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Bringing Your Gift

Bringing Your Gift

A year ago this weekend, a man, a very broken and damaged man, killed 49 of my neighbors and died himself-predominantly young people who were dancing and relaxing together in what was supposed to be a safe place. This kind of act leaves a mark. It’s a bruise on the universe and it will be felt for years, maybe centuries. Over the next few days, we’ll honor those who were harmed, and those who were killed as part of the healing of that bruise. We’ll also honor the thousands here and millions worldwide who said “I will not allow this destruction to claim my heart. I will meet fear and despair with compassion, I will meet anger with acceptance and I will not water the seeds of hatred but instead dig them out and replace them with seeds of compassion, loving kindness, empathy and equanimity-the four aspects of true love.”
Like a lot of Orlando companies, Monday, June 12 is an official holiday for IDEAS. Some of us have to work as we have obligations to our clients but many will be taking the day to connect with our community. John Gardner is one of our great sages of social justice. He served in WWII, was Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, was one of the creators of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and founded Common Cause and Experience Corps. He was also a Republican. Gardner once offered a definition of Community as being “less intimate than personal and more intimate than public”. We know we belong to a community by the songs we sing, the respect we offer each other, our commonly agreed upon behaviors and of course, our shared stories.
The morning after the Pulse attack, most everyone in our community was reeling. It was an intimate sense of being overwhelmed, of being lost in between “fight-flight or freeze”. It was a miasma that enveloped us like a poison gas. “What do I do?” was the arresting thought. Right now in the world, it seems like fear, anger and despair loom like dragons at every turn reminding me of another Gardner quote: “Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world’s ills, and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all.” Difficult times, hardship, the unpleasant, fear, anger, despair. Gardner reminds us that it is rarely a case of “them”. One way to answer these feelings is to be quiet, look deeply at them, accept them and replace “What Do I do” with “What are my gifts”? We all have them. In Sarajevo during the war, a man used to sit with his cello in the middle of the bombed and burned city and play. It was his way of pushing back the darkness of genocide and ethnic cleansing. A friend of mine on discovering that his cancer was probably not going to go away decided to do stand-up comedy for the first time in his life to create laughter. The answer to “What do I do?” is “Bring your gift.” Teach, paint, write, make a film, organize a neighborhood discussion group, engage your political party, care for children, write poetry, sit and listen deeply to someone you disagree with without judging, go to your job and do it well, tell another person that they are smart, pretty, necessary and important . Whatever you’re gifted with, share that with the intention to bring healing. This is how we ease the pain of that bruise and how we continue our slain brothers and sisters beautifully.

In the name of the daybreak
and the eyelids of morning
and the wayfaring moon
and the night when it departs,

I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.

In the name of the sun and its mirrors
and the day that embraces it
and the cloud veils drawn over it
and the uttermost night
and the male and the female
and the plants bursting with seed
and the crowning seasons
of the firefly and the apple,

I will honor all life
—wherever and in whatever form
it may dwell—on Earth my home,
and in the mansions of the stars.

-Diane Ackerman

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A nationally recognized speaker, Bob has presented to various groups that include the U.S. Air Force, Association of Travel Marketing Executives, Allied Travel Organization, National Telecommunications Conference to name a few.