Thursday, July 28, 2016

Possessed by Success?

Paid in Full

A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.

As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car.

Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box.

Curious, and somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound book, with the young man’s name embossed in gold.

Angry, he raised his voice to his father and said “with all your money, you give me a used book?” and stormed out of the house.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day.

Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.

When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father’s important papers and saw the still gift-wrapped book, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the book and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined.

As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the book. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words PAID IN FULL.   (Author Unknown)
+ + + 

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, 'It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you. 'The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. 'I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.'

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.
By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by -- still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot...

But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the boardroom. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful -- in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him! When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back. 'My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,' said the CEO. 'Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!'
All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, 'The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!'

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed - Jim told him the story. The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, 'Behold your next Chief Executive Officer. His name is Jim!'

Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed.
'How could he be the new CEO?' the others said. Then the CEO said, 'One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!'

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Humming with Hope . . .

Humming In The Darkness

Hope means to keep living
amid desperation
and to keep humming
in the darkness.
Hoping is knowing that there is love,
it is trust in tomorrow
it is falling asleep
and waking again
when the sun rises.
In the midst of a gale at sea,
it is to discover land.
In the eyes of another
it is to see that you are understood . . .
As long as there is still hope
There will also be prayer . . .
And you will be held
in God’s hands.  
Henri Nouwen ~ With Open Hands

Monday, July 25, 2016

Anointed by Nature . . .Let us pray!

A prayer for the world

Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.
Rabbi Harold Kushner

Saturday, July 23, 2016

God, lead us to choose wisely . . .as we share this planet!

A Prayer for Leadership by Joan Chittister, OSB

Give us, O God,
 leaders whose hearts are large enough
 to match the breadth of our own souls
 and give us souls strong enough
 to follow leaders of vision and wisdom.

In seeking a leader, let us seek
 more than development for ourselves—
 though development we hope for—
 more than security for our own land—
 though security we need—
 more than satisfaction for our wants—
 though many things we desire.

Give us the hearts to choose the leader
 who will work with other leaders
 to bring safety
 to the whole world.

Give us leaders
 who lead this nation to virtue
 without seeking to impose our kind of virtue
 on the virtue of others.

Give us a government
 that provides for the advancement
 of this country
 without taking resources from others
 to achieve it.

Give us insight enough ourselves
 to choose as leaders those who can tell
 strength from power,
 growth from greed,
 leadership from dominance,
 and real greatness from the trappings of grandiosity.

We trust you, Great God,
 to open our hearts to learn from those
 to whom you speak in different tongues
 and to respect the life and words
 of those to whom you entrusted
 the good of other parts of this globe.

We beg you, Great God,
 give us the vision as a people
 to know where global leadership truly lies,
 to pursue it diligently,
 to require it to protect human rights
 for everyone everywhere.

We ask these things, Great God,
 with minds open to your word
 and hearts that trust in your eternal care.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

God, Be With Us in gentleness and strength . . .

God Be With Us

May God be with us in strength, holding us in strong-fingered hands; and may we be the sacrament of God’s strength to those whose hands we hold.

May God be with us in gentleness, touching us with sunlight and rain and wind. May God’s tenderness shine through us to warm all who are hurt and lonely.

May God be with us in wonder, delighting us with thunder and song, sunrise and daisy; enchanting our senses, filling our hearts, giving us wide-open eyes for seeing and splendor in the humble and majestic. And may we open the eyes and hearts of the blind and the insensitive.

May God be with us in love and friendship, listening to us, speaking to us, drawing us close as we tremble at the edge of self-gift.  May God’s love in us light fires of faith and hope, glow in our eyes and meet God’s love glowing in the eyes of our friends.

May God be with us in compassion, holding us close when we are weary and hurt and alone – when there is rain in our heart. And may we be the warm hands and the warm eyes of compassion for our friends when they reach out to us in need.

May God be with us in joy, thrilling us with nearness, filling our heart to fullness and filling our throat to ringing, singing exultation.

May God be with us in peace, stilling the heart that hammers with fear and doubt and confusion, and may our peace, the warm mantle of your peace, cover those who are troubled or anxious.

May God be with us in simplicity, opening us to a clearer vision of what is real and true, leading us deeply into the mystery of life and may our dealings with others be marked by honesty.

May God be with us today and every day. May God hold each of us, empowering us with understanding, love, and respect.

May God’s forgiveness touch our hearts, enabling us to forgive ourselves and each other.

And finally, may we experience God’s peace and the joy that results from unity and prayer, shared values, and common vision
Author Unknown

A Path with the Presence!

