poetry No Comments »

When we no longer see
war, murder, rape,
rapacity and corruption,
hunger and theft,
angst and empty pockets,
disease and death…
as scenes on television~
something which we can
mindlessly and simply
change the channel…

When we can say the words
‘Sorry for your loss’
as something more
than a cluster of vacant
phonetic sounds…

When we are able to stare
into the abyss of agony,
and feel the pain of others,
as the bile rises
into our collective throats …

When we can step inside
the chests of mothers, fathers
brothers and sisters,
aunts and uncles
and the anesthetic
of self wears off….

When our eyes widen
with an electric jolt
and our synapses fire
and jump at the senselessness
and apathy of living as me…
only then can we regain
our amazing state of grace…

And only when our courage
grows greater
than our greed
and state of fear,
will the vast absence residing
in the hole of hate
refill itself
with that which we are born~

Repetition of good intentions
will lose their hollow echoes,
when our actions outside
the cathedrals, mosques
and synagogues on the Sabbath
follow us beyond those doors~

Then we will penetrate
each other’s souls
and sense the warmth
of one’s hand
inside another’s
and know
divine connection
with a vibrant shiver.

nannette rogers kennedy
January 2012

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Dinner for One

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Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret…Robert Brault

Several years ago, I managed a Colorado restaurant.  One particular evening, around dusk, customers filled the dining room despite the heavy falling snow.  Several staff members were unable to get to work due to the weather.  As a result I waited on tables, too.

I watched as the host sat a tall, thin man at a table in another waiter’s section.  The customer’s unshaven face looked drawn and his nose red with cold.  He wore tattered jeans—wet around the bottoms—and an old dirty overcoat—underdressed for a restaurant with candles and cloths,

The few waiters and waitresses complained that the man was a waste of time and flipped a quarter to see who would lose and have to serve him.

“What is the matter with all of you?” I said. “I will take care of him.”

The man kept his eyes lowered to the menu and traveled a spindly finger down the items: Bouillabaisse, Mozzarella & Romas, Arugula Artichoke Salad, Iced Oysters in Rainbow Shells

Spinach & Roasted Beets…

“Good evening sir,” I said as I looked into the tired, dark eyes of the man.

“I foresee a good night,” said the man. “I’m thirsty for a bottle of wine, yes this one.”  He looked up into my eyes and with a perfect French pronunciation, he smiled and said, “The Beaujolais Village .”

The man removed his coat, tapped the wine label on the list and I leaned into see exactly which Beaujolais the man wanted. The odor of unbathed skin reached my nose.  I started thinking about the man’s secret, what it was that I didn’t see.

He added, “Please bring two glasses,” then briskly rubbed his hands together.

I returned, opened the bottle and offered a taste of wine to the man.  He held the glass up, swirled the liquid to observe its legs and then sipped the wine, letting it roll over every taste bud on his tongue.

“Yes, yes. This is good,” he said as he took the bottle from my hand and poured wine into the second glass.  “Don’t let me toast alone.”

He handed me the other glass.

“Here’s to warmth tonight,” he said and then we tapped glasses and drank to warmth.

“What can I bring you this evening?” I asked, wondering what the man meant when they toasted to warmth.

“I can order everything right now–the African Lobster Tails, the Arugula & Artichoke Salad, the Prosciutto-wrapped tenderloin, medium rare, and a baked potato dripping in butter.”

“You must be hungry tonight,” I said.

He nodded, “Oh and please bring all the food at once.”

The man arranged the plates on the table, admiring it all before eating as though observing a piece of art.  He then savored every bite of food, with impeccable manners all along.

After clearing the plates from the table, I offered dessert, but the man declined and grabbed my hand. “Thank you for everything and now I want you to do one more thing for me.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I’ve had some tough times lately.”  The man stood, put on his overcoat and turned up its collar.  He looked at the floor and then nearly whispered, “I have no money and I won’t be paying the bill.  So as soon as I walk out the door, call the police~”

I interrupted him, teetering between sadness and feeling afraid.  “I can take care of the meal for you, write it off, help you out~”

“I’ll be walking south down the street where the police can pick me up.”  He shook his spindly finger at me, “Remember you joined me in the toast for warmth and this will get me that~you will be helping me out.”

