On Deepening Relationships

I came to Vienna with the American delegation for the Peace Starts with Me festival. As a few of us were visiting the heart of Vienna (which includes St Stephen’s Cathedral where Dietrich used to attend mass) we bumped into a Federation for World Peace member from France, and we started sharing.

Although from German descent he had been living in France for many years, and he explained to us that he had difficulties establishing deep meaningful relationships. Because of that, he felt unfulfilled, a little depressed, and that his life was at a standstill. We encouraged him, “never give up, continue the good work, at the end you will succeed.”

But is it not true that it takes two to tango? To have a happy life, we must make peace within ourselves, in our family, but also with our close neighbors, and establish deep meaningful relations to feel valued or embraced or understood. The give and take of love goes around and returns to the giver. We are born that way to connect with each other in a family, to connect with our community with love, empathy and care. No one should feel alone or neglected.

At Fairbanks Square loving community, I remember Stephan, who every day made a few trips to the garbage disposal. It was healthy for him to make a 2-minute walk from his apartment a few times a day; that makes 10 minutes and here is your workout for a 90 years old young man. But most of all in Fairbanks there are plenty of benches on the way to the garbage disposal and the chances are in Southern California you will meet someone sitting there. Stephan had plenty of opportunities each day to strike up a conversation, and that was even healthier than walking. He was indeed the first person I shared with about my tribe and the motto. He encouraged me and that made me feel good.

The other thing about Stephan is that he is always extremely helpful. When we could not put our sofa together I asked him, do you know a young man who could help us? He said he was the young man and he could put this thing together on the spot.

Stephan is so proud of his wife, Judith, saying that every morning she goes to church to give communion to people. To hear that, I was already impressed, so Judith and I met and we had many prayers together, and many deep memories of sharing love joy and sadness together. It was her that I called in a very difficult moment. After the funeral home came to pick up Dietrich’s body after he passed, I told Judith I am coming to your home for dinner tonight. She came to pick me up with Cathy, another wonderful neighbor and former nun. So I had dinner with Judith and Stephan and lunch with Cathy.

I want to try harder to make things around me more happy, more lovable. I want to take time to greet someone with a smile, and like Stephan did, serve someone today.

Did not Jesus say, love your neighbors like yourselves. If you love your neighbors you already love God.

Elisabeth Seidel

Making Beautiful Things Makes a Beautiful Heart

My friend Toshiko from San Diego is always making beautiful things as well as John, her husband, a painter. Their home is full of colorful paintings. You can sense the heart and the soul expressed in these works of art.

Each time we had our Women’s Federation for World Peace event in Southern California, Toshiko made exquisite Japanese flower bouquets, arranging the shades together with style, which enchanted our meetings. If I ever ask, Toshiko what are you up to right now? “I am making beautiful things,” she will answer!

One evening with friends, under the leadership of Sarah, we created necklaces with pearls and metal pieces. This was very relaxing, and I was surprised that this activity could bring so much joy to us all.

My mom loved her garden and at retirement she was tending it every morning as a faithful tradition. She put care and love ending to the rows of vegetables which ended up in a soup every day. She also admired the orange lily flowers planted by my grandmother which continued year after year to produce new generations, connecting us to our ancestors.

We truly live in a beautiful world that our creator GOD made just for us to enjoy and become ourselves creators. As making beautiful things makes a beautiful heart.

With love, your friend Elisabeth

Orphans and Orphanages

Recently I spent one month in San Diego where my children live. My beloved son Christopher, while we were finishing dinner together in the busy town on Valentine’s Day, took out his wallet to pay for the family. As I looked at his wallet made of cloth, it was so falling apart, broken, and dirty, I was wondering why he does not buy a new one. He said this wallet had so much value and meaning because it comes from an orphanage where he bought it and he wants to send it somewhere for repair because it is so special to him.

There are so many causes to care for, why an orphanage? Then it hit me, orphanage: the kids without parents. How can a child be without a mom and dad and not receiving the love he or she is longing for? When I was a child myself I always asked my Grandma Marie to tell me stories about her life in an orphanage in Lyon in France, where I guess her mom must have dropped her off for reasons we do not know.

In the summer when my Grandma was still a child, perhaps seven or eight years old, she would go to a family in the mountains of Savoie in “Les Côtes” by Saint Etienne de Cuines, and in exchange for helping to take care of the fields and animals she would receive room and board. After the summer it was time for her to go back by train and I believe one lady from the orphanage would come and wait for her at the train station in Saint Avre-La Chambre. This day Marie refused to board the train, clinging to this couple who took care of her during the summer, holding their coats and sobbing. No-one could persuade her to get on the train. This couple with already many kids decided to adopt her and they became her new family.

Her new brothers and sisters became close with her and I met many of them when I was a child and later their offspring. I heard they even gave her a dowry when she married my grandfather Jean Jamen, himself without a father. His mom had two children and the older one took care of Jean when his mom passed and was his only parent or witness for his wedding. They said that his father must have been an Italian man coming to France for work and had a love affair there in Monthion, a village close to Italy.

Even though my Grandma Marie was an adopted child coming from an orphanage, her adopted parents considered her as their most beloved child and she could be raised in a loving family with brothers and sisters. This was a great blessing for her.

The love of parents is one of the most precious of all. Parents do not keep grudges against their children, or bad feelings. They do not keep any record of wrong. Their love is infinite and eternal.

Much love to all of you,
Your friend Elisabeth

Making a World of Peace One Family at a Time

In his article The Significance of the family for World Peace, my husband Dietrich quoted Mitch Albom saying “The family is the only secure foundation. You must have the support and love of a family or you don’t have much at all.”

