"Given Sincerity, there will be enlightenment." 
The Doctrine of the Mean - Ancient Chinese text

As I age, I continue to value sincerity.  Upon frequent assessment, I think it is one of my strengths.  I am not the smartest, certainly not the most handsome and not the most talented, but at my best, I speak from my heart.  I am sincere.

Sincerity asks us to be fully present.  Sincerity comes from the latin sin cere.  Sin cere means "without wax."

"During the Italian Renaissance, sculptors were as plentiful as plumbers, and markets selling marble and other stones were as prevalent as hardware stores.  Frequently, stone sellers would fill the cracks in flawed stones with wax and try to sell them as flawless.  Thus, an honest stone seller became known as someone who was sincere- one who showed his stone without wax, cracks and all.  
A sincere person, then, came to mean someone who is honest and open enough not to hide their flaws.  This honest stance becomes even more important when we consider, as the priest and therapist John Malecki says, that "without vulnerability, there can be no transformation." - Mark Nepo

In not hiding our cracks, we allow the light to shine through the cracks.  I believe sincerity is a stepping stone on the path to enlightenment.

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in"
- Leonard Cohen

For Easter Sunday

Ashley has lived longer and more vibrantly than anyone has expected.  Her life is a miracle.

She has come, in her wheelchair, to a few of my speeches and workshops.  Over the course of her 35 years I have shared her story everywhere I have spoken across the continent.  Her presence, her story and her life has touched the hearts of tens of thousands.

Ashley emanates Divine love.  She is pure in her body, mind and spirit.  She has no ego.  Her challenges are obvious.  No physical movement, no vocal ability, no ability to eat, drink or swallow.  her one ability is love, unconditional love.

We, her immediate family, have grown familiar with her routines, sleep, wake, medication, feedings, breathing treatments, percussion, transfer to wheelchair, repeat, repeat repeat for 35 years.  Ashley is open and loving to all treatment.  She is open and loving to all life.  Her deep brown eyes shine with the light of her soul.  Being in her presence is a great blessing. 

In Ashley's presence, I feel the unconditional love of Divinity.  Her warmth radiates through the room.

I have learned to never take a moment of life for granted.  It is a privilege to be in her presence.  I have learned to never hold anything back.  I tell her with each interaction, I love her and how grateful I am to still be with her these past 35 years.

Every life is a blessing.  
Let those we love know that we love them.  
Take nothing and no one for granted.

The Spiritual Life

"The spiritual life is about becoming more at home in your own skin." - Parker Palmer

I am blessed to teach classes where people want to explore their spirituality.  I have come to believe that one aspect of our spirituality is being fully authentic.  When we are integrous, authentic, vulnerable, and transparent, we are our best selves, we are spiritual.

I have experienced the spiritual holding the hand of our special needs daughter.  I have experienced the spiritual listening to the birds on an early spring morning.  I have seen the spiritual in the dust that sunlight pours through, letting me know miracles are real.

"In the world to come, they will not ask me, 'Why were you not Moses?'  
They will ask me, 'Why were you not Zusha?'"
- Zusha of Hanipoli

Our primary spiritual task is to be all God created us to be.  We do not need to aspire to be like someone else.  We only need to be all that we were designed to be.  Our spirituality resides in our authenticity. 

Being Real

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking to 600 educators from Delaware and Maryland.  This is not an uncommon experience in my life.  Over the past 47 years I have often been asked to give keynote speeches and workshops.  I have never thought that what I had to offer was particularly gifted or brilliant.  I know that intellectually, I am very average.  Something that I express however resonates with most people.  I share my life experiences, my heart, my soul.  I have found that being authentic, being transparent and being real does more good than intellect, salesmanship, debate or force.  I find that being real connects.  My life connects with your life.  We are more similar than we are different.  My only intention is to do God's will and share my truth.  As I speak, I see in the eyes and faces of the audience in genuine connection.  We feel the light of our soul's sun begin to shine.  We are warmed in our authenticity and vulnerability.  We begin to grow together.  Some call this love, some compassion and some empathy.  I feel it as community.

Somehow, through the grace of God, my vulnerability and authenticity gives my listeners permission to be fully human.  We remember our innocence, we remember our sense of purpose.  We remember our joy.

My life is blessed to find the courage to be brave and speak my truth, to share the guidance of the still, small voice.  I pray for the continued courage to be brave, to be real.