Monday, August 3, 2020

Mother Father ME

In the movie version of Godspell, Stephen Schwartz added the song, “Beautiful City.” In subsequent stage productions, the song, with re-written lyrics, has been placed in various spots in the second act. One version had the character of Jesus singing it during the Last Supper telling his disciples and the world to have hope and faith, and to carry the message of love, peace and personal responsibility to all.  It begins:
Out of the ruins and rubble,
Out of the smoke,
Out of our night of struggle
Can we see a ray of hope,
One pale thin ray reaching for the day?
So many of us are feeling that way witnessing these conditions of injustice, misogyny, hate, disrespect, disease, unemployment and fear. So we have to ask ourselves:
Out of the ruins and rubble,
Out of the smoke,
Out of our night of struggle
Can we see a ray of hope,
One pale thin ray reaching for the day?
How do you answer that question?

I read a post by "Clark A" on He described how this song inspired him and some friends:
We were a Combat Support Hospital unit ... car[ing] for the wounded soldiers and Marines … from [t]he Syrian border in the west to the Iranian border [in the] east...
     I lived in a dorm-like building on the hospital campus and had become friends with a few soldiers from the other unit who liked to go up to the roof  ... and hang out a few evenings a week ... to chill out a bit ...  The rule was that everyone brought a few tunes to contribute, things we really enjoyed … The more obscure the better.  Our perch had a great view of southeastern Baghdad, which is actually a very pretty part of town (if you can look past the destruction), overlooking the helicopter landing pad to the west and the Tigris River to the east. … We took mortar and rocket fire out of there daily, often at night ... providing us with spectacular fireworks displays and a bit of excitement once in a while. was a gorgeous mid-May evening, about 80 degrees and balmy, with a warm, gentle breeze out of the west and a million stars above us...  It was my turn to DJ, and I had just downloaded a long-missed treasure off the internet that I was eager to share with the crew.  We topped off our drinks, sat back to watch a helicopter full of wounded soldiers departing for Germany ... [as] a flaming orange sun settle[d] into the horizon … the sky turn[ing] a million shades of purple and blue.  It had been busy that day patient-wise, and we were all a little frayed around the edges and needing some mental healing.
     I queued up "Beautiful City" for them...
     War does funny things to people immersed in it.  Sometimes it makes you bitter or cynical or angry.  Sometimes things that would normally make you smile, don't.  Things that you'd never worry about fill you with blinding rage.  Suffering that would make a statue cry don't phase you.  And sometimes, a sweet, silly song from a 30 year old musical makes you smile. 
     I'm sure … none of you imagined that four scared and homesick soldiers caught up in the madness of a war in the desert would ever listen to it and feel better, if only for a few minutes, but it happened.  We all saw the city we were in, an ancient and yet modern city struggling to rebuild itself after the onslaught of the American war machine and decades of abuse and terror under Saddam Hussein, in a different way that evening.  We saw past the crumbled buildings, shell craters, and broken windows... and saw a beautiful city that we'd had all around us for so long but had never noticed before.  The white stucco walls, the orchids and roses and other dazzling flowers that nobody knew the names of, the tree-lined boulevards, the shadowed fronds of the date palms.  It was shocking how a song none of them had ever heard before had lifted a curtain from before their eyes, revealing a side of their existence that had been hidden. 
     After the song ended I sat quietly, waiting for their response. Normally we were a pretty talkative bunch, telling stories that corresponded with our song choices ... but ...we sat silently, each looking into the distance, lost in thought, for a moment or two.  It was a moment I'll never forget, nor will they.  It was interrupted by a rocket that sailed right over our heads and forced us to flee the rooftop, but that was ok too.  We'd gotten our break, and that was all we could ask for.
Out of the ruins and rubble,
Out of the smoke,
Out of our night of struggle
Can we see a ray of hope,
One pale thin ray reaching for the day?
Yes, we can....we must!

It was Parent's Day not too long ago. For all you parents that worked hard with love and patience, time, treasure and talent to support your children; not with just a roof over their heads and nourishing food in their bellies, but with words of wisdom and encouragement, ethics and justice - I send blessings and gratitude! What makes a good parent? The United Nations described parenting on the 2012 Global Parents Day as a “selfless commitment to children and a lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship.”

Today is a good day to communicate with a parent. Tell them you love them, appreciate them; thank them for the good and forgive them for the bad (not to condone the bad, btw). 