Looking back at my relationship with my husband, I had many days when I was feeling in great agony. Those were the days when we had a fight. A volcano would erupt from time to time.

Dietrich’s Chinese Zodiac sign is the Ram (Lamb). He is extremely patient. My sign is the Rooster, and I am extremely impatient. When reading about compatibility between the Ram and the Rooster it says the relationship is most difficult but not impossible – the Ram does not know what to make of the Rooster.

So, we had to tackle so many impossible situations. My specialty was to erupt quickly; for him nothing would really trigger him. If I was hurt, unhappy, upset and the like I would not talk to him for hours. But I was in very deep agony. All my energy, zest for life, raison de vivre, joie de vivre, purpose and goals were gone. I was most miserable.

Then I noticed the same pattern always coming from him, “We need to talk.” To show my dissatisfaction I totally refused at first, letting out some more steam and eruptions. But truly I was not happy in this state. No matter what, we had to work it out. We needed to forgive each other and reconcile and start anew.

Then I realized we needed to talk. He always left me plenty of space and a listening ear to digest all my arguments, but he was always the first to say “I did not mean to hurt you. This was not my intention. Please forgive me.” Then I could open up to him again, letting go of my anger.

The point was that both of us we were absolutely anchored in God and in our belief that we must work out our differences to be a happy couple. And we would never let go of that.

To conclude, when there is a fight one of us has to say “We need to talk” and apologize, saying “It was not my intention to hurt you. Please forgive me.” Lend a listening ear and a forgiving heart and conclude it with a deep hug. Hugs are warm, cozy, bringing the affection needed for everyday life.

True love is not impossible. In fact, it is our raison de vivre, our joie de vivre.

Much love to all of you.
Your friend Elisabeth

About a Loving Marriage

In an article on “Secrets for a successful marriage,” my husband Dietrich talked about the marriage experts who put great emphasis on the spouses’ character development, that is, their attitude and internal disposition:

In fact, most marital advice has to do with strengthening the roots of human relationships. Like the roots of a tree, our internal disposition also needs to be firmly grounded in the solid foundation of our value system and world view so we can brave even the greatest storms.

To achieve a good marriage, we need to develop two areas, namely, internal attitudes and external skills. Internal attitudes have to do with our spiritual lives, which define the roots of our marriages, while external skills focus on building and nourishing our marital bond.

To nourish our marital bond Dietrich and I loved nature walks. My best memories are in walking the mountains of Austria and France through the hot sunshine, rain, or snow. The trees became our friends. They were part of ourselves, as well as the sky and the sun and the wild animals. He always preferred the unmarked paths down the mud and the hills. But to please me most of the time we walked the well-marked paths, the ones which almost always arrived at the next hut where special hot soup or other Austrian specialties were awaiting us.

I was receiving so much love and care going hand in hand with my beloved and absorbing in my body and soul the energizing and life-giving elements of nature. He never failed to mention each time and every time how most beautiful God’s creation is.

About Prayer

Prayer with tears liberates the heart and feeds the soul.

Talk to God as if He was your ideal Father or your ideal Mother, sharing your feelings of joy, sadness, worry, pain, disappointment, failures, victories and liberation.

At this time in history God, our Heavenly Parent, wants to find ALL His children and communicate with all of us. We are living in a most special time where we can connect again and feel His guidance.

Some words from my beloved husband on prayer:

“Prayer is a necessary condition for deepening our life of faith. Beyond this I try to crystallize the goal that life itself becomes prayer as a fulfilling and joyful experience.

Since prayer is the expression of our partnership with God we have to know our partner—His will, character, desire, and even His opinion about us. Jesus Christ revealed to us the suffering heart of the Father about the loss of His children in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Unfortunately, this central message is many times replaced by an impersonal feeling toward God, a feeling triggered through an overemphasis on God’s omniscience, omnipotence and holiness. If we understand God primarily as our loving Parent whose heart is grieving because of man’s rejection, then we realize the dimension of God’s compassion for the speedy return of all His children. This will be the foundation for our new understanding of prayer. The ‘You’ we speak to God should be closer, more intimate, than the ‘you’ we speak to our dearest friend, spouse, or even ourselves.”

Hoping you are all well, and sending prayers your way.

Your friend Elisabeth

Sending Love Your Way

In the earlier years of our marriage my husband, Dietrich, was often late coming home and did not have the habit of calling to let me know. There were no cell phones at that time but I was still expecting a call.

This was hard on me as I am a natural worrier. What happened? Where is he? Did something happen? And so on for as long as he was not home.

But because his Ph.D. thesis dealt with marriage and family in the Christian tradition, he studied this topic deeply and I think one reason he became my true love is because he studied this intensely and became better and better at it.

So I wish to share with you all our friends, our family, and our tribe some of his findings. And my other wish is to communicate with you all every month.

For this month of April, 2018, here it is.

This is my husband speaking now:

“My hope and joy about life was rooted in the experience of a loving family and I knew already as a youngster that priests were not permitted to marry.

From that time on, I repeatedly asked myself questions about God and His providence. I especially had questions about why Jesus could not marry and have his own family and in this way be an example for his followers.”

This has been the thinking of Dietrich since a youngster. Later on, he also said:

“Building my marriage with Elisabeth and raising our children became for me the path of discovering the heart of God. I soon realized that beyond all my theological studies and intellectual pursuits, it is through the experience of loving human relationships, and in particular family life, that God wants to be present among us.”

So that is it for today. Hoping you are all well; if you need prayer support let me know. I pray everyday for people in need with my prayer partner.

God bless you always.

Your friend Elisabeth