With that the man turned away from me, looked over his shoulder and mouthed “thank you.”  He walked through the dining room, out the front door and headed south on the now dark and snow-covered street.  I watched through the window, wavering back and forth on what to do.  I, watched him walk for a few moment before I picked up the phone.

nannette rogers kennedy 2011

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Open Heart ~

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I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys~
Charles Dickens

And let us consent and intend to keep our hearts open throughout the entire year and remember we are all fellow passengers, one human family, that we are all One. And in loving one another and really following the golden rule (which is present in every religion on the planet) we can make a difference round the world ~ nannette

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Is it Worth It?

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What is it inside of us that makes us instinctively do some of the things we do? If we, for instance, see a small child fall off their bike or drowning in a swimming pool, we automatically, without taking the time to think “Is it worth it?” move to help or save the child in need. I would say that we are born “wired” this way. If we do not naturally react in this way, we have somehow “unlearned” the innate compassion of Oneness, Unity and Connection that is born within every one of us.

There is much talk today about Oneness, Unity, Connection, Coexisting, Being Spiritual, Loving Everyone, etc. For some these are just words that are generally understood, or seen as an almost ethereal “out there” concept that is just “out of our reach.” If we have forgotten our connection to one another there is a way to remember.

And I promise you that there is only ONE thing that changes when you shift the way you think about everyone on the planet and that is EVERYthing. You will be amazed how your life seems to flow, how you seem to move with the flow, and how without even knowing it, you will change the lives of others around you.

When you begin to live from a place of Oneness, Unity, Connection, etc., (leaving behind patterns of living in a “me” world of “it’s only about me and my life” to a “we” world that really understands our connection to each other, and the pebble in the water metaphor) it will be quite natural for you to open the door for someone else, to pick up something that someone has dropped, to stop and help someone change a tire. In fact, it will become quite unnatural for you to simply walk by without the thought of helping, just as unnatural as ignoring a child in need.

Just the other day I was in the grocery store when a young college student knocked over an entire grocery display. The young man’s face was as red as a tomato as he stooped down to begin picking up the dozens and dozens of packages off the floor. Immediately, my son and I began to help him put the display back together. I told the young man about the time I pulled a lemon out of display and hundreds of lemons collapsed and rolled into 45 different directions. He smiled instantly.

We so often feel alone in benign circumstances such as these and even though we know intellectually that we are NOT the only person that has ever experienced such a blunder, at that moment, it feels like we are the ONLY one. The minute I shared my story with this college student, you could tell a difference in the way he felt, the way he looked. There is a quote I love ~ Friendship doubles our joys and divides our sorrows (unknown). In this moment, the college student and I became friends. This is living in Oneness ~

It did not cross my mind to NOT help in this situation. It was automatic. Another appropriate quote comes to mind, one that is in every religious philosophy on the planet ~ Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The trick is to REMEMBER this golden rule. And trust me, the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Stick a note with this rule on your bathroom mirror, in your car, on your computer and even make a bumper sticker ~ get the word out to help remind others.

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Well, what if I cannot help? What if my daughter is waiting for me to pick her up? What if I’m not feeling well? What if the problem is happening half way across the world, like the recent earthquakes?” I love what Wayne Dyer says about this: “Everything is perfect in the universe – even your desire to improve it.” This implies that even your desire to want to help, though you may be unable to physically help for whatever reason, is a positive action and will raise not only your own energy, but the energy of those around you.  And there is always the power of prayer and meditation.

If you are questioning the entire concept of Oneness, Unity, Connection, etc., because you aren’t sure you believe that we are all inextricably connected, then you must visit National Geographic’s The Human Family Tree ( ). National Geographic’s study called The Genographic Project ( ). A National Geographic Team took hundreds and hundreds of DNA samples to create their study showing how we really are all connected. “Where do you really come from? And how did you get to where you live today? DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who—about 60,000 years ago—began a remarkable journey.” You cannot get to the end of this movie without a sense of awe and seeds of remembering and awakening.

Is this about God, Buddha, Allah, The Source of all that is, Christ, a higher power? That is up to you. It matters not what you call it. It only matters that you re-awaken to the idea that we are all of the same infinite life source. An ancient Hindu proverb says: There are many paths to the mountain top. It matters not which path you take, so long as you take one. This implies there is only One destination, and for me and many, many others, that destination is the realization that we are all One.

