Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Emmaus Road

Ah! My lovely white peony is at last losing its petals, the blooming far too brief, but perhaps more precious because of its brevity. The scattered petals stand in stark relief against the brown mulch, an offering of purity, a reminder of the fragility of life and the temporality of its gifts. 

Reading about suffering this morning...the wise words of Sister Joan Chittister. Reflecting on the ability of suffering to either destroy us or to reshape us in ways which open us to compassion and possibility...about its ability to remind us that this, too, shall pass...that life is made of stages, seasons, ever-changing, on-going, a cycle of life that never remains the same. 

and it came to pass...
The Bible's "And it came to pass..."
Elie Wiesel's "And yet..."
the Tao's "Life IS life..."
words of wisdom & comfort, all...
    but we want things to be different
    than they are...want assurances...
                                  want the bases covered...
                                         only that is not Life!
Life is the unfolding of moments...
the tick of the clock...the strains of
Barber's "Adagio"...the fragrance of
fresh coffee...the distant sounds of
traffic...the warble of birds...the
hum of the furnace...the shadow of
my hand on the page...the growl
of my empty stomach.


It is walking with deliberation &
joy...with awareness & gratitude,
eyes wide open, heart attuned to
the pace, the rhythm of your own
beating heart, to the pulse
of the world's living energy...


It is caring deeply enough about
your today and other's tomorrows
that you make wise & heartfelt decisions
about using, spending, wasting...


It is spending your life profligately,
unconcerned about saving it for
a rainy day but splashing through
the puddles in joyous awareness that
rain is as necessary for life as
sunshine...that light comes only
after darkness...that awe & wonder
are the only truly appropriate
responses to this incredible
gift that is

         TODAY!

Often the most debilitating suffering is the result of things we do to ourselves, the decisions we make, the paths we choose to follow. And often this kind of suffering plagues us for years, tears us apart inside, as we are unable, unwilling to let it go. Yet let it go we must, lest we become swaddled in the superficial. If we let it, this kind of suffering can cause us to ask new questions of life, to ask, "Is it worth it?"...the job, the career, the difficult relationship, the superficial friendship, maintaining the outer facade?

And the most important question Sister Joan asks in this morning's reading brought me up short. IS IT WORTH WHAT I CANNOT DO WHILE I'M DOING THIS INSTEAD? On other words, is is really worth spending my life...spending my life, the only valuable currency i really have...on petty, tawdry, useless things? things which make life small rather than large and full, which diminish rather than expand and enrich?

We may never be totally healed of our suffering, especially that which is self-imposed...but it does not have to keep us bound. Think of Lazarus emerging from the tomb, the disciples from Emmaus seeing Jesus anew...pain and grief reshaped into disbelieving joy. Think of the gift of each new day- fresh, beautiful, pristine, the slate clean- the opportunity to begin again. May this day be that gift for you, dear ones, wherever you are.

the Emmaus Road...
How often have i let the past
with its mistakes, its decisions
dripping with regret, its twists and turns
on paths fraught with suffering
of my own making, shape
my life?

How often have i let the past
hold me captive in its thrall and,
vampire-like, suck the very life-blood
from me, paling and impaling me,
wraith-like, on pain and regret?

But on my own Emmaus Road
i met a man who spoke
of truth...who opened up the way
to me of new life, hope, and
reshaped dreams, and Sunday after Sunday,
i know him in the breaking of the bread,
in the community of faith
gathered as one body...
            and i begin anew.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's About Peace...

Good morning, dear ones far and near. Once again, the rains have watered the earth here in Carolina and the birds are joyously reaping the harvest of earthworms in my side yard. Earlier, a little wren sat on the branch just outside the window and serenaded me for precious moments. Now i hear him out on the rear deck, singing for all he's worth. The grass is green, green, green, and the world seems fresh and new, baptized by the refreshing nightime storms.

And here i sit, reading, thinking about peace, presently reflected in the immediate world around me. Yet in the greater world, the world of which i am a part, as small as that is, of which we are all a part, peace seems only the glowing and unrealistic dream of Polyannas who refuse to admit how threatening the world really is...who are out of touch with life's realities and fears. 

Well, count me among them...only i do not consider myself out of touch but rather only too aware of the fragility of life, of the daring it takes to live fully, undaunted by the pervasiveness of fear, certain that as i can find peace within myself, i can project peace outward into the world and make a difference- a drop-in-the-ocean difference, to be sure, but a difference nonetheless. Peace takes courage- so states one of the bumper stickers on my car...so affirmed the young Chinese student who stood in front of tanks in Tiananmen Square...or Nelson Mandela, serving long years in a South African prison...or the Dalai Lama, in exile from his beloved Tibet for most of his adult life. Peace takes courage! And it comes from, begins, within.

To quote Sister Joan Chittister, "The peaceful person knows the grace of being content with who he or she is." And there it is...being CONTENT with who we are...happy with who we are and what we have...and knowing IT IS ENOUGH! It is recognizing and respecting the "other" and the fact that we are inextricably linked. It is unfailingly wishing the best for one another and encouraging, rejoicing in, celebrating, supporting the many ways in which the people around us achieve their fullest potential.

