We can give, because we’re generous and because we’ve been there. Love flows: from the rivers to the ocean, and from our hearts to yours. Please give that Love some momentum and donate to our Sandy Relief project today. Here’s what to do. (although stuffing a $10 in my pocket — or better yet a bunch of them works just as well!)

In gratitude for your generosity and thoughtfulness… Ann