Daily Reflection

“A lonely day is God’s way of saying that he wants to spend some quality time with you.” (Criss Jami)

Loneliness. Something I’ve felt quite a bit throughout the majority of my life. I used to think it came from the lack of love I often experienced growing up in an alcoholic family. But when I formed a new family with those who loved me unconditionally I still felt the same. I used to think it came from not being in the right intimate relationship as well. But after having been in a number of long-term committed relationships over the course of 25 years, I can say I still felt lonely during each of them too. I also used to think it came from not having enough friends, but even when I’ve been surrounded by them, I continued to feel lonely. I tried for years to fill that loneliness up with other things too like possessions, addictions, moving from place to place, jobs, and more. Each temporarily made me forget about it for brief interludes, only for it to eventually return. Because of this, I came to accept that there was no person, place, or thing on this planet that ever would fully take away that loneliness. Instead, I came to believe that my loneliness was all about me simply wanting to be home with God, wherever that is, from wherever I came from.

Why I say that is simply because I believe that wherever God is, is pure love and any time I’ve done something in this life that surrounds me living out pure, unconditional love, I’ve not felt as lonely. Like when I volunteer my time to help a suffering alcoholic or addict. Or when I sit down with any hurting individual and fully give them my attention and compassion. Or when I snuggle up with one of my cats and pet them. Or when I spend time in my gardens pruning the flowers. Or when I take a walk in the woods or on the beach. Or when I give someone a long embrace. Or when I share my addiction story to nursing classes or the Greek life at the University of Toledo. Or when I spend my mornings in deep prayer and tears. Or when I visit a sick friend at their home or hospital. I could go on.

The fact is, I do each of these things to deal with my loneliness, to overcome that constant longing to go home. And whenever I’m doing any of those things, I most definitely have felt far less alone and far more connected to something Greater, something full of a type of love that one day I trust I’ll fully be enveloped by again, where loneliness can’t exist. Until then, my solution to feeling loneliness is to find all the ways I can to offer unconditional love in the world, to others, and to myself, and to do them as often as I can. As only then, do I feel less lonely in a world where it’s so darn easy to feel that way.

Dear God, I pray You continue to help me find more and more ways to feel less alone, whether that’s with unconditionally loving time alone with just You and me, or time with others where I offer my unconditional love to them like You would. Either way, I know my loneliness will never fully go away in a life without You.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times, you grow. Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement. Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will be your strength and character. And be thankful for your mistakes, because they will teach you valuable lessons.” (Troy Amdhal)

Quote #2

“Being thankful is not always experienced as a natural state of existence, we must work at it, akin to a type of strength training for the heart.” (Larissa Gomez)

Quote #3

“Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

Bonus Quote

“While we cry ourselves to sleep, gratitude waits patiently to console and reassure us that there is a landscape larger than the one we can see.” (Sarah Ban Breathnach)

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another week’s entry of Grateful Heart Monday, a time for gratitude, something I truly believe this world needs to focus a lot more on right now, rather than on what needs to change in the world to make their lives better. Because frankly, what I’ve learned is the only thing that needs to change for me to live in peace and harmony in this world is me and my attitudes. That’s why for today, I want to talk about something I can’t believe I’m going to say I’m grateful for. That being COVID-19.

Ok, ok, before you end up overreacting, asking yourself how anyone can be grateful for this pandemic, let me explain. The tragedy of this pandemic, the loss of life, and the utter disregard at times for human decency and respect towards each other that seems to be happening throughout these turbulent times is something I have great sadness over and something that makes it very hard to be grateful for anything right now. But, that’s precisely why I felt the need to go deeper and ask myself a really tough question. Is there anything ultimately good coming out of this pandemic, in my life, in those around me, and in the world in general?

Look, I know how easy it is to focus on all the things that feel so upside down in our world right now due to COVID-19. I could create a long list. Yet, at the same time, I find myself being far more compassionate and in touch with my heart lately. Something that tragedy (like from a pandemic) has always driven me to delve deeper into. My capacity for unconditional love seems to be growing a lot lately. And in a world that often feels loveless and needs more love, this pandemic feels like it’s been helping me to become someone who’s more heart connecting and unifying than I ever was before. Case in point, just last week I found myself talking to someone who was truly having a difficult day and feeling on edge. In the midst of them expressing their frustration, I could feel their sadness below it all. So, I reached into it, caressed it, and somehow found the words and tears needed to express just how much I truly loved them. It most definitely made a difference. Prior to this pandemic, I probably would have just offered unsolicited advice and opinions that did nothing but cause them greater frustration.

Another observation I’ve made during this pandemic that’s brought me a feeling of gratitude is more with those around me. Something I’ve seen quite a bit going on is the return to spending more time at home with family and loved ones. So often, we as human beings have kept ourselves so darn busy. We were always racing from here to there and missing out on precious moments of time with those we love. Having much of the things we normally would occupy life with be limited due to COVID-19 has led to far more family get-togethers, game nights, movie nights, bonfires, and other private times that in the past might not have happened at all or rarely happened due to so many other obligations. I actually have found great joy in driving around and seeing the many small circles of chairs at people’s homes sitting around fires and such, conversating, laughing, and connecting, something that felt grossly lacking prior to this pandemic. Many of those I know in recovery who have kids have spent a lot more time with them, which I know down the road will end up being priceless memories for all of them.

One last observation I’ve made during this pandemic that also brings me quite possibly the greatest sense of gratitude is more with the world in general than anything else. As the world sits and awaits a COVID-19 free existence, there has most definitely been a shift going on that’s exposing all the racism, prejudice, inequality, and dishonesty that’s been hidden under the radar for so long. Maybe we needed to have something like COVID-19 place it’s dark mark upon our world to force the truth out, a truth that has long been brushed under the carpet time and time again? The truth that many of us haven’t or didn’t want to see, that all haven’t been treated fair and equal, for a very long time, something ALL of us deserve, no matter what our sex, race, religion, sexuality, etc.

So, as I end today’s slice of gratitude from my life, I want you to know one last thing. I’m a firm believer that everything in the world that happens, COVID-19 and all, has a greater purpose, one our egos may never be able to understand. In the long run, maybe this pandemic is somehow shifting all of us from places of darkness and into places of greater light? And in light of me saying that, as COVID-19 continues to ravage our planet in so many difficult and challenging ways, I choose to remain grateful that we all will come out on top of this, with more open hearts, closer connections, and greater unconditional love for each other, no matter what walk of life we come from. And that alone is why I felt it necessary to dedicate today’s Grateful Heart Monday to COVID-19 of all things…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson