Vow & Performing - In sharing Tao we deepen our realization
By Heather Storeng
In August 2022 I was staying at a health care facility because I was in poor health. One day while I was there, we watched a talk from someone who said it is essential to find your Purpose in life. At that moment I thought, ‟I know my Purpose I’m just not doing it.”
This was a shocking realization. My Purpose was to help other English Tao speaking people learn more about Tao by working alongside our Dien Chuan Shi at the temple. The goal was to help her in any way that I could. Yet I was not doing that, because I was too sick and too afraid to ask her if she wanted my help.
The next time I talked to my husband. I told him about my Purpose and he called our DCS and she said she would welcome my help. From that moment on, I started working on getting healthy so that I could eventually stay at the temple with her for short periods of time. My desire was so sincere that it only took six weeks before I left the facility. And within five months I was living my Purpose at the temple.
As part of my journey, I wanted to do something for children. It occurred to me that we need books about Tao aimed at teaching children, so I wrote a story, illustrated the pictures, and shared with our DCS’s at temple. Not only did they like it, they came up with the idea of creating three more stories, all centered around the idea of ‟Cherish” which was going to be the theme for Summer Camp this year. There were four primary sections: Cherish Self, Cherish Family, Cherish Others, Cherish Earth (and Animal).
Immediately I was excited about this concept and sat down to write the stories. Children are so important, and need to know that they are precious and cherished. Sharing the message of Tao to children is essential, so that they know about their True Self and know how to help others that are struggling. I have taught music to children for many years and was thrilled to be able to teach them to be respectful of themselves, others and the planet as well. It was an honor to write four stories where these ideas were explored.
As it came closer to Family Camp, a team came together to plan out the activities and the general flow. One of the ideas was to make one of the characters from the story into a super-hero. We focused on the qualities of a hero – generous, helpful – and decided to emphasize them throughout the two-day event.
When the camp finally arrived, I was most impressed by one of the Junior Councilors. ‟Two days is not long enough!” she exclaimed as we neared the end of Camp. She had been enthusiastic about serving in whatever capacity she could and had devoted herself to seeing to it that all of the children involved in the camp felt welcomed and important. One of the children had some learning difficulties and she, along with every other counselor, treated him just like all the other children, involving him in every activity and project regardless of what it entailed.
What I witnessed over the course of the camp was how all the children were surrounded by care, love and attention, so that they were made to feel important and truly cherished. The theme of the camp was ‟Cherish”, so all activities revolved around this, and I observed the children start by Cherishing Self, then expanding to Cherish Guardians, then opening up further to Cherish Others and finally Cherish Earth (and Animal).
It was easy to see from their actions that they understood what they were being taught, because they were respectful of themselves and others, as well as respectful of resources, such as only taking the amount of food they would actually eat, to cut down on food waste. My heart was filled with joy seeing how much the children and counselors were getting out of sharing, and I was truly touched by the junior counselor’s comment about the length of the camp. That told me that we had succeeded in showing her that she too, was cherished.
Throughout the entire process of claiming my Purpose, writing and illustrating the stories, and helping out at Family Camp, I have felt enormous gratitude for Tao, and being able to share my life and gifts with people.
(Editor’s Note: The 4 Book Box Set of Cherish Life series will be published by Zhong Shu Temple USA, and be able to be ordered directly from Amazon.com. We will keep you posted.)
2022 年 8 月分，我因健康狀況不佳而住在一家醫療機構。我在那裡的某一天，我們觀看了一位演講者的分享，他說：「找到人生目標至關重要。」那一刻我想：「我早已知道我的人生目標，只是沒有去做。」
Reflection of 2023 Michigan Zhong Shu Temple Tao Family Camp ‟Cherish Life”
By Fatimah Lewis
I am sincerely grateful to have had the opportunity to experience 2023 Michigan Tao Family Summer Camp. This year’s Summer Camp theme ‟Cherish Life” was very appropriate for this season of time that we are living in due to many people having a difficult time cherishing life. With the guidance of our Tao Transmitting Master, the planning team set an intention to use every moment and every activity (from the welcome to the departure) to give all attendees an opportunity to reflect on and to model what it truly means to ‟cherish” all life (self, family, others and Nature).
This year’s camp was also a great example of the true meaning ‟for youth by youth”. Most of the camp activities were created, and facilitated by our young adult counselors and Jr. counselors. To observe their confidence, competence, creativity and their innate embodiment of Tao principles was truly a heartfelt experience.
This year's activities also included the theme of ‟super-hero’s” to help the campers understand and connect to their own inner super powers (virtues). I was truly humbled, as I watched the counselors and campers put into practice their super powers (virtues).
We watched them transform obstacles into opportunities for growth, resolve challenges with creativity, and accept one another’s differences with compassion. We are all deeply inspired by and proud of our youth! My heart is filled with joy and hope for the future.
I look forward to future opportunities to engage with our youth and to learn and grow with them in service, leadership and modeling Tao principles and practices.