December 4, 2009
To my dear Goddaughter, Olivia:
By now, I am guessing that you think your parents know absolutely nothing about anything. This is perfectly normal.
You are feeling full and vital and able to do anything, right now. If your parents have done their jobs right, you should feel capable of doing anything you set your mind to.
Revel in that feeling! Act on it!
You will never get from any other person the kind of unconditional love that your Mom and Dad have for you. No one – no other man or woman – will love you as much as they do – hard as that may be to believe from time to time.
At 18, you probably have already learned that the world can be a cruel place.
You will find others who will go out of their way to make you hate them. No matter what others do or say to you, no matter how hard they try to make you hate them, how mean they are to you, how badly they behave towards you –you will always have the capacity to love them. This is deep within you and is as infinite as space. It is always, always, always your choice to love, to forgive, and no one can ever take that away, or diminish your capacity to love even more fully.
All the great faiths of this world point to the same sacred source of life for their strength. I pray in time you will recognize this more and more and in turn, realize your kinship with the whole world. May you expand all your worship experiences and find God in each breath of every living being on this planet. May you find God in the whispering winds, as Ezekiel did.
Embrace the mysticism of your faith, Olivia, and never be ashamed to proclaim that your greatest faith is often in things that are not explainable at all, except in the quiet whispers of your own heart. It is what we don’t see but still experience that is most often truest.
Take time at college to cultivate a habit of solitude, for it will serve you well in this culture that thrives on distraction and noise. It will bring you peace and perspective. Never stop learning. Never stop moving, never stop trying to discover the many facets of who you are.
Pray constantly and learn that prayer is not just uttering words, but can be the act of listening too: to a friend in need, to yourself. Be forgiving to yourself first and foremost. It will be easier to forgive others. You have a pure heart and no amount of wrong-doing will ever change that.
Have fun. Make lots of mistakes. Admit when you are wrong. Never be afraid to laugh at yourself. Know that even the hurtful times that will come are important too, and you should not avoid them, just because they hurt. (You will learn the most about yourself!)
Nothing remains the same – neither the good times, nor the bad. Savor the sadness in that fact, but enjoy its virtue as well and remember this when times are bad.
It is only through serving others that you will find out who you really are.
Bring love fully into this world for that is what you were made for. You are a miracle – made in love to bring love and light into this world.
Follow your heart in all things and you will never be disappointed. You may get hurt, but you will never be disappointed. Learn that being lonely is not the great enemy people will suggest to you that it is. Know that loneliness is nothing more than a hunger to find God, however you perceive him or her to be.
Be faithful to your friends and family and also to yourself. Protect those who are weaker than yourself. Be honest, always, hard as that is, but always be compassionate for others and for yourself.
Know that you are so very important.
Befriend the scared and uncertain parts of you. Love the brash and the loud, the shy and the quiet parts of you. Remember to dance as often as you can. Sing constantly.
Always forgive. Always. No exceptions.
I pray that when you read this, you will feel that you have so much to be grateful for. Be grateful for each morning – the fact that the sun rises, we wake, and we greet the daylight is nothing short of a miracle.