Show that you have hope and faith that we, as a planet, can and will make it. If you have not signed the petition, please sign Humanity’s Team Oneness Day Petition ( stating that we are all connected. In May 2010, Humanity’s Team Global Council will present this petition to the United Nations so that an official day of Oneness will be recognized the world over.

Make Oneness, Unity, Connection, The Human Family, INSTINCT.

Is it worth it?


Nannette Kennedy

March 25, 2010
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Putting Away Christmas

essay, non-fiction 4 Comments »

red bowWhat’s with those of who hesitate, drag our feet, nearly refuse to “put away” Christmas?

I’m a member of this group.  And as I drove up to the store last night, I saw several homes remaining in ornamental light mode.  Some with just a tree or two in the yard lit, others “loudly” announcing Christmas with nativity scenes, Santa, reindeer, snowmen.  We don’t want the holiday feeling to go away.

My Christmas tree still holds all of its regalia in its branches.  A couple of days ago a friend let me know that she had just “unplugged” the lights on her tree ~ a start, she said.  Promptly, I walked into my dining room and took down the wreath.  I put away a wintry holiday snow globe yesterday.  Today I will begin to box up the ornaments. This got me to thinking that “dedecorating” might feel better as a process for people like us.

When most of us decorate, we set aside one day and transform our homes with not only nativity scenes, the tree, and endless stands of lights, but also with wreathes, mistletoe, garland, red ribbons, candles and gingerbread houses.  Within a matter of hours our homes change into our own personal magical kingdoms.  The air is different, the energy dances, sweet smells waft from our kitchens and smiles grow broader across our faces.

Of course if we leave up all the décor year round, then we would get used to it and the “magic” would fade.  But what if we systematically took down the decorations a little bit at a time so as to reacclimate into non holiday mode?  Well, I’ll keep you posted, because that is what we are doing this year.  The family has decided to do a little putting away each day instead of seeing the dramatic stark disappearance of the season.

The question remains though: How do we stay living in the season throughout the year?  Hark! I think the herald angels continue to sing.  Don’t store away your kindness, your sense of giving, love and gratitude with the décor in plastic tubs until next year.  I do, and have for the past several years left white lights (year round) outlining the large front window in my house~happy lights~happy reminder.


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Quote Recipe for 2010

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quotesRemember what the airlines say~Put the oxygen mask on yourself first~

1. Drink eight glasses of water a day~heath practitioners everywhere

2. All happiness depends on a [leisurely] breakfast~John Gunther

3. An apple a day keeps the doctor away~anon

4. If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough~Meister Eckhart

6. It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes~St. Thomas Aquinas

7. The more that you read, the more things you will know~Dr. Seuss

8. If you are doing mindfulness meditation, you are doing it with your ability to attend to the moment~Daniel Goleman

9. If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking.  Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk~Raymond Inmon

10.Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together~Thomas Dekker

Personal Growth

11. Be grateful for what you have~not envious for what you want~anon

12. If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought~Mildred Lisette Norman

13. Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened~Dr.Seuss

14. Twelve laughs a day keep the doc away~Mary-Anne Reed

15. If you have nothing kind to say, don’t say it at all~all moms

16. Dream more while you are awake~anon

17. Sometimes you have to let go to see if there was anything worth holding on to~Unknown

18. Find something to love in everyone~anon

19. No one is in charge of your happiness except you~anon

20. Realize there is a gift in every moment ~ even the obstacles~anon

21. Whether you say you can or you can’t, you are right ~unknown

22. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but you can agree to see things differently~anon

Your human family

23. Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born~Anais Nin

24. Each day do something good for another~anon.

25. Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die~Unknown

26. What other people think of you is none of your business~W.Dyer


27. And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years~Abraham Lincoln

28. Declutter~anon.

29. Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’~Yoda

30. Allow the best days of your past to be the worst days of your future~anon

31. We Are all One ~ me and many, many many others ~


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New Year’s Eve is Like Every Other Night

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2010New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

With great gratitude to all my friends and family for being part of my life this year, years before and years to come ~ for each one of you have brought me gifts that without, I would not be who I am.

