There is no better friend than a friend who offers gentle wisdom in our time of need.
Let’s face facts. Life is difficult. With its ups and downs. Its challenges. Its struggles. We yearn for wisdom to see the light. For hope. For courage to keep moving forward.
There are no guarantees for success no matter how positive we think. There are intangibles – things beyond our control – that determine our successes or failures.
And we wonder if we are making a difference. We question our existence. We see everything so futile.
Here’s a partial list of help from a few of my “friends.” They have helped me in my time of need. They have offered me values, beliefs, wisdom that I have yearned for. I refer to them on a regular basis.
We all need help. There is no shame in asking for it. After all, even a broken leg needs a crutch.
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Let’s start with books.
“The Gift of Giving” and “The Path with Heart” by Michael Lymberg – 2 simple books (about 150 pages each). The books contain wisdom from the ages. Sadly, the books may be out of print.
“The Road Less Traveled” by Dr. M. Scott Peck – a book connecting mental health with spirituality.
“Love” and “Personhood” by Dr. Leo F. Buscaglia. His book “Love” describes what love is and isn’t. “Personhood” helps one become a better person.
My favourite quote is from “Love”: “Man has no choice but to love. For when he does not, he finds his alternatives lie in loneliness, destruction and despair.”
“The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis. Following Christ is a discipline. This book teaches us how. Easy to read.
“The Spirituality of Gentleness” by Judith C. Lechman teaches the principles of being a devout Christian in 16 chapters.
Any book by Rabbi Harold Kushner. He has a true understanding of the human condition.
“The Lessons of St. Francis” by John Michael Talbot with Steve Rabey. We learn to live a simple but productive life from a book about the life and values from the man who authored the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon, etc.”
“A Testament of Hope – The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.” His approach to solving the injustices using non violence is needed more than ever.
“Lights from Many Lamps” edited by Lillian Eichler Watson. It contains many inspirational pages and quotes and the stories behind those passages.
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And, then, there are the essays, poems and quotes that have helped me.
“Self Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson teaches us how to be a genuine person.
“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.”
The poem “The Dilemma” teaches us that we have no choice but to risk. I used it in a former essay crediting it from an Ann Landers column saying the author was anonymous. But after printing it, one of my readers said there is a name who authored it. Unfortunately, I deleted the letter.
“To laugh is to risk appearing a fool
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental
To reach out for another is to risk involvement
To expose feelings is to risk rejection
To place your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or love. Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave. He has forfeited his freedom. Only a person who takes a risk is free.”
The poem “If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking” by Emily Dickinson. Am I making a difference? Her poem puts everything in perspective about making that difference.
“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.”
Added to that is the late comedian George Burns who said:”I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.”
Finally, one of the most profound statements that I came across comes from French writer Victor Hugo. I first saw it on a poster in a movie theatre. It’s from his play “Les Miserables”.
“If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin but the one who causes the darkness.”
And we, as a society, are guilty of creating that darkness. Our weapon is our silence motivated by apathy. We don’t show a real concern for the hurting.
If each and everyone one of us became more responsible to each other, we could solve many of our social problems – the source which find their causes in isolation, loneliness, lack of purpose, etc., just to name a few.