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Coming Full CircleNovember 24, 2015
In a three month trip overseas from our home in Aitutaki, we are literally having an awesome time. American Thanksgiving is being celebrated this week, and Dan and I have much to be thankful for. Although we talk about the Cook Islands often, think about floating in a the turquoise lagoon under a clear blue sky while gray clouds here in British Columbia Canada spit cold rain, we are amazed at the patterns Creator has laid before us on this trip. We have come full circle from the time The Virtues Project started here more than 25 years ago. I have shared the story as recently as last week in a talk at the University of Victoria of how it started. My husband Dan, my brother John and I felt called to do something about the rising violence and suicides of children and youth. We thought that if they understood the meaning of life, the fact that each of us is put on earth for a purpose, it would help them to value life - their own and that of others. So, where do you find the meaning of life? As a scholar of the world's sacred traditions, Dan researched all the Holy books and found that virtues, like a silver thread of unity, are the essence of all faiths and cultures. The Beatitudes or (Be Attitudes as some call them) are Jesus's call to virtues. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." Galatians 5:22 -23 names nine attributes of a Christian life: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." In the Tanach of Judaism, the Prophet Micah says, "With what shall I come before the Lord? He has told you O mortal, what the Lord requires of you, only to act justly and to love virtue and to walk humbly with your God." The Buddhist teachings contain ten virtues leading to happiness and a good life. "Virtue is the fence against the encroachment of bad things which destroy our body and mind. It is a plant of wholesomeness which a person should cultivate…it is the medicine which heals the diseases of the world." The Baha'i Faith teaches that "we are here to acquire the virtues of the Kingdom". Virtues are at the heart of every belief and humanity needs them now more than ever.
Just before we finished The Family Virtues Guide, which gives parents a way to raise their children with 52 virtues, such as peace, respect, love, and kindness, we paused to pray and ask what to do with the book. The answer we received in meditation was "First Nations first". At the time I had no idea how we would respectfully reach out to indigenous people. Hadn't they had enough imposed on them by Caucasians?! The next day something miraculous occurred. We received a phone call. A voice said, "Are you the ones with the virtues? Will you bring it to our people?" It was the education director of the Tsawataineuk First Nation in Kingcome Inlet, BC asking us to work with their village. Among the people we have worked with in virtues healing circles the last few weeks were several individuals from Kingcome Inlet. Full circle! First Nations first and last. Then another awesome thing happened. The Interfaith Chaplains of the University of Victoria were the sponsors of the talk last week, entitled "How the Universal Virtues Lead to a Grace-filled Life", most likely my last presentation in Canada. More than twenty-five years ago, they were the first people we asked to review our book and tell us if it held value. So once again, it felt like a completion. The auditorium was packed, and many of the smiling faces familiar - people who had attended Virtues Project workshops over two decades, including the Head Mistress and several staff from a primary school still using the Project ten years later. From this perspective, it sure looks as though it has been planned this way all along through the guiding hand of Grace. Soon, we will be back with our friends and family in the Cook Islands to bask in the virtues of love and joy.