Let this be the year that marks the beginning of real peace. Begin at home, then to take it to your neighbors and friends ~ if each us does this all the circles will overlap and we will see change in 2010 ~ every day is a holiday; every day is a new start. Get out of bed in the morning and greet the world with hope, love and peace ~ and every night be grateful for all that you have ~ and the hours in between learn to forgive ~ it is a double gift.

Happy New Year ~ love, nannette

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It’s a Wonderful Life

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Dec 23 09 006If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. Meister Eckhart

The journey of the holidays, the season of love, the start of a new year, the path of life is now. No matter what your particular tradition is, the energy is undeniable. If you are wrapping gifts, preparing a meal, building a fire, playing a game with your children, holding your partner’s hand, remember to open your heart and prepare to give and receive. As Yoda says, “Do or do not… there is no try.” Choose to do. These are the things of which memories are made. Make the memories good ones.

Pay attention to each precious moment, love all who come your way, live with purpose. Remember you are sacred and unique~ just as when Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, wishes he’d never born and Clarence the Angel grants him his wish, everything changes. Each moment is extraordinary. Savor these small increments of your wonderful life. Without you in the mix, nothing remains the same.

Remember, you are always on the journey of the holidays, the season of love, the path of life. It is always now ~Live in the season~

I am grateful for my followers on twitter, my friends on facebook, and all my family & friends.

Love & peace, nannette

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Serendipity (conclusion)

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The next morning, Sunday, I had an eight-thirty seminar. I didn’t care. I was going to the rosary instead. At 6 wayneda.m. my eyes opened without the use of the alarm. I showered, dressed, had a cup of coffee, pulled the rosary from the bottom of my computer bag and headed off to the lobby. I couldn’t find Immaculee anywhere. Instant disappointment. I scrambled my way to the front desk and asked about it. Nobody knew anything. They referred me to the registration desk for the conference. I asked the women at the conference registration desk who all looked at me like I was some kind of nut. I explained that this was an impromptu sort of thing arranged late last night. One of the women got on a walkie-talkie and someone radioed back that Immaculee was meeting with some people in the bar. I took off running and laughing at the fact that this rosary was taking place in a bar.

When I arrived there were about fifteen women sitting on couches and chairs around Immaculee. There was one space left on one couch. I promptly sat. Immaculee was answering some questions regarding her experience during the genocide. Then she passed out copies of information about the rosary. By now it was eight-thirty and the group had dwindled (people left to get to their seminars). Immaculee explained the rosary itself, holding up her rosary. My eyes almost popped out of my head. Other than the fact her rosary was clear crystal beads (mine are blue crystal) our rosaries were identical, same crucifix—an unusual crucifix—and everything. While I’m fairly certain this rosary I held came from my mother’s home, I’m not sure just how it came to be in my computer bag.

When the prayer/meditation of the rosary eventually got underway, Immaculee interjected throughout the meaning of the sorrowful mysteries. From the time we made the sign of the cross at the beginning until the sign of the cross at the end I wept. It was like someone turned on a faucet. I wasn’t heaving or hysterical, but tears kept a slow steady trickle down my face. The small space we sat in had such an incredible spiritual energy that it is beyond any words. As we prayed I noticed we were now down to eight, the exact same number of women who spent 91 days in the bathroom in Rwanda together. It was so powerful. I had no Kleenex with me and at one point I stood and walked over to the closed bar to grab a napkin or two—no napkins. I’d asked the women on either side of me if they had a Kleenex and they did not. Consequently the dress I was wearing served as sponge. When we finished the rosary, I hugged and thanked Immaculee. I bought a cup of coffee, walked outside, and sat by the pool. It was Sunday morning, early still, and I was the only one there. The following is my immediate written response:

