Posts Tagged ‘journey’

Of Empaths and Collateral Beauty

December 31, 2016

I want to talk about the movie Collateral Beauty, but I want to start with another piece of recent pondering in order to lead into the movie.

If I recall it was just about a year ago now a friend asked me the question while we were on retreat, “Are you an empath?” I do not remember the exact context of the conversation at the time, but I remember having to ask what that referred to as I had never heard the term before, other than assuming it had something to do with empathy. She explained that empaths have a sense about them and can take on others pain, joy, struggle, and emotions and/or are especially sensitive to positive or negative energy in a room.

I came home after the retreat and looked up empath and read numerous articles, blogs, and journals about those who identify themselves as such. The articles spanned a wide array of theories and abilities, some for my more practical and skeptical self, seemed a little bizarre, but many of the articles I resonated with deeply in my being and experience. Here is one of the articles I found helpful in my readings, found in Psychology Today.

Some days I can feel like the whole weight of the world is on my shoulders and I have a difficult time shaking the funk so to speak. When I walk in a hospital room when a family is struggling with difficult news and making difficult decisions I can often feel an almost physical heaviness, a tangible distress in my body. Even in other places, the office, a social gathering, dinner with friends, or when it is just TrweepingbuddhauDee and I, there is an energy, presence, whatever one may call it, that is often palpable. I believe this is one reason I found such connection with the image of the Weeping Buddha from the first time I saw it and read the legend behind the figure. Here is a link to the legend of the Weeping Buddha, if you are interested,

Now to the movie, if you are reading this and wondering, “What the heck?” hang with me I’ll make the connection shortly. TruDee and I went to see the movie Collateral Beauty last night. The movie, in every review I have read has been panned, by some critics as the worst movie of 2016. Now, I know I am not a professional critic and evidently do not look for the same things as those who make a living watching movies, but I found the movie moving, meaningful, and deep.

One critic said the movie failed at answering the question of “What is collateral beauty.” I would agree, the movie is not clear on exactly what it is or what it means. Being the pondering kind of person I am, such a critique does not disturb me. I have no problem with stories, movies, and books that leave me hanging trying to wrestle out the meaning for myself. Heck, I have at the foundation of my vocation a book I have spent fifty seven years wrestling out the meaning in the bible!

I am not going to give any spoilers in this writing but I want to make a brief connection between my pondering of one who has identified with the empaths of the world and what came to me in the movie Collateral Beauty. I have been on a soul and self-searching journey this past year. With the help of a counselor, and a long distance friend, I have resolved some pieces of my journey I did not realize needed resolved. One major difference for me is the Christmas season, every Christmas Season I always have a day, I even named it, my Melancholy Day. I never know when it is going to hit me, but in the midst of the celebrations I have a day when grief overwhelms me and I find it difficult to function. This year, it never came, or at least not at this writing now six days post-Christmas. I believe that while I still have those moments of deep connection of struggle and joy, the day never came because of an intentional attempt to move my focus.

What I found in the movie, was depth and peace. No it did not answer the question of collateral beauty other than to suggest it had to do with connection. I found the movie beautiful, difficult, emotional, and fodder for much contemplation. What I came away with was this, and I think it is very timely at least for me, in this world, in our country, in our state, in our churches, there is so much pain, fear, hate, discrimination, uncertainty, and incivility we have a choice. While these things cause me, and so many others, concern, anger, and fear, in the midst of so much Collateral Damage, I have to choose not to miss the Collateral Beauty. The movie did not answer the question because this beauty will be different for all of us, we will find it in different ways, in different places, in different people, but I must be intentional about seeking it out and allow it to feed and nurture my passion and work in the world, otherwise, like Howard in the movie, the damage of negativity, suffering, grief, hate, and xenophobia will consume me and drive me deep into that ever darkening spiral of hopeless despair, especially for one who connects as an empath in the world. I highly recommend this movie, take some tissues with you.

So, as I close this writing, let me say on this last day of 2016, look for, seek out, be unrelenting in your search for beauty on your path, in your world, in each and every one you encounter, it may be what ultimately saves our world, saves ourselves.

If I were to make a New Year’s Resolution, though it is not what I am calling this, it would  be to continue my journey, as best I can, from moment to moment, seeking out undauntedly the beauty of everything, everything. I know 2016 has been a difficult year, but in the coming year, embrace beauty my friends, you are enough, you are beautiful, you are not alone, I love you… and together … may we make 2017 beautiful and filled with grace, justice, compassion, and love.

