Beacons of Hope
There are certain people within your community that represent beacons of love, hope, positivity, and light. And whenever you see them, you feel their warm, genuine spirit wrap around your heart. Their presence alone immediately lifts your mood and makes you feel at ease. It’s like watching the sun emerge from the horizon. As the new day rises, the darkness of the night turns into a fiery orange flame of optimism and promise. You can count on these special people to make you smile, make you laugh, and encourage you to view life’s journeys with a new lens and an open heart.
A Surging Sunrise
Last week, I was having a particularly challenging time navigating some deep-rooted emotions about the pandemic and the traumatizing events unfolding in our country. I had not slept well the night before and pushed myself out of bed to accomplish my daily workout earlier than usual. I have been using this sacred time to be in my own headspace, reflect, regroup, and recharge so I can conquer the day with more clarity, determination, and strength. As I was in the midst of my workout, I was walking towards a surging sunrise that stretched across the bay; its glowing presence blazed and clung to the surface of the water, putting me into a dreamlike trance. I managed to capture the moment in a photo that symbolized the anticipation of a new day of listening, learning, and growth.
The sunrise I captured
Diverted Routes Can Lead to the Right Place
Later that day, my son Drew asked me to go on a bike ride. My initial thought was that I was exhausted from the combination of my lack of sleep, early morning workout, and other responsibilities from the day. But, my heart led me to say yes, as I knew that spending time with my son is always precious. I followed my son’s lead as we rode our bikes through the neighborhood. I made a mental note when he diverted from our usual route and wondered why. It turned out that I was happy he did because I ran into my friend and colleague Jay Spitz who was playing ball with his family outside of his house. Jay is someone I have known for many years. Most recently we developed a stronger connection as my husband had coached his son in baseball and basketball. We would sit on the sidelines and talk about life, work, our families…all while I would listen to him cheer on his son (“Way to go Harp!”) and all of the other kids during a game (even if they were on the opposing team). He always had a way of bringing positivity to any story or challenge. It was inevitable that he would offer me a compliment about my work, my son’s athletic abilities, and my husband’s coaching style. I loved seeing Jay walk onto the field or basketball court; his smile was uplifting, his words were empowering, and his energy, contagious. I immediately clenched the brakes on my bike and we embraced each other with a socially distanced greeting and smile. As his children danced around the front lawn, laughing and playing about, we talked about what life has been like the last couple of months and exchanged the trials and tribulations of homeschooling and remote learning. He mentioned how he had been tirelessly reaching out to all of his students and was concerned about their mental health and learning. During that time, I noticed that as I was lost in conversation, my son had disappeared on his bike and I needed to catch up with him. As I put my foot on the pedal and pushed myself forward to go, Jay wouldn’t let me leave without saying, “Hey Lauren, I love your posts. I follow your work. Please keep doing what you’re doing, but promise me that you will take a break too. Take a break Lauren.”
A Kind, Endearing Soul
Yesterday, I awoke to the news that Jay had passed away from complications during heart surgery. To say I am devastated, is an understatement. Upon reading the news on Facebook, I felt frozen in time, completely paralyzed in pain. I thought about his beautiful children, his wife, his family, his students, our colleagues, and all of the lives he has touched. I thought about our many conversations on the baseball field. I thought about how his physical presence will no longer exist in our community. To me, Jay was like the sunrise I had seen the very same morning we had last spoken. He WAS a beacon of hope, authenticity, sincerity, devotion, and love…a kind endearing soul. And just as the sunrise touched the bay that morning, his spirit will live on in the hearts of his family, friends, colleagues, and students. And yes, Jay, I promise to continue to work passionately, share my voice and post (I know you loved to see that), but I will also slow down and take a break. With each new day, a sunrise will emerge and the darkness will turn to light. I will always think of your kind loving soul and spirit and approach life’s journeys with an open heart and open mind.
Jay Spitz- a loving husband, father, friend, educator
Please take a moment to read one of Jay’s last Facebook posts. He shared George Carlin’s powerful words which may resonate with many of you during these difficult times in history….
SOMETHING TO PONDER: George Carlin
George Carlin’s wife died early in 2008 and George followed her, dying in July 2008. It is ironic George Carlin – comedian of the 70’s and 80’s – could write something so very eloquent and so very appropriate. An observation by George Carlin:
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.
Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.