Walking My Path
by Annette L. Sherwood

Seeking God in my own time and place
there is something Holy in my seeking
My seeking –
the unknown path I walk
steady and slow my pace
sure – and steady
purposeful steps taken
I feel each one touch the ground
there is a holiness to it –
I feel it-
the confidence comes from
accepting my own rhythm –
with Grace of the creative universe
- slow - and constantly moving
steady, strong, sure
as obstacles come to me
I wait, pause, reflect,
and then take my own trusted
course of action –
not always welcomed
and yet – my assured path
step, step
I move again
comfortable within myself
assured that I have wisdom
in God’s guidance
listening and leading
moving deeper within
leaving some behind
with a prayer for peace
and taking another brave step toward
Wonder, Awe, Unknown –
where God dwells
beyond my understanding

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mary and Martha ~ Touched by the Holy!

Bethany Decisions (Luke 10:38-42)
Martha and Mary by Doris Klein, CSA
As Jesus taught the gathered brothers
and Martha boiled and baked their dinner,
Mary eavesdropped in the anteroom.
Her dying mother’s warning words
clanged clearly in her memory –
“Obey your sister. She has learned
the ways and duties of a woman.”

She’d learned her sister’s lessons well
and knew a woman’s place was not
to sit and listen and be taught.
But when she heard the voice of Jesus
call to her above the din
of Martha’s boiling pots and pans,
she made her choice decisively –
took off her apron and traditions,
and walked in.

Author: Irene Zimmerman, OSF
From ~ Woman Un-Bent

Friday, July 15, 2016

We hold France in prayer . . .again!

Prayer for Victims of Terrorism

Loving God,
Welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism.
Comfort their families and all who grieve for them.
Help us in our fear and uncertainty,
And bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love.
Strengthen all those who work for peace,
And may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts.
(Xavier University)

A member of the French community holds up a candle and a national flag during a vigil in Sydney on July 15, 2016.
The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Citizen  07.15.2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Listened to ~ loved ~ discovered ~ homed!


When Someone Deeply Listens To You

When someone deeply listens to you
it is like holding out a dented cup
you've had since childhood
and watching it fill up with
cold, fresh water.
When it balances on top of the brim,
you are understood.
When it overflows and touches your skin,
you are loved.

When someone deeply listens to you
the room where you stay
starts a new life
and the place where you wrote
your first poem
begins to glow in your mind's eye.
It is as if gold has been discovered!

When someone deeply listens to you
your barefeet are on the earth
and a beloved land that seemed distant
is now at home within you.

 John Fox

Friday, July 8, 2016

The angel asked: "Why are you weeping?"

So much sadness, anger, and loss over these days. . . and so we can hear the angels asking, "Why are you weeping?"

Quote from Elie Wiesel . . .
The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death." (Interview with U.S. media, 1986)
Blessing Our World Now by John O’Donohue

Sometimes when we look out, the world seems so dark. War, violence, hunger, and misery seem to abound. This makes us anxious and helpless. What can I do in my private little corner of life that could have any effect on the march of world events? The usual answer is: nothing. We then decide to do what we can for our own and leave the great events to their domain. Thus, we opt out, and join the largest majority in the world: those who acquiesce.

Believing ourselves to be helpless, we hand over all our power to forces and systems outside us that then act in our names; they go on to put their beliefs into action; and ironically these actions are often sinister and destructive. We live in times when the call to full and critically aware citizenship could not be more urgent. We need to rediscover the careless courage, yet devastating simplicity, of the little boy, in the middle of the numbed multitude, in na├»ve Socratic fashion, blurts out ‘But the emperor has no clothes.’ When spoken, the word of truth can bring down citadels of falsity.

Real presence is the ideal of all true individuation. When we yield to helplessness, we strengthen the hand of those who would destroy. When we choose indifference, we betray our world. Yet the world is not decided by action alone.  It is decided more by consciousness and spirit; they are the secret sources of all action and behavior. The spirit of a time is an incredibly subtle, yet hugely powerful force. And it is comprised of the mentality and spirit of all individuals together. 

Therefore, the way you look at things is not simply a private matter. Your outlook actually and concretely affects what goes on. When you give in to helplessness, you collude with despair and add to it. When you take back your power and choose to see the possibilities for healing and transformation, your creativity awakens and flows to become an active force of renewal and encouragement in the world.  In this way, even in your own hidden life, you can be a powerful agent of transformation in a broken, darkened world.  There is a huge force field that opens when intention focuses and directs itself toward transformation.

(From To Bless the Space Between Us)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

An Artful Story About Art!

The Story of a Son
(author unknown)

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.

When the Viet Nam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier.

The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door.  A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.

He said, "Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art."

The young man held out his package. "I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this."

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears.

He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. "Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift."

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son.

