Thursday Re-View — “The Greatest Miracle in the World”

“However, I am not that sort of a ragpicker.
I seek more valuable materials than old newspapers and aluminum beer cans..
I search out waste materials of the human kind,
people who have been discarded by others, or even themselves,
people who still have great potential
but have lost their self-esteem and their desire for a better life.
When I find them, I try to change their lives for the better,
give them a new sense of hope and direction,
and help them return from their living death…
which to me is the greatest miracle in the world.”
~ Og Mandino, The Greatest Miracle in the World

If there is any one thing that being a Licensed Mental Health Professional can teach you, it is that every single person you meet has a story. Some are easier to detect, while others are cloaked in near perfect images of success. The complexity of these stories is enhanced by gender, socioeconomic status, culture, genetics, upbringing, faith tradition, age, marital status, family situation, education…the list goes on.

But every person has a story…

In my work, I am privileged to be a co-journeyer with another person when they choose to share even a small part of their story. The details of some of their stories can crush you; I often find myself marveling at their strength and courage. Indeed, I do not know if I would still be standing if I had to go through what some people have gone through. And yet many of them retain their inherent goodness as they keep pushing forward…

The single mother whose younger son was tragically killed in a car accident by his older brother, which she was reminded of each time her oldest son came home from school…

The woman whose father had sexually abused her since she was an infant, with whom she had three children, receives word of his terminal cancer diagnosis and is torn between wanting to forgive him and wanting to condemn him…

The man who never told anyone else about his molestation when he was a little boy at the hands of his stepfather…

The former gang member, his body covered in tattoos, crying about how his mother died in her native country without knowing that her son left the gang and started a new life…

The teenaged girl, left pregnant from a brutal rape, whose daily morning sickness reminded her each day of the horrific incident…

The Viet Nam veteran who was plagued by flashbacks of his best buddy being blown into pieces right next to him…

The teen-aged girl, without siblings, who lost both her parents within 6 months of each other – her mother to cancer, her father in a car accident…

The woman who suffered from schizophrenia and refused psychotropic medication, who was evicted from another apartment every 3 months…

The woman who committed suicide because she could not see a way out of an abusive relationship…

A successful business woman who was now living out of her car because of her husband’s secret gambling addiction…

A young woman who would seek shelter in a closet during every thunderstorm, unable to forget how her mother used to bathe her in scalding hot water to try to cleanse her daughter of her fear…


“Each of these individuals and everyone else in the world
still have their own pilot light burning inside them.
It may be very diminished in some,
but…it never, never goes out!
So long as there is a breath of life remaining,
there is still hope…and that’s what we ragpickers count on.
Just give us a chance and we can provide the fuel
that will be ignited by any pilot light,
no matter how diminished it may be.
A human being…is an amazing and complex and resilient
organism capable of resuscitating itself
from its own living death many times,
if it is given the opportunity and shown the way.”
~ Og Mandino, The Greatest Miracle in the World

We are resilient, we human beings. And we are even better when we are joined in our pain by someone who cares…by someone who believes in our worth…who does not judge us, but rather sits with us in unconditional positive regard…who holds on to hope until each of us finds it once again…by someone who is simply present.

So I will continue to be present with those in need, whether those dying at the end of life or those dying while they pretend to live. I will search out those who have been discarded and slowly help them to believe in their worth. If I can find them, then they can find themselves.

And in our connectedness, together we will transform their diminished pilot light into a burning blaze that shines brightly for all to see.

Circles of Compassion and Grace. Remembering the Ragpicker’s instruction by following his very own:

Laws of Success and Happiness

~ Count your blessings. ~
~ Proclaim your rarity! ~
~ Go another mile. ~
~ Use wisely your power of choice. ~
~ Do all things with love. ~

And remembering that we humans are indeed the Greatest Miracle in the World…

babies 2


Today’s Quote

Enlightened means awakening to the basic goodness that is here,
at the heart of our humanity.
Society is the natural expression of that goodness.
It manifests as a natural connection
between beings that is experienced as kindness.
Thus, an enlightened society is an
awake and friendly association with others.

~ Sakyong Jampal Trinley Dradul ~


Breaking News — The 300 Peace Accord

300 II

It’s taken me more than 6 months, but I finally reached what I suppose is a seminal point for a new blogger.

300+ followers.

328 people who actually have agreed to see an e-mail from me every day in what must be already overloaded e-mail accounts.

With views from 59 different countries.  Amazing!

I am grateful, to say the least.

When I first started this blog, it was because I had to take a time-out from work because of health issues, and I wanted to reach out to people from my home, since I was no longer doing it in an office.

