One day years ago I met a young woman who had experienced more loss and trauma in her life than I thought possible to survive with any sense of stability.
The cruelty of her early childhood was disturbing and her financial poverty was pervasive. Yet there she was at age 17 raising a baby, going to school and not using drugs.
I was new to social services and had not yet experienced the deep losses that one day would flood my life. I did not know it then, but what she taught me was a gift far greater than anything I taught her.
"How," I asked her, "are you so calm and peaceful?"
"I am not what happened to me," she said.
I am not what happened to me.
I share my version of the 23rd psalm for that young woman and all the other teachers in my life, few of whom were ever in a classroom.
A New 23rd Psalm
The light in me is my shepherd and my source of strength.
I need not want for more.
I find peace in the green pastures and still waters within me.
In those moments of stillness my light grows brighter,
my peacefulness is surer.
I walk the paths of life knowing the steps I leave behind will touch others after me so I walk with care and joyous intent.
As I walk the hills and valleys of life I do not fear the feelings that come with living fully. I accept loss, grief, joy, love, sorrow and passion. Acceptance enriches me and
opens me to the wonder of this moment and this place.
My values and experiences and those who have walked before me forever guide me and teach me.
I find comfort in knowing I can make mistakes,
learn and grow.
I prepare a table before me to welcome people into my life.
I offer respect, honor, truth and safety
to them and to myself.
I have no enemies. We are all souls on a journey of discovery. At times we journey together
in harmony, our paths linked.
At other times our journeys are on different paths.
Love, wisdom, truth, and acceptance will surround me
all the days of my life.
I will dwell forever in my inner light of beauty and peace;
it is there, it always was, it always will be.