UnknownThe New Year has begun… I find myself full of well wishes, for family, friends, for YOU!  And for my circles and communities, the planet — its people and creatures — for my husband and, well yes, for me too :-).  

In the numerous thoughtful and warm Holiday and New Year e-mails that I received there was an offering from neuropsychologist, Dr. Rick Hanson, recommending some of his favorite links, talks, people.  The one of Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on daytime TV) accepting his Emmy award made a deep impression on me, opened my heart, raised many questions, and led to some deep conversations.  

Part of Fred Rogers’ mission and vision was to create a nurturing neighborhood where all children could grow and learn.  (You can read a bio, see and hear his short speech here, both of which are inspiring.)  

Here’s the part that really got to me.  He said, “All of us have special ones who loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are, those who cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life.”Unknown-1

It was the phrase “wanted what was best for you in life”  that stuck, and that I explored in the following days.  It put me in mind of a story about a Zen monk, who was remembered for his clean and pure good will.  When he died, it was said of him that he was the only one in the community who, when hearing about someone’s good fortune, felt only gladness (not a trace of envy, inferiority… you may know the drill, I sure do!).  And when he heard of someone’s ill fortune, he experienced only sadness and compassion (not a smidgen of Schadenfreude, or pleasure, satisfaction, comeuppance.)  

Using this, admittedly strict, criterion for well wishing, the Zen Monk’s pure, clean good will, I had to look long and hard for someone who I felt had that unmitigated good will towards me, who wished me well — no matter who I was, what I did….  

Before long I came to realize, with some dismay and abashment, that this was probably more a commentary on me than it was about the people in my life!  AFGO!  Shadow work, so early in the year!  But oh, so fruitful and illuminating.  Awareness is the prerequisite to any sort of real change, eh?

In the course of some lovely conversation with my husband about the whole of Mr. Rogers’ invitation, to think of special people — people who have helped me become who I am, who cared about me — numbers of dear and wonderful people arose.  Parents, teachers, women’s group members, spiritual fellow travellers.  And the two who stood out, who I believe actually met the Monk’s strictest criterion of having unmitigated good will toward me, were my dad and my grandmother, (the Granny in the Safe and Mysterious essay in BECOMING).  

How unbelievably fortunate I was to have an adoring father (see Maureen Murdock’s A Heroine’s Journey for more on this), and a Granny right near by, from whom I remember receiving nothing but acceptance and delight in my being, my Being.  This, as I mentioned before, is not necessarily objective.  But it IS my experience, and that’s all I can know anything about.

As for the AGFO, realizing that my own well wishing is not always as clean and pure as the Zen Monk’s, well, it’s part of my New Year’s, and ongoing work…cleaning up my act, living from the heart, embracing paradox, knowing that what I see outside, is what it living inside.  Wonder of wonders!

It remains to wish you a wonderful New Year, may it bring your heart’s desires, in the ways that really matter to you.  Unknown-2

In closing, I offer two prayers.  Both can act as Grace before a meal, or a reminder and blessing at any time of day or throughout the year: 

From a 7 year old friend:

Peace, Peace in my Heart, That is Where It’s Got to Start.”  

and from a brother in law, one full of unmitigated good will toward many:  

O God (Mystery, god, all that is), for daily bread, we give thanks.  To those who have bread, give hunger for justice, and to those who hunger, give bread.”


Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)

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