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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Making Ripples

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. -- Mother Teresa

Isn't this a great quote from Mother Teresa? It is so true. Few of us as individuals can change the world, but we can create ripples. And those ripples can create great tidal waves. Think about the ripples created by Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Rachel Carson, Mahatma Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Their actions and words resulted in profound changes in the world.

Founder of the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa devoted her life to caring for the "poorest of the poor." This order, active in 133 countries, runs hospices and homes for people with HIV and AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. The sisters run soup kitchens, children's and family counseling programs, orphanages and schools. She brought attention to the plight of people shunned by others due to extreme poverty and illness.

Rosa Parks, by her refusal to yield her seat in the 'colored' section of a bus to a white man after the 'white' section became full, sparked a movement for equality and civil rights. She became an international symbol of resistance to racial segregation. Her simple act of defiance sparked a year-long boycott of the Montgomery, Ala., transit company. Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring segregated buses were unconstitutional. Although social mores don't change over night, Parks's quiet defiance lit a spark in the civil rights movement.

Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring helped launch the U.S. environmental movement by documenting the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment, on birds in particular. An investigation ordered by President John Kennedy that confirmed Carson's allegations resulted in strengthened regulation of chemical pesticides and the banning of the pesticide DDT.

Indian nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi used non-violent civil disobedience to achieve  India's independence from the British. His actions led to the now widespread use of non-violent marches, protests and sit-ins when citizens feel compelled to protest against laws they consider to be unfair. Decades later, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., employed similar tactics to advance the cause of civil rights.

What can we learn from these people from different places, countries and backgrounds? The message I get is that we never know when something we do may light a spark that creates change, or at the least, impacts another individual. That change most likely won't be immediate or dramatic, but the saying that 'great oaks from little acorns grow' is true of social change as well.

Each of us, no matter our status, has the potential to make ripples. We don't necessarily have to 'rock the boat', but each of us can make some ripples during our lifetime.

Monday, July 8, 2013

May I Go?

Do you think the time is right?
May I say goodbye to pain filled days and endless lonely nights?
I've lived my life and done my best, an example tried to be.
So can I take that step beyond, and set my spirit free?

I didn't want to go at first, I fought with all my might.
But something seems to draw me now to a warm and loving light.
I want to go, I really do; it's difficult to stay.
But I will try as best I can to live just one more day.
To give you time to care for me and share your love and fears.
I know you're sad and afraid, because I see your tears.

I'll not be far, I promise that, and hope you'll always know,
That my spirit will be close to you wherever you may go.
Thank you so for loving me. You know I love you too,
And that's why it's hard to say goodbye and end this life with you.
So hold me now just one more time and let me hear you say,
Because you care so much for me, you'll let me go today.


by Susan A. Jackson

I saw this poem on Facebook, and reading it immediately brought me to tears. This poem doesn't just speak of the loss of a beloved companion, but for me, it reminds me that my dear, much-loved dog Mila will soon ask me the same question.

My other dogs always let me know when they were ready to get their angel wings. My first, a little 11-pound dog named Patches, sat on the bed and looked at me in such a way that I immediately knew that she was asking to be released from her cancer-riddled body. Most recently, golden retriever Gage collapsed during a walk and just a few hours later was discovered to have metastasized, inoperable cancer. 

So now I must wait for Mila to tell me when she has had enough. For a dog that is nearly 15 years old, she is in pretty good health, aside from hip dysplasia and arthritis. She gets a couple of kinds of pain medications every day, but sometimes she stills seem uncomfortable. As much as I want to travel, I am staying close to home so I can spend as much time as possible with Mila. And when the end does come, I want to be with her, holding her and kissing her head until the very end.

Someone once said that one way to know when it is time to let a beloved animal companion go is to list three things that animal enjoys. When the animal is no longer able, or no longer wants, to do those things, then it is time. For Mila, eating, exploring our large back yard and going for walks are three things she loves. So far, she still enjoys all of these things, although our walks are slower and shorter now.

So until Mila no longer enjoys her favorite activities and she tells me in her own unique way that it is time for her to go, I will treasure every second with this sweet old dog.