The auctioneer pounded his gavel. "We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?"

There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, "We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one."

But the auctioneer persisted, "Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100,  $200?"

Another voice shouted angrily, "We didn't come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!”  But still the auctioneer continued, "The son! The son! Who'll take the son?"

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. "I'll give $10 for the painting." Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.

“We have $10, who will bid $20?” “Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.” “$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?” The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!”

A man sitting on the second row shouted, "Now let's get on with the collection!" The auctioneer laid down his gavel, "I'm sorry, the auction is over."

"What about the paintings?"

"I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the Will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!"

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Samaritan of goodness and mercy . . .

In this liturgical calendar year, the Gospel reading for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time is that of The Good Samaritan.  I once had written a reflection on this Scripture from the Inn Keeper’s point of view.  I post it here for your reflection.  I invite you to consider “stepping into the parable” and writing your own reflection.  Blessings!

Art by Theodule Ribot

Shalom to you!

I am the owner and manager of this establishment which some would like to call an inn. It seems to be the only place on this rugged stretch of road between Jerusalem and Jericho.  I see a lot of strange happenings along these heavily traveled paths, for it is a major trade route.  One has to be vigilant on these roads, especially when the band of robbers surprise unsuspecting victims.

I am often fortunate to encounter a number of travelers who are merchants, pilgrims, temple elders, and foreigners from nearby provinces who are looking for work.  I know that some are not of my faith, but my wife says I need to be open and offer hospitality to anyone who seeks refuge from the desert sun, or needs rest from walking the dirt roads, or who may be on pilgrimage for atonement of sins long ago.  I have a young new family and the extra money is essential for me so I can feed and clothe my family, besides paying taxes to the governor!  

I learned a lot from my father when he was an innkeeper in Bethlehem.  When I was a child, he often told me stories of the people who came to his establishment.  He always enjoyed telling one story in particular of a young pregnant woman, who traveled with a man with strong hands and an anxious heart.   Since this was the time of the census, they sought a place to stay with their relatives, but no one would make room for this unwed mother to be.  It was my father who gave them a place to stay.

So I now encounter this Samaritan man – I can tell by his accent and the way he is dressed.  He is carrying someone on his donkey and is heading here to my desk.  We are a simple establishment. No magnetic swipe, cards, no room service (unless there is money to accompany the request) and no extra set of clean towels.  This tall, quite burly Samaritan says that he found this Jew along the roadside, beaten and left half dead.  Apparently this man encountered those robbers that I spoke of earlier.   The Samaritan requested a room for him to care for this injured man. I accommodated and even gave him those extra towels with no charge – my wife said that would be the compassionate thing to do.  Early the next morning, the Samaritan hands me money, two days wages, and wants me to give the injured man further care with a bed, food, and healing oils.  I agree to do so immediately.  I guess it was his eyes, his gentle voice, and his deep concern for this traveler.  He didn’t even know his name.  He said that he would return in a few days and pay me with more money if what he had given me was not enough.  

He then turned, started to walk out the door, but turned and spoke a blessing to me and my family.  I wondered if he was a follower of the man from Galilee whom they call, Jesus.  This Samaritan man was so compassionate toward this traveler, a Jew.   When he returns, I will ask him where I can find this Jesus.  

~ Based on the Parable of the Good Samaritan
~  Luke 10:25-37 
Loma Linda Medical Center sculpture

The Keys to Freedom . . .and peace!

The Fable of the Four Philanthropists 

Once upon a time, there was a small town besieged by war. Invading marauders eventually captured the land, built a prison in middle of the town square, and imprisoned all the warrior men of the community. And every day citizens would see their sons and fathers suffering behind bars in the middle of the town square. Unable to bear it any longer, 4 philanthropists got together and decided to make an offering of peace. 

The first philanthropist went to the jailer and said that he had a lot of money and couldn't stand to see the prisoners without fresh water. He begged for mercy so that he could spend all his money to buy fresh water for the prisoners to drink. The invaders allowed it and the philanthropist felt at peace with his offering. 

The second philanthropist went to the jailer and said he had a lot of livestock and couldn't stand to see the prisoners sleeping on rocks and dirt. He begged the jailer to be allowed to use his sheep and animal skins to make beds and pillows for the prisoners. The invaders allowed this gift and the philanthropist felt at peace. 

The third philanthropist went to the jailer and said he had a very large farm and he couldn't stand to see prisoners eating so poorly that many were malnourished. He begged the jailer to be allowed to bring all his food from the farm and make meals for the prisoners. The invaders allowed this gift and the philanthropist felt at peace. 

