Archives for the month of: May, 2015

Bob MacArthur

Her doctor found a lump. His boss fired him unceremoniously. At midlife she realized that in putting family first she had neglected other important parts of herself.

Episodes of loss of direction, health, livelihood or relationship – when the old ways are no longer available or no longer serve us – can literally be life changing. If we don’t let them overwhelm us, they can redirect us to a path that is more true and fulfilling.

Exiled by his brother, the duke in As You Like It reflects on his humiliation and new way of being. He concludes that the disheartening elements of his crisis

…are counsellors that feelingly persuade me what I am. Sweet are the uses of adversity; which like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head. (Act II, Scene 1, 10-14)

In the lore of Shakespeare’s day the toad had venom associated with its ugliness. It also held healing power in its temple, the precious jewel of which the duke speaks.

What can we learn from the circumstances that challenge us to our core? Having been dealt a few setbacks in my life, I see how much those times served to persuade me who I am today.

Calamities provide the opportunity to re-imagine and redefine who we are and why we are here. They impel us to return to the basic questions of what brings us meaning and joy in life. Facing into these difficulties with a sense of inquiry can lead to new, forgotten or neglected answers. These are the jewels inherent in the anguish of crisis. We can discover them, if we choose.

What precious gems do you see for yourself in your times of adversity?


Several times each day we face the question, where do I belong? Our answers define us, as the marketers of social media have learned from our clicks!

There are many levels of belonging. We inherit some like our family of origin or our cohort at school. We choose others like our relationships, livelihood, neighborhood, spirituality, political affiliations and many more.

What are the criteria we use when we choose to belong? For me feeling “at home” is a good indicator that encompasses four qualities – safe, affirming, congruent and stretching.

I am at home and seek to belong with people and situations where I feel safe physically and emotionally. I also choose to belong where I am recognized and appreciated for who I am, not only for the things I do effectively but my foibles and shortcomings as well. I was blessed that my family of origin provided those qualities. They have served as benchmarks throughout my life. I am also aware that for many folks their family of origin was not a safe and affirming zone.

My livelihood has been an unfolding journey with each employment bringing me closer to congruency with my vocation and core values. No doubt, beckoning curiosity has played a role – can I or can’t I? Also, integral to each job have been the challenges and acceptable risks that have stretched me to grow in understanding and competence.

I am aware of and grateful for my privilege of choosing to live and belong to those individuals, groups, places and causes that most reflect the world of my values.

Where do you choose to belong? What are your criteria? It might be instructive today to be aware of the answers you click in response.

Bob MacArthur

Friendship is one of life’s gifts. Too often in our busy-ness we may forget how important our friends are to us. May this post ring like a bell of mindfulness.

Friendship moves to the center of my awareness today, as Peggy and I prepare to join a group of companions next week. They are high school classmates and spouses. A couple of us were close as teenagers and have remained so throughout life. Most of us, however, shared the vacillating dramas of those years without much deeper contact and only reconnected at our 50th reunion five years ago. We have been journeying together ever since via phone and gatherings.

Next week we’ll spend three days in conversation, sightseeing, music, and mutual support. There will be laughter, good food and deep sharing. We’ll celebrate each other and fortify ourselves for today’s challenges and those that lie ahead.

The roots of the word companion come from the Latin, com (with) panis (bread). Literally and figuratively companions break bread together. Celebrated in the rituals of most religions and spiritual paths, meal fellowship nurtures both body and soul.

Bernie Taupin’s lyrics together with Elton John’s music capture these truths in their song Friends (1971).

It seems to me a crime that we should age. These fragile times should never slip us by.

A time you never can or shall erase, as friends together watch their childhood fly.

Making friends for all the world to see. Let the people know, you got what you need.

With a friend at hand you will see the light. If your friends are there, then everything’s all right.

Does one of your friends come to mind? Would a phone call, visit or email of gratitude be in order?