Hi. My name is Leslie Coff – and this is the podcast Breathing Out Stars
This is Episode 29.
If you are listening to this podcast the week that it was made then everything will feel very timely for you.
If you are listening later – then listen anyway. A podcast is an art form – filled with heart and dreams and intellect and color and sound editing.
I have said before that difficult times, challenging times, are an ‘opportunity’ to find grace.
When the world is in play, when your world is in play, when you feel pressure, there is an opportunity for kindness.
When there is no faith – when things are dark.
This is an opportunity for faith.
I learned of a story this week. There is a young man in a crowded boxcar in winter. In the dark. In the cold. He is on his way to Auschwitz. As you might imagine the boxcar was tightly crammed with people. In the dark. In the cold. Next to this young man an elderly man was breathing shallowly. The young man was worried. He put his arm around the older man. He began to rub his arms, his back, his legs, his feet….to try to warm up this fellow. The rest of the trip, the rest of the night he worked to keep the circulation of the older man next to him.
By morning, when the train stopped and the door of the boxcar had been opened, there were, out of a full boxcar, only two people still alive. Two men: the young man and the elderly man, the stranger, he had worked to warm up during the night.
When you work to warm another you warm yourself as well.
In times such as these find a way to comfort one next to you.
Challenges create opportunities for action. We are in a time now where there are opportunities for you to find faith – to reach for something greater than yourself.
I have a new appreciation for those who came before me. After weeks and months and years of making Molotov cocktails to sidetrack oncoming invaders – they pivot into activities of peace time…including meal planning, meeting friends for drinks.
How on earth – after hiding in subway stations and basements and showering once a week do you transition to “hey, how does a tuna sandwich sound for lunch”.
To look at someone from the outside you cannot possibly see the ruin that is their inner life.
Hmmm. By ruin I don’t mean total ruin – but on the surface you cannot see the trauma – the running from dangerous places, dangerous partners, deception. The bravery of the everyday.
I heard this beautiful description a few weeks ago – that we all have sorrows and losses clanging about our ankles like cans on cars.
This is a time to be brave.
Even if your most difficult decision of the day is which pair of socks you will choose – if you are a person you have to be feeling something.
Deciding which socks to wear is a peace time activity.
Meal planning is a peace time activity.
Planning cocktails – a peace time activity.
Sure – it was here that I was definitely going to include the recipe for the cocktail called the Molotov Cocktail.
In my own way – trying to be funny – like I do.
And yeah, it has triple sec and oranges and rose’s lime juice and red food coloring and citron vodka and lemon twist.
But after thinking about it for a bit I have decided that you can look for that recipe on your own.
You know how I have been saying that joy is resilience? Well – I have decided that not only is joy resilience…but resilience is resilience. The one step in front of another in our lives – the one step in front of another with one suitcase dragging behind us on our way to the border of our country – a country that we can no longer stay in
A story that has been told over and over again over time – and as humans, have we really not gotten any better than this?
Where we are beasts who just batter each other?
Be generous with your kindness.
This week and last week I have spoken to so many people who are really – just – not okay.
After two years of clenched fists, trying to hold it all together, people are starting to feel. And there is too much to feel.
But I am also asking you to feel.
The artist – Paul Cezanne – suggested that “a work of art that does not begin in emotion is not art.”
So I am suggesting to you that you let yourself feel. There is a whole heck going on.
And there may be more changes.
There will be.
Surviving. It is from there that lies the thing. Joy may be resilience.
But resilience…is joy.
Be the ones who are still alive when they open the boxcar doors in the morning.
Warming another will warm you.
I am leaving you with this song.
May they wash over you and bring you peace.
“American Tune” by Paul Simon
Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I’ve often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh, but I’m alright, I’m alright
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home
And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees
But it’s alright, it’s alright
For we lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the
Road we’re traveling on
I wonder what’s gone wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what has gone wrong
And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying
We come on the ship they call The Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hours
And sing an American tune
Oh, and it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest.
I am Leslie Coff – this is Breathing Out Stars – and thank you for listening.