Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

Jul 08

The Fine Line Between Mother Teresa and Hitler

By Peggy Haymes | Uncategorized

Elisabeth Kubler-RossElisabeth Kubler-Ross was asked to lead her Life, Death and Transition workshops all over the world. I’ve been thinking about two of those workshops recently. (I trained with, staffed with and became friends with her former staff, and they shared these stories with me.)

One was in South Africa in the days of apartheid. Elisabeth agreed to come, but only on the condition that both white and black women be allowed to attend together (it was a women’s only workshop.) The organizers agreed, but the participants were unaware of this provision.

Whites and blacks lived in two completely different worlds but for these days they were going to be asked to eat together and to sleep together in one large room. My friend said that at the beginning the tension was unbearable, and some of the staff worried that the workshop may blow up in their face.

But then the women started to do their work. White women bore witness as black women told stories of rape and incest, and black women bore witness as white women also told stories of rape and incest.

On the last evening there was a talent show. The women, black and white together, came in doing a tribal dance. The tension was gone. They’d spoken the truth of their lives and been heard. They’d heard the truth of other lives.  Where color once divided them shared suffering and healing brought them together.

The second workshop was held in a maximum security prison in Ireland. Elisabeth had been asked to do a workshop with the inmates, prisoners guilty of the most heinous crimes. She agreed, but only on the condition that the guards participate as well. So, while some of the guards kept watch, others joined the prisoners in sharing their own losses. After a while, my friend said, it was hard to tell who was guard and who was prisoner. In  speaking and hearing one another’s deep pain and hidden shame, they found a common language and a common humanity.

Elisabeth used to say that there is within each of us a Mother Teresa and a Hitler. We can react out of our deep pains and fears and unhealed wounds and create more pain for ourselves and others. Or we can do the hard work of healing and risk having our hearts opened to others as they are healed.

In the last couple of days I’ve thought about those workshops a lot. Without a doubt, there are systemic issues in our country that need to be addressed. But there is also the responsibility of each of us to look deeply into our own lives. Where do our own wounds shape our vision? Where do our own fears of the unfamiliar determine our actions? When does our past shape the assumptions we make about the present?

It is hard work, but necessary work. Only as we step out of our own places of fear and shame can we make a space of hospitality in which we begin to try to understand the fears and shame and hopes and dreams of our neighbor.

And only as we create those places do we move from the destruction of violence to the creative power of love.



Peggy Haymes
Feb 05

The Joy of Missing Out

By Peggy Haymes | Uncategorized


Evidently it's a thing, the Fear of Missing Out. So many possibilities. So many choices. What if I miss out on that one experience? What if I make the wrong choice? What if I miss out?

I knew it was time. For far too long I'd been paying far too much money for far too many cable channels that I never watched. When I learned that I could stream sports channels, I made the call to the cable company. After haggling worthy of a Middle Eastern bazaar, I'd done the deed. My cable TV was now "limited" to various streaming services and the cable "Starter package," or, as I like to call it, the channels I was perfectly happy to have growing up.​

I wondered if I'd get a side order of FOMO with the change. After all, I was used to being able to access whatever was happening or might be​ happening, just with a click of the remote.

But instead the oddest thing happened.​

I was relieved. I felt as if a weight was off my shoulders. I no longer had to worry about whether or not I was missing out. I could be satisfied with what was before me.

Sometimes we go through life like the perpetual party guest, always looking over the shoulder of the experience we're having to see what new experience might be in the room.​ And yet, there's a great joy in being where we are when we are there.

The first time I walked into a Barnes and Noble​ Bookstore  I wanted to sit in the middle of the store and weep. So many books filled with such interesting things. And I would never be able to read them all in this lifetime. The fear of missing out on many of them, however, hasn't kept me from deeply enjoying some of them.

You're going to miss out. I'm going to miss out. We are all limited, finite creatures. But, oh my, the things we may experience if we let go of the fear and embrace what is before us.​