For many of us, our best parent now is ourselves...our best selves, our Divine selves. It is with that inward parent that we now have that conversation where we build a beautiful city within us, in our mind and heart, and thus outside of us.

Helpful Self-Parenting Tips from Linda Esposito LCSW writing in Psychology Today:
  • Fall in love with boundaries. Define what is OK and what is not OK. Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did about the misogyny she has faced.
  • Take care of yourself. You are what you eat, think and believe. Stress takes a physical toll, so be mindful of what you put in your body, your heart and your mind.
  • Practice mindfulness to help you stay in the here and now … Work your calm plan and your relaxation routine each and every day. ... Learn to self-soothe. Practice deep breathing, relaxation, positive visualization, and thought awareness .... Your central nervous system will thank you. Yes, my friends, so much comes back to having a full-fledged deep spiritual practice
  • Allow yourself to experience vulnerability, dependency and other emotional states. A common tendency is to reject help from others. While self-reliance may have helped you get through childhood, being overly independent is not a healthy coping skill in adulthood. Humans are wired to connect and isolation and rebuffing others won’t help you recover emotionally.
  • Keep the adult tantrums to a minimum by observing your behaviors and how they influence negative interactions. We all project our crap onto others. It takes reflection and self-awareness to analyze how thoughts, feelings and unresolved issues play out.
  • Never underestimate the healing powers of a good night's rest, a daytime nap, yoga, lots of water, healthy eats and quality chocolate.
  • Try and see the world as an inherently safe place where most people possess goodwill. This will help you trust in the order and structure of life, and to trust yourself. A most critical adult skill indeed … having faith in your ability to overcome problems means seeing yourself as a capable, active participant in life, worthy of success, happiness and love.
Even if your actual parents probably never taught you how to do this ...

Back to the song:
We may not reach the ending,
But we can start.
Slowly but surely mending,
Brick by brick,
Heart by heart,
Now, maybe now,
We start learning how.
Whether it's parenting yourself, your children, your community or the world; we can build a beautiful city of Divine Love, grace, peace and justice. Throughout its various incarnations, the fundamental theme of "Beautiful City" has remained intact:  all of us as a society has within its power the ability to build a truly "civilized," kind and respectful community. It begins by making a personal choice.
When your trust is all but shattered,
When your faith is all but killed,
You can give up bitter and battered,
You can slowly start to build!

We can build a beautiful city,
Yes, we can ….
Not a city of angels,
...we can finally build a city of man.
...where all living things contribute in integrity, love, peace, respect and kindness

Here's something I've said before, reiterated by Tony Robbins:
Love what is. Whatever life delivers, find a way to love it....even the unlovable...and your life will be magnificent. [You don't have to like and it may well be impossible to like it and seemingly impossible to love it, but do it anyway.]  If you can find grace in your worst experience, then maybe your worst experience has become your best. [A lesson perhaps or a miracle of redemption from which you can draw strength; something that betters your life.]  There's no question we are all going to experience injustice [of some kind and to too many, it might happen too often]. The only question is what will you do with it. Will you become the victim or the victor? The way you become the victor is you overcome it. You don't justify it, you don't support it, but you know, if you have 100% responsibility ...[not for the event, but] ...for what you're going to do with it [then you take that bull by the horns and lead it to where you become victorious].  Everything in our life is a blessing [or a lesson]; even the unconscionable, even the unjust, even the unimaginable. … Put the oxygen mask on yourself ... [continue to live, to create, to express the Divine in you; don't let anyone or anything stop you or slow you down –not the past, your age, your education, your situation of any kind– continue to tell your story through Divine love and tenacity. Vibrate at the speed of the Divine] … so you can truly give back to those [you] love [as well as the country and the planet we all love].
Parent yourself well. Remember to speak these words of Truth to Power, our affirmative incantation for the week:
Free at last, free at last; thank God in me, the almighty Divine Love, I am free at last to embody peace, prosperity, health, love, joy, and happiness.
I do so in the fullness of Spirit and with gratitude in my heart.
I am free to see It my way:  independent, bold, brave, loving, opulent, succulent; full of laughter, grace and unlimited choices.
My life is full of fantastic opportunities.
Here is the beautiful video of "Beautiful City" that I watched to produce this blog:

Peace and blessings to you all!

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