My goal was simple – to inspire people, to offer hope, to let them know that they were not alone. To give them the chance to get to know some extraordinary people I’ve met along the way, either through my work, my volunteering, my reading, or my travels. Or to share a daily quotation that at some point in my life, may have spoken to me for a brief moment.

Or comforted me. Or inspired. Or challenged. Or teased. Or humbled.

And guess what? I was inspired.

I don’t know if I achieved my goal for others, but I was certainly inspired by those I’ve met in the blogging world. And the blogging world is simply a microcosm of the real world.

Where else can I speak to or read about or cry with people from other countries and other cultures without ever having met them?

Where else can I view photos (and very, very good ones, at that!) of hills and meadows, festivals and country markets, colorful flowers and exotic animals, mountain peaks and crashing oceans?

Where else can I read about feeding hyenas in Ethiopia or visit a fashion house in Paris or a tiny market on the streets of Pakistan?

Or see the purple flowers against the gray stone of a chapel in Ireland or experience the Northern Lights in Norway or read about the politics of Croatia or the struggle for freedom in Egypt as they happen?

Or get tips on how to take care of elderly pets or teach a cat how to walk on a leash or get a recipe for soup from Singapore or discuss photography with a retiree in Hong Kong or take notes on the latest fashion from a Latvian teen-aged boy?


I’ve offered prayers to people struggling with cancer, sobriety, paralysis, depression and all kinds of loss; exchanged hopeful thoughts in the quiet early morning hours when sleep was elusive; read poetry by young adults in India, Spain and Romania (thank goodness for Google Translate!) who feel the same things as the rest of us, no matter our age or geographic location; read about different faith traditions practiced in so many parts of the world; and shared my own thoughts about people, with people and for people across the globe.

Ask me about how Mumbai’s skyline glitters at night or how the mountains surrounding Islamabad look draped in mist or how the colors of a New Zealand autumn blaze and pop or how the light falls in sacred shadows across an abandoned church in Scotland or how it looks to skydive over Palm Island in Dubai, UAE or how vividly green the terrace farming is in Yemen or how the architecture sings at night in Barcelona.

Or how cheetah hunt or elephants grieve or eagles mate or dolphins swim or butterflies migrate.

Or how people the world over hate war, how they cry for the same reasons, laugh at silly jokes, help those in need, share food and water when they have little, offer hope when others have none, speak volumes without words in their photographs, allow us to visit inside their homes and hearts, show us their children and plans for the future.

We are different; we are the same.

We share stories; we share ourselves.

We reach out; we touch hearts and hands.

We speak in different languages; we speak the same.

We harbor faith not confined by religion.

We believe and we dream.

We inspire and we offer hope.

We are present and never alone.

We are connected.

We are One.

We shall bring peace.


So, in celebration, I would like to propose “The 300 Peace Accord.”

A grass roots movement that starts with the 328 loyal followers of this humble blog, Soul Gatherings.

We’ve already shown that we have more in common than different.

We agree – we disagree – – we communicate – we listen – we share – we learn – we care.

Let all of us decide the fate of World Peace.

One person – one post – one follower – one blog – at a time.

We can do this. I can feel it. I can hear our voices, united.

The 300 Peace Accord.

Are you in?


Human Family

Humanity II

Human Family
by Maya Angelou, 1994

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world,
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.


An Invisible Host

An Invisible Host
by Raymond B. Fosdick (1883-1972)
Past President of the Rockefeller Foundation

An American soldier wounded on a battlefield in the Far East owes his life to the Japanese scientist Kitasato, who isolated the bacillus of tetanus.

A Russian soldier saved by a blood transfusion is indebted to Landsteiner, an Austrian.

A German is shielded from typhoid fever with the help of a Russian, Metchnikoff.

A Dutch Marine in the East Indies is protected from malaria because of the experiments of an Italian, Grassi.

A British aviator in North Africa escapes death from surgical infection because a Frenchman, Pasteur, and a German, Koch, elaborated a new technique.

In peace, as in war, we are beneficiaries of knowledge contributed by every nation in the world.

Our children are guarded from diphtheria by what a Japanese and a German did; they are protected from smallpox by the work of an Englishman; they are saved from rabies because of a Frenchman; they are cured of pellagra from the researches of an Austrian.

From birth to death they are surrounded by an invisible host – the spirits of men who never thought in terms of flags or boundary lines and who never served a lesser loyalty than the welfare of mankind.


Franklin Institute

Franklin Institute

After Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790) had received a letter
thanking him for having done a kindness, he replied:

“As to the kindness you mention,
I wish I could have been of more service
to you than I have been,
but if I had,
 the only thanks that I should desire
are that you would always be ready to serve
 any other person that might need your assistance,
and so let the good offices go around,
 for mankind are all part of a family.
 As for my own part,
 when I am employed in serving others,
I do not look upon myself
as conferring favors
but paying debts.”