The fourth philanthropist had neither farm, nor livestock, nor money. He was very poor. But he was a saint. So for his gift he did what any saint would do: he stole the jailer's keys, snuck back to the jail at night, and released all the prisoners. And he felt at peace with this offering.

Reflect on the difference between mercy and justice.


Friday, July 1, 2016

A Blessing for the 4th of July!

Blessed Are You, O God, Who Has Made Us Free Persons

With joyful hearts uplifted in gratitude, we rejoice in that freedom which each of us has been given. We are a free people since we have come forth from the God of freedom. We are a free people because we have worked to remain free of all that threatens to enslave us.

We are filled with thanksgiving that You, our Redeemer, have shown us how we might be free in spirit and in heart as well as in body.

As You directed Your holy servant Moses to lead Your children Israel from slavery, from the oppression of the Pharaoh, so continue to direct us so that we may stay free from the oppression of evil, of greed and the lust for power over others.

As free daughters and sons of God, may the lamp of truth burn brightly in our home and in each of our hearts. As sisters and brothers of Jesus, may we be faithful, as was He, to the wondrous freedom of the children of light and be ever grateful for the joys of liberty.

May our profound reverence for truth, as piercing as a sword and ever-liberating, be our burning torch of freedom and shield against oppression in mind, heart, and soul.

Blessed are You, our God, who has made us free persons.  Amen.

(Adapted from Prayers for the Domestic Church)

The Reign of God is Within Us!

“What is the reign of God like? The reign of God is that sacred space where everyone loves everyone else unconditionally, where everyone dwells in peace, where everyone acts in perfect nonviolence, where everyone is happy, where everyone rejoices because they are in the presence of God—most of all, where everyone loves and worships the living God with all their being.

The reign of God is within us, among us, and far away from us all at the same time. It is right here in front of us, and it is nowhere near us.  It is the spiritual experience of inner peace and perfect unconditional love, but it is also an eschatological existence, the heavenly place where God lives, where we shall one day live with God. It is that space of vulnerability, innocence, wonder, peace, and joy that children know. It is the presence of our Lord Jesus.  It is life."  (From: The Questions of Jesus by John Dear)

“Jesus sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go.”  In the Gospel of this Sunday, Jesus is sending the disciples to the towns and villages before him to prepare the way. What a great opportunity for his followers to be entrusted with the message that the Kingdom of God is at hand!  However, there are a few “guidelines” in the Disciples’ Handbook that they are to practice:
• Ask “the God of the harvest” to call up more disciples to assist with this mission to preach the Good News that the kingdom is here!
• Be cautious – it is hazardous work – you can often feel like a lamb among wolves!
• Travel light – carry no GPS, no iPad, no Smart phone, no extra equipment; Remember - YOU are the equipment!
• Greet no one on the way. This is a help to keep you from being distracted from your purpose.  In other words, minimize your social networking!
• Enter a home with a greeting of PEACE!  It is always helpful to make a good first impression.
• Eat what is placed before you – no “global whining” allowed.  Have an attitude of gratitude.
• Don’t move from house to house – be content with the gift of what is.
• Cure the sick – and tell them, “God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep!” Remember, it is God working in and through you. Keep your ego out of the way!
• If you are not received, shake off the dust of the town from your feet and move on. Try not to hold a grudge.  Maybe they were not ready for the message – but keep the experience as a source of learning and as a container of new wisdom for yourself.

In the quote from John Dear, sj, he writes that the kingdom of God is a space of vulnerability.  I’m sure all of us can lean back into our life experiences and recall a vulnerable moment or two.  I recently listened to a TED Talk by Brene’ Brown on the power of vulnerability.  Yes, there is power in vulnerability. She states that for vulnerability to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, and that vulnerable people:
• live from a wholeheartedness – a worthiness – a sense of courage
• tell who they are with their hearts
• are compassionate, kind to self and then able to be compassionate toward others
• live a life which connects to others and the world; they live with authenticity
• they let go of who they thought they should be
• live with believing that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful
• live with a willingness to accept that there are no guarantees in life

Her final bit of advice to those willing to be vulnerable is:
• Let yourself be seen; love with your whole heart even with no guarantees
• Practice gratitude and joy in all moments, especially vulnerable moments
• Believe that you’re enough!  Then you are kinder to yourself and to others

Returning to the Gospel, the disciples had to move into this space of vulnerability to prepare the way for the Good News!  So let us all pray to the “God of the harvest” this week to give us the grace we need to be seen as whole hearted as we live with struggle, pain, uncertainties, imperfections, ambiguities, and the learnings of life.

Let us gain courage that the reign of God “is within us, among us, and far away from us all at the same time.” May we all live with knowing that we are enough, that we are impacted by what we do and are to each other, and that what makes us beautiful is our vulnerability!!