November 13, 2005

Chills surround me from my feet to my head even though it is probably seventy-five degrees out here. I’ve just said the most powerful rosary with Immaculee from Rwanda. To feel in my heart even the secondhand pain this woman has endured and her glowing energy of forgiveness is so much for me to take in and accept that the emotion has risen to the point which my body cannot contain it. My cry comes from deep within and cannot help from spilling down my face and on to my breasts, where I can feel my heart pounding beneath. I have no Kleenex now, nor did I during the rosary. The tears are so deep. Immaculee has suffered so much, spending 91 days in 3 x 5 bathroom with seven other women, going in weighing 120 pounds and leaving the tiny cubicle weighing only 65 pounds. Her father, mother and brothers were hacked to death with machetes—ethnic cleansing. I do not understand this hatred. She said the rosary everyday, several times a day, with the rosary her father gave her when she fled into hiding, and she knows that her love of Christ and God are the reason she survived. Every time she got to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” part of the Our Fathers, she stopped as she says she always does whenever she says the rosary because she doesn’t know how she could ever forgive those that trespassed against her family, but she knows she did. How powerfully beautiful for her to be able to say the rosary at all, but to say it with an honest knowing of those words, and to be reminded each time she professes this part of the prayer that she does know the true meaning. It’s beyond my scope of comprehension. She begged and prayed for God’s favor and had a faith that willed it so. While she led the rosary with the seven of us, every one of us cried. I have no rights to complain. Just before the sorrowful mystery of Christ carrying the cross, Immaculee said, looking into each of our eyes, “What we must remember is that Christ carried His cross under such painful conditions,” she paused and began to cry. “What we must remember, is that God, Christ, do not want us to cry, but rather remember that Christ died for us, and that all of us make sacrifices, and that we are very connected. We are all one as is evidenced by our tears.” I will never be the same person as I was yesterday, never. And here I sit beneath a gorgeous blue sky, bathed in sunlight, sobbing into a pool towel. Oh my God, thank you, thank you, thank you. Immaculee, bless you and thank you.

Not one day has passed since this event that I haven’t thought about it. The Prime Mover conducts such extraordinary symphonies. While I know the music is ubiquitous, it is in hearing each note and listening for its significance to the entire piece which creates the spiritual encounter. I am forever grateful, blessed and fortunate.

My daughter is still talking about her experience at the conference. She too, believes she has had a true awakening.

mmiI have shared this experience with a dozen people. I even bought the recording of the night’s lecture and transcribed it so I could read parts of it to those with whom I have shared my story. The beauty is that everyone has thanked me for sharing and I feel I have made a positive impact on their lives. One elderly gentleman, that I didn’t really even know with whom I shared the story, wept and told me that I was the best thing that had happened to him in a long time, and that that in itself was a gift I must carry on: be the best thing that happens in some one’s life every day for the rest of my life. That’s a good goal, don’t you think?

While I’ve written a thank you to both Dr. Dyer and Immaculee, the best thanks I can give to them, is to tell this story and attempt to spread the inspiration. I hope it inoculates you with just a fraction of the spiritual energy it gave me.

Nannette Rogers Kennedy
Fort Collins, Colorado

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Serendipity (part 4)

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Immaculee Ilibagiza: Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you for your kind welcome. I know my story is a sad story, but it has been a story that gave me experience of great spiritual growth and different understanding of how what really matters in life. So I am really grateful for what happened and what I’ve learned from that experience. When I met Wayne, [she is speaking to Wayne Dyer here] thank you so much for giving me this chance to share my story, I read his [Wayne Dyer’s] books and I listened to his tapes, I kept asking myself why someone like this wasn’t in my country before the genocide because it was all we needed for people not to think about the killing. So what I mean is, I hope you know what gift you have to have people like him teaching what he teaches.

Like he told you, I was on Easter vacation, home and we heard that the president died. My parents and my brothers who loved me very much, I was their only daughter. They insisted that I go to hide with a Hutu neighbor they trusted. I went to him and told him what my parents told me. He took me to the bathroom in his bedroom and I found there seven other women. We were eight. The space was a little smaller than this table. We sat there and were told not to say a word, not to make a noise, because if anyone knows we are there, they would call the killers. He told us he won’t even tell his own children. We were happy for his generosity. All day long we were listening to a radio which was next door in his room. All the news was talking about was how to kill Tutsis. They say to kill children, not to forget the women, old people, that they had to cleanse the country. That was said by the new president who had just taken over. The ministers, the whole country was just going crazy. They killed in public places, even in churches and then they started to say on the radio, encouraging all the Hutus to go to each house and search to see if there is any Tutsis hiding.

Then they came to our home. I looked surprised. I remember I was stretching and I saw through a curtain of a small window. I saw outside like three hundred people. I fell down. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t talk. They started searching. I had the rosary that my father had given me when we were separated. I just started to pray. I couldn’t remember for a minute any words really, in my mouth. I was so scared. I could not even tell you how much you feel when you have to experience something like that when you know people are five inches away looking for you, and if they find you, they will kill you. They searched everywhere in the house, in the ceiling, in the top of the house, in every room, they went under the beds. They opened every suit case, saying that maybe babies are hiding there. I was so scared.

