Tuesday, May 11, 2010


"This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine..."

I don't know anybody who isn't haunted by something.  It shows up in what we do, how we do it and how we treat people. Compassion might just be the cure.

I am totally convinced that compassion is the best therapeutic agent in existence.  I have struggled with looking through the lens of a camera, or at a TV screen, or computer monitor, not hiding  and really, really seeing.  Seeing places and circumstances that teach us daily to suffer and to hopefully find it within ourselves to give back with compassion.  Perhaps then, compassion is a catalyst for, not only passion, but also for love.

Working with my soldiers I find that the single most important responsibility that I have is to encourage this love and compassion.  It is also painful at times for both of us.  I absolutely believe that these men and women who have gone to war have misplaced the ability to know these traits and to feel love, understanding,  tolerance and how to forgive and sometimes to accept forgiveness.  But I also know they understand how to live life fully. In the end, we have much to teach each other.  We must all seek to make our soldier's wellbeing the object of our concern.  We must assist in the healing for where they are right now and where they are going.  And we must let them know wherever and whatever they are experiencing  is okay, as we find we must provide a sanctuary in the storm for many of them when they return!  We must help them learn to remember that they too need to give themselves grace.

With my soldiers the lump in my throat sometimes comes with tears attached. It isn't always easy, it isn't always pretty.  But  it is what I do and where I belong.

I hear over and over again from friends and people who 'don't get it', "Why do you do this?" "How do you do this." "You work so hard for a just handful of soldiers when there are thousands returning that need help too."  My answer to them is, "How can I not do it?"  They shake their head and tell me 'well I couldn't do it.' What if our soldiers said that - that they couldn't do it.  All too often people hide from what they don't want to know or what they don't want to see.  How sad, when all our soldiers want  is to be appreciated for their sacrifices and that what they gave was not in vain. Just sitting with them shows them I care.  Making a homecooked breakfast for hundreds of them shows them I care.  And you know what? Without exception over my omelet pan, dozens and dozens of soldiers, their moms, dads, wives, sisters, children come up to me and say 'thank you.'  It just doesn't get any better than that.  I was on television for twenty years with a daily cooking show and in the process authored fifty cookbooks.  None of that has ever meant as much to me as one soldier coming up and saying 'thank you.'  Maybe you understand this, maybe you don't. It doesn't matter.  I know. 

So if someone is overwhelmed by the light of my passion, I invite them to wear sunglasses and get out of my way.  This is an inner journey, my inner journey, not  an outer one.  This is what makes my life full of meaning and passion, instead of sleepwalking through life like so many, many others.  The soldiers have been changed, and I have been changed because of them.  I will never be the same.  We all need to feel this awe.  I feel it with each soldier, in heartfelt moments and in beautiful timing, one at a time.  These men and women are of value, today I ask you to make them a priority, to help them find their place in the universe again.

When bad things happen to good people doing good, sometimes the answers aren't everything.  Ask the questions from your heart and not your head. This is where the answers come.  This is where grace enters.


   Time never stops to rest, never hesitates, never looks forward or backward.  Life's raw material spends itself now, this moment - which is why how you spend your time is far more important than all the material possessions you may own or positions you may attain."
"Denis Waitley

"Great minds have purposes: others have wishes."
Washington Irving

"What one approves, another scorns,
And thus his nature each discloses:
You find the rosebush full of thorns,
I find the thornbush full of roses."
Arthur Guiterman

"We do not remember days, we remember moments."
Cesare Pavese


Thistle Photo Courtesy
Penny's From Heaven Foundation Volunteer - Cliff Manis
God Bless Our Troops Photo - Patsy Swendson

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