Tolerance, Gratitude, and What’s Really Important

Tolerance, Gratitude, and What’s Really Important

Welcome to December 2016, the last month of the year!

Last month, we celebrated Thanksgiving, hopefully along with those in our lives whom we love and care for. Soon it will be time for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Mawlid, and other special December events. Of course, this doesn’t mean we have to share the same beliefs with those who are present at the dinner table, but we should at least respect, and especially not ridicule, those relatives and friends who follow a different religion or spiritual path.

I have many friends in education, especially in NYC, “where the world lives,” (or so they say), who often share that a key issue encountered with their students is that the kids often disagree with one another, and get passionate about their beliefs. Good educators teach that there is no good reason to mock another’s belief system. Instead, effective educators teach kids to be kind to one another.

Naturally, learning begins at home. I truly admire parents who teach their children how to behave properly. I recently read an article by a mother who has two daughters – one is Chinese, and the other is a lesbian. The mother came from parents who taught her the importance of tolerance and respect for others. She was recently concerned that the differences between her children could cause problems. She nonetheless felt gratitude for being afforded the opportunity to live her life in this country. She is first generation and her parents instilled in her this gratitude.

For example, speaking up for someone who is weak and has been dissed by another is a kind and courageous thing to do. And I’m sure that I don’t have to remind you how bullying is a major problem. Standing up to bullies is not easy, but it can and should be done. Less difficult would be the simple act of thanking someone for holding open a door, which will elevate your and his or her spirits. Or helping an elderly person with those packages that she can hardly handle, given her struggles with the walker. This is what our end-of-the-year holidays are a reminder of – being kind.

I’m sure also that most of you realize how important it is to give at this time of the year, especially to those who are likely to receive little or nothing, unless you contribute. We all know how hard it is for children who are of lesser means to see other relatively “rich” children get so many more toys than they seem to need. See what you can do about that by helping a poor child in your neighborhood, and/or by contributing to a worthwhile charity that cares for children.

Also, think back. Do you really remember all the toys you got as a kid? Were those toys more important to you in the long run than the thoughts behind them? Do you agree that, as Maya Angelou once said, “I may not remember exactly what someone said, but I remember how they made me feel”?

We are all here together. We are not isolated. Every smile, action, and even thoughts can create a positive change in those with whom we interact.

Would each of us not give away all those lovely presents we have received over the years, to spend just one more holiday moment interacting here in the physical with a loved one who has already transitioned? To experience one more opportunity to feel their presence, hear them laugh, or even argue – just to be close again? Well, cheer up! Your departed loved ones ARE around you, especially at this time of the year. Open your hearts, relax, believe, and feel their presence. A toast of wine to them would also help.

This is what December is all about – a reminder of the things that are truly important – those moments of loving, connecting, and sharing happy memories that are ours forever. Treasure these moments – no one can take them away from you.

Everywhere I go in my line of work, so many faces I encounter, no matter where, over and over again, reveal a sense of loss of missing that special person who has crossed over. But please do remember this: those who have made their transition are in a better place.

Earth is a learning school. We are spirits having a human experience. When the experience is over here, we shed our costumes (bodies) and ascend to our natural spiritual state. What matters most is that we know in our hearts that regardless of how difficult it is to endure physical endings, Love goes on in the Spiritual, and that we will all be reunited with our loved ones eventually.

Our loved ones want us to know that, and to not lose sight of this perspective. They are doing fine. So enjoy life while you can, and as much as you can!

Remember, there is always something to be grateful for, even after Thanksgiving has passed. And although the loss of a loved one can be most difficult, we need to face the difficult fact that we can’t change what has occurred.

However, even if you are a skeptic, you can change your beliefs and thoughts to realize that Love goes on even after physical death. Once you recognize this reality, and feel it in your heart, you will join those of us who know beyond a shadow of a doubt that while the passing of a loved one is often very difficult to endure, and that the grief must be processed, we can deal with such a loss knowing that we will be reunited with our beloved DPs (dead persons) in the future. And meanwhile, they are here watching over us. Rest assured.

On another note . . . I’m often asked about the little things we can do, to help us and others enjoy the holiday season. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Hug those you love and those who need love. Thank them for being in your life.
  2. Make a list of those for whom you want to shop, and/or those you want to touch, during this season of kindness and Love. Remember that shopping for others need not involve elaborate gifts. Effective shopping can be for food that folks need, or for plants to cheer them up.
  3. Send out cards, with candle lighting announcements, to those you know will be touched by your efforts.
  4. Purchase and give candles to your family and friends to burn throughout the months, to remind them, if they are among those who need to be reminded, that Love is immortal. Let them celebrate the lives of those who we know are with us in the spiritual, even if we can’t see them.
  5. Prepare and mail out cards (or texts, or emails) to those who lost someone recently, and are in a state of grieving, while acknowledging their profound grief. Include a personal message, if you have something gentle and positive to say.
  6. Decorate your living space in a way that makes people smile when they enter. And if it suits you, make your home smell of nature, preferably with a plant still growing in the earth, instead of one that has been chopped down and separated from the earth.
  7. Redecorate your living space in honor of those DPs you love, if they loved decorating while here in the physical.
  8. Plan and carry out random acts of kindness – most importantly, in ways that your dear departed loved ones would most appreciate and admire.
  9. Call, or visit, those that you feel a connection to, and/or who may be lonely.
  10. Know always in your heart that your departed loved ones hear you and laugh with you in joy as you think positively of them during the holiday season.

Enjoy December! It’s one of the most special months of the year. Reflect on all the events, connections, and gifts of gratitude you have received in 2016. And be thankful.

And with regard to those experiences that were difficult, remember . . . we are like old-fashioned photographs, in that we develop from the negative.

True love is forever. From my heart to yours.

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