I was talking to God. That was my only refuge. I begged him to save me. There was no choice. I didn’t want to die . . . I kept saying that if you say that if we ask, You will give. This is the one thing I am asking you in the world. Please make it happen that they don’t find us . . . I was really praying so hard. I remember, and I don’t really know if this was my imagination or my mind, but it was almost like a vision. I saw Jesus standing with us and heard Jesus say, ‘I know you are praying so hard. Don’t worry. I will put a cross in front of the door. And no one will ever come across.’ I saw the cross. It was almost like I was helping Him put the cross on the door. I stood out of my body and I was feeling like a spirit, and pushed the cross on the door. I was happy. I knew that we were protected. And after that I could see the cross. It was a cross of light . . . There was just a light. I was happy and a few hours later, the killers left. The only room they didn’t search: it was that bathroom. The pastor came back two hours later and said that they would come back many times. We didn’t know when they would come back. It was so painful to wait, because we heard them singing all day long outside. And any time they passed by, we thought they were coming for us. I heard so many voices in my mind, so many bad thoughts of how I was going to die. That was the only pictures that were going through my mind. How they were going to rape me, how they were going to cut my hands and my head. Just the thoughts were so heavy, so poisonous to my body without anyone touching me, and I was asking God I just wish these thoughts can stop, but I couldn’t help it.

That was the moment I think I heard an angel make a suggestion to me. It was the best decision I ever took in my life. I told myself, maybe if I pray every minute of my life of the day, these thoughts might be able to shut down. It was such good idea. I told myself: okay, I’m going to do it. As soon as I got up, I used my rosary to say my prayers and meditate on the bible on the life of Jesus. As soon as I get up in the morning, I started to pray. I would pray from like 6 in the morning until 10 o’clock at night, to the minute I fall asleep. The next day, I did the same thing. It was so good. I was able to spend a day without having these thoughts that were burning my body. And then as I was praying, every prayer talked about love. Every prayer talked about forgiveness. I knew in my heart, there was no way I can forgive these people who are killing me. I hated them. I wanted them to go to hell. I was thinking that maybe they killed my mother. And I thought, I hope God agrees with me. I mean it was a good reason not to love them, not to pray for them. Any time I reach this part of the prayer, and for those who don’t know the rosary, on one rosary you say seven Our Lord’s prayer. And any time I reach this part, ‘Father, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,’ the first days it was okay. The next day I feel like I’m lying to God. I wish I could take this part out of the prayer. But yet it is God who say this prayer. It must be true.

So, one time I was really feeling like a liar, I sat there and I told God. ‘Look, I cannot pray for these people, but maybe help me out. I just want to be so sincere with you because I want your favor so much. That minute I surrendered everything. I give God all my thoughts, everything. Control me. Tell me what to do. I was praying one time, meditating, and I remembered the words Jesus said on the cross when He said, ‘Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they do.’ It was almost like I never heard those words before. It was so powerful. It was so clear to me that they cannot possibly know what they are causing. In that minute, I forgave them. We spent three months in that bathroom. We came out when the Tutsis liberals who have been in exile for thirty years, captured the country. And then we were able to come out. When we came out, I found out that everyone in my family was dead, my mom, my dad, my brothers, my neighbor Tutsis, my school mates. The whole country was dead bodies all over. I thought it was almost maybe the end of the world. Or the beginning, but one thing was real.

The forgiveness I’ve experienced, the love I got in the bathroom about God was so real, it was a gift that helped me relieve the pain of losing my parents. I am so grateful. I found out I was always the one concerning people. I even went to the prison to visit the killer of my parents. I wanted to find out how I would feel. As I saw him suffering, sitting down, a man who was respected. I really did feel compassion. I couldn’t believe that sin could bring somebody in a situation like that. If he couldn’t think of it himself, if he couldn’t love himself, to protect himself from coming into that situation, how can he think of me? How can he think of not hurting me? I knew for sure that he couldn’t know what he was doing. And I forgave him. My life today, all I want to do, all my thoughts, my decisions, I just want them to be based on love, on what God would do in my place if it was Him because I know as humans we make mistakes, and we can really make big mistakes. I hope and I think with forgiveness and love, unconditional love we can accomplish peace on earth. As Anne Frank said, the Jewish girl who was in hiding just like me, I really still believe that human beings I wouldn’t hurt and I hope we all help each other, pray for each other more than hating each other. Thank you for listening. Thank you. Thank you.