Here is to Beauty and Hope –




May 11, 2015


I have had the opportunity to be even more ponderous over the last week than usual. TruDee and I had the opportunity to take a little time away in the mountains of Colorado and enjoy a wonderful setting in the cottage of friends Bruce and Vickie. Our first morning I rose and wandered downstairs to find coffee and a little quiet after my morning walk. I started a pot of coffee and opened the cupboard to find coffee cups with peace signs. “Cool,” I thought.

I poured a cup and went to the front porch and sat in the cool Colorado air to ponder. Peace I thought, there are a multitude of thoughts on peace, as I sat and considered the sign on my cup. There is a lot going on in the world today that might disturb one’s peace, at least it seems to keep mine stirred up. There was something deep inside that morning that called to me as I considered the sign on my cup.

Two quotes came to mind, one from Leo Tolstoy, “Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinkhs of changing themselves.” It’s true, there are days I so want to change what I and so many others see as wrong with the world around us, but perhaps the first step is to consider oneself, if my own peace is not intact, how am I going to be able to affect meaningful change and peace in the world around me? “Good question,” I said to myself.

The other thought that came to mind is from the Dalai Lama, “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” There will always be conflict, disagreement, and difference. How we engage such conflict and disagreement is fundamental to how we remain at peace within and how we further peace in the world around us.

Being mindful of my own inner peace in each moment remains a challenge, though a constant goal in my life. How do I keep that ever before me and not get distracted by my own willingness to allow others and circumstances to distract and disturb? It’s a good question I suppose and one that remains along the journey of life and community.

Each morning I filled my “Peace Cup,” and pondered, meditated, reflected, and read on what it means to maintain my own sense of peace. In some sense it seemed easy to do when I did not have the television on, read the paper, or listen to the news. It was just me, TruDee, the mountains, a cup of coffee, and a couple of friendly squirrels that wondered why I was on their porch.

All this to say, I will be back in the office tomorrow, refreshed and renewed in the cause of promoting justice, kindness, love, and peace in the world around me. Restored, if you will, with a new sense of the peace of being present in the world in which I live. And with a token that has traveled with me from the mountains of Colorado by the generosity of our friends, the cup that journeyed with me last week rests here at my computer’s side as a visual reminder to be at peace, here and now. I hope you’ll join me on this journey of peace.

It is one of the many ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the community. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church. Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.

Peace and Light on Your Journey,
Pastor Kent

Pace Yourself

March 9, 2010

   I have been looking forward to more Spring-like weather. This last week was a welcome change from the cold and wind that we have been having. The other day the temperature was up in the high fifties maybe into the sixties. Simeon and I took off on our walk, it was a beautiful day and a good day to get back into the walking and exercise routine.
   I decided to walk down to the sandpit and around, Simeon likes to go to the pit because there are so many “things” to investigate … some “things” I wish he would not be quite so curious of but be enjoys the run when I turn him loose there.
   We arrived at the pit and when we were away from the main road I unhooked his leash and away he went! Every now and then for his own exercise benefit I would reach down and pick up a stick and heave it to the bottom of the pit and Simeon dutifully charges down the side of the pit and then back up to the road to my side for a moment and “sometimes” he actually brings the stick back!
   We have been used to walking in the cold and I have never been sure whether the cold walks actually wear him down or just soup him up. Sometimes when we get back from our walk on a cold day he seems more energetic than when we left, but this day would be different. As he charged up and down the slope of the pit and out away from me, back and forth it seemed to me he was starting to slow down a bit. We were about three quarters the way around the pit when I realized I had not seen him for a few minutes so I whistled and called to him. I turn around to see him sitting in the middle of the road behind me, frothing at the mouth, panting furiously, and tongue hanging almost to the ground… he was tuckered out!
   It is good to pace yourself on this journey of life, as we run the race with perseverance. When we read our sacred texts we often find Jesus going off to a quiet place to rest and pray. We can get so caught up in what we are doing, where we are going, the things we need to get done, the people we need to see, that we can find ourselves sitting in the middle of the road of life and not be able to carry on, tired, worn down, worn out… it is good to take time, to rest, to “BE” in the presence of God and to let that Spirit renew and refresh us for the journey.
   I do not know if Simeon learned this lesson I found in his run that day. I suppose he will continue to run full out until he gets used to the warmer weather, until then I will take note and at least try to pace myself and be mindful of the Spirit of the Divine in my midst along the Way, I pray you do the same.