Moments of Grace by John Cali

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John Cali

As many of you know, I normally don’t pay much attention to the mainstream news media. But I have during this very difficult time in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

We’ve all heard many stories of the human horrors left festering in Katrina’s wake. And we’ve heard people in positions of responsibility, folks who should know better, pointing fingers and finding blame everywhere except in themselves.

CNN host Howard Kurtz exclaimed, “Good God, what is wrong with these people? Will they ever learn to see somebody else’s misfortune as something more than their political opportunity?”

But, for the first time in my personal memory, the mainstream news media are focusing not only on the bad news, but also almost as much on the good news, the news of all the “good Samaritans” out there.

National Public Radio reporter Robert Smith said “There’s no shortage of kindness, even if there is a shortage of space.”

There have been, as another wise reporter said, “moments of grace.” Moments that restore our faith in humanity, in ourselves, and in the basic goodness of life.

In an eloquent and poignant letter, a dear friend wrote me about her own moments of grace.

Here’s her letter:

Dear One,

On the subject of Hurricane Katrina, may I make a few comments? I live and work in Houston TX, as you may or may not know. There has been a plethora of accusations and blaming, but I feel those are people who’ve not yet learned that blaming and accusation get us nothing.

Rather I’d like to tell you that in my job as a rabbi’s assistant, the very morning the hurricane made landfall, my phone was ringing non-stop with people saying “Tell me what to do, how can I help? I can’t sit here doing nothing!” And it has continued to ring with that same sentiment ever since.

Houston citizenry has opened their hearts and homes and wallets, they have volunteered for feeding the hungry and clothing those who arrived here with only the shirt on their backs. They have sat with refugees and listened to them talk, something that many desperately needed. They have played with the children and brought toys.

As we continue to become more organized, there are solid plans in place so that the most can be accomplished to help the hurricane victims without duplicating efforts. People from all walks of life have stepped up to the plate and worked tirelessly.

People from nearly every state in the Union have called to volunteer parts of their homes, their vacation homes, air mattresses, anything they have to house those who’ve lost everything.

This country has not lost its heart nor its faith! I have a sign in my office that states (not my words) “I don’t believe in miracles, I depend on them.” And oh my goodness they abound here and I am grateful to be here.

Much love,
(Name omitted)

Here’s Spirit.


If nothing else good comes from this, it’s certain it will create, already is creating, a much greater sense of oneness than has perhaps ever existed in your United States.

That sense of oneness, as it radiates its energy out to the world, will bring all of you, all over the planet, into a much different place than you have ever experienced before. It will bring you far closer to your dream of peace on earth than you have ever been. To paraphrase your writer, Charles Dickens, it is a far, far better place you go to than you have ever known.

There have been many stories of the big and little human tragedies and triumphs Katrina has created. It is clearly a time of transitioning, of quickening of the energies on your planet.

While many have died, none have died in vain. Even in this time of sadness, trauma, and many grisly scenes broadcast all over the planet — even in this time of human terror — there is much to rejoice in. There is much to celebrate. There is much you, as a human race, have to congratulate yourselves for.

You have come together — most of you, though not all — into a greater awareness of what it means to be human at this time on your beloved planet.

You are more aware — and this happened in the blink of an eye — of how deeply connected you are with each other and with all that is.

That greater awareness is one of the many blessings to come out of this time of human trial and trauma. There are many good people among you — and all of you are of good intent. There is much good in all of you. You have far more in common than you have differences among you.

Celebrate yourselves. Be joyful in your knowing you are not lost, your world is not lost, your world is not broken, you are not broken. Know all is well.

Those who died were ready to move on. None of you dies except in the manner and timing only you decide, at some level of your awareness. Whether it be by “accident,” so-called “natural causes,” or by your own hand or that of another. You are in control.

And that is why we say no one died in vain. All who died were ready, and are now rejoicing in the loving embrace of their souls and all of us in these dimensions of spirit.

Their deaths have also given all of you still on earth another grand opportunity to remember who you truly are, and to embrace your humanness — and each other.

Nothing happens haphazardly, not even so-called natural disasters such as Katrina. You live in an orderly universe where there are no accidents, no coincidences.

We realize it is hard for many of you to see it that way right now. But you will ultimately come to see the beauty and the perfection of all life, the “good” and the “bad.”

All is well, friends. You are safe. You are in good hands. Your lives are simply one long succession of moments — moments of grace.

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