What a beautiful soul. What an example of life, love, mystery. By the time Immaculee reached the point in the story where she met the killer of her family and knew that he knew not what he had done, I was not ashamed of my anger and disappointment and antipathy toward my family, but moreover, I was gifted with an epiphany: It was in my power to find relief from the gnawing sensations of such negativity. The spiritual energy in that room was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I’ve never felt like I felt during the time this woman spoke. Never.

For the next ten minutes or so, Wayne Dyer spoke about the power of spirit and faith and the fact that that was the only reason Immaculee survived. She came back to the stage for few additional minutes and talked about how she had learned the English language while she was hiding in that bathroom from a French-English dictionary that had been left on the back of the toilet before the room had became a hide-a-away. Immaculee now lives on Long Island with her husband and two children. She works at the United Nations and will be speaking for the next year on the power of faith and forgiveness.

Just before closing the lecture, Wayne Dyer briefly mentioned that one of his eight children has suffered a great deal from drug addiction and that while she is doing well now, and in recovery, he would have approached that issue differently today. It was an odd aside because it didn’t fit with anything else he was saying. He even said that he didn’t know why he’d brought it up. Then he added he would stay for a while after the lecture to sign books. I looked over to my fiancé and my daughter. “No way,” I said. It was late and we were all exhausted and had a full schedule the next day. Quietly, we walked back to our room. I was still in awe and didn’t have much to say. I was trying to process the experience. My daughter asked me if I was okay. All I could say, “right now I’m overwhelmed.”

Once in the room, I made a visit to the bathroom. When I came out, I picked up my purse, Wayne Dyer’s children’s book I’d bought earlier and looked at my daughter and fiancé who had made themselves comfortable. “We have to go back,” I said. They both looked at me as though I lost my last remaining marble. “Let’s go before everyone is gone,” I insisted. “Something is telling me we need to go back and get our books signed.” While it is nice to have books signed, it is not my modus operandi to do so. We all headed back to the ballroom.

We returned to the lecture hall where about forty people remained. Twenty or so were gathered around Wayne Dyer, ten were huddled around Immaculee Ilabagiza, and the others seemed to be people who worked for the conference. We stood in line and listened to people praise Wayne Dyer for all of his contributions to helping people with spirituality and watched as he signed the books. Mary, my daughter, is generally quite shy, but when Dr. Dyer made eye contact with her, she immediately said, “I know what your daughter went through. I’m a recovering drug addict.” I had a knee jerk reaction of being choked up. I was very proud of her. Dr. Dyer looked at her with such kindness and said, “That’s why I said that bit about my daughter. I said it for you. I couldn’t understand why I brought it up. How long have you been clean?” Mary told him four months. He asked my daughter if he could hug her, which he did, and he kissed her—for a time she swore she was never washing her cheek. He then told her she now had a job to do, to tell others of her experience, and spent several minutes asking her questions. He did sign our books, and my fiancé took a picture of my daughter and me with him. We thanked him and began to leave.

rosaryI turned to my daughter and fiancé and said that I had to speak to Immaculee, that I needed to touch her, to hold her. I had no book for her to sign. We got in line to see her. I had no idea what I could possibly say to this woman. When it was my turn, I approached Immaculee and asked her if I could hug her. She opened her arms and we held each other. I said the only words I could utter: “Bless you.” She said, “You are so kind to me.” Then, a friend of Immaculee’s suggested to Immaculee that she might want to say/teach the rosary in the morning. I almost fell over. That’s why my computer bag made it to the conference. It wasn’t for the computer which didn’t work. It was for the rosary sitting in the bottom of the bag. I told Immaculee I would definitely be interested in saying the rosary with her. She thanked me and told me she would see me in the morning. What was happening to me? All of these “coincidences,” which coincidentally I don’t believe in, were occurring in such an orchestrated fashion that I knew I was in the mystery and part of something very extraordinary and sacred.

conclusion tomorrow

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