And it is not only doing good in this world- even evil people "do good" in an attempt to curry favor or gain power- but doing no harm. Doing no harm, you see, requires real care and compassion...requires
a true realization of the intrinsic value of EACH person, regardless... regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, tribe, sexuality, social status, gender, age, ability, intellect. It is to see the shining light which emanates from each soul, without which the world becomes an ever-darkening place.

Peace- true peace- is about living what we know, what we believe... embodying it. At a certain point, you see, words become inadequate and only LIVING love, LIVING peace, LIVING acceptance, LIVING integrity will suffice.

                 Putting
                 Every expectation
                 Aside
                 Contentment
                 Enters

May you have a beautiful day, dear ones. Let peace begin with you, wherever you are, whatever this day brings. love, linda 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday, Tuesday...

Well, dear ones, i'm sitting in my living room chair once again, looking out at a gray and windy morning, contemplating the day ahead. This hasn't happened in some time and i'm thoroughly enjoying this quiet, unhurried time before the day actually "begins"...just reading and thinking and writing, easing into the day in a way which i find incredibly energizing and healing. Two of my favorite writers, Joan Chittister and Mark Nepo, accompany me, inspire me, prod me into thinking deeply...and across the room, a lovely white peony stands tall and straight, releasing a gentle fragrance into the room, the incense of holiness captured in this embodiment of beauty. Ahead lies a full day of appointments and tasks and even as i contemplate the hours, i rest in the many words of truth which have been entering into me, becoming part of me... opening me to seeing life through lenses of love, opening me to letting go of my need to plan and control, opening me to send love out into the world- to each one of you- even as i spread my arms wide to receive whatever the day has to offer.

May your day be filled with both poetry and plenty...may you find within yourself the awareness that you lack nothing, that all you need for this day is within and around you. May you live in the awareness that transformation happens only when we stop resisting and let go- of plans, of control, of expectations. Live in peace, dear ones, and know every moment that you are loved.

the past...
i peer over my shoulder
into the past
even as my feet take me
into the future
i walk the road before me
with confidence
that at each twist and turn
     the strength i've gained
     the wisdom learned
     the sorrows borne
     the pain suffered
     the love experienced
will bear me up
and light my way
no matter what befalls-
a gift of grace on which
     to build my day

words...
WE CAN NEVER BE PREPARED FOR EVERYTHING.
Wise words from the contemporary sage
who guides my day, who eases me
daily into a life of challenge
mixed with hope.

LET GO OF EXPECTATIONS.
More wise words from the youthful sprite
who guides my yoga practice,
who leads my aging body into poses
which stretch and strengthen.

GOD IS SELDOM IN OUR PLANS, BUT ALWAYS IN THE UNEXPECTED.
Still more wise words emerging
from my morning contemplation,
which shapes my thinking,
sets my intention for what is to come-
     another day of living
     another day of life
     another day of hope and joy
     another day shaped by truth
     another wholly holy day.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mixed Feelings...

Well, dear ones, i was greeted by the news this morning, upon awaking...Osama bin Laden was dead, killed in a firefight by Navy Seals, ending a 10-year hunt for the leader of al-Qaida, the man responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in this country. And i must confess that my first thought was, "Thank God! Perhaps the war in Afghanistan will soon be over!" But hearing about the crowds of people gathering outside the White House, in New York City, to cheer and celebrate brought another emotion- overwhelming sadness. i know...this man was in many ways despicable...dubbed a "terrorist" by much of the world, responsible as he was for numerous acts which caused death and destruction. i know...and a piece of me understands. But a part of my heart was weeping for what seemed to me a loss of our humanity when we can cheer and celebrate the death of another human being.

But even as i thought this, i harkened back to a conversation i had this past Friday evening with some dear friends who i was visiting in Pennsylvania. Somehow, as we talked about everything under the sun, from politics to mutual friends to our children to my up-coming trip to Africa to the major problem there of HIV/AIDS, we stumbled upon the topic of pedophilia and our feelings about perpetrators of this crime. And i recall saying that if someone- anyone- sexually abused one of my grandchildren, i could quite willingly kill that individual. And there it was! My own inhumanity coming to the forefront...my willingness to forgive, to practice justice trampled by the reality of my own emotional shortcomings, my own need for retribution.

So perhaps i understand a bit more the cheers and celebration, especially by those most directly affected by 9/11 and the other acts of terrorism perpetrated by bin Laden. But i find myself still grieving for our collective human inability to take ownership for our part in the creation and perpetration of the evil in our lives, in our world, preferring to point the finger outside ourselves to the "other"...instead of being willing to "cast out the log" in our own eye.

Hatred will never cease by hatred.
By love alone it is healed.
-The Buddha

terrorism
When you are
          abjectly poor,
when you live
          without hope,
when you see others
          with so much,
          while you have so
                   little,
what do you
have to lose by
becoming a terrorist?
                   a suicide bomber?

Why is it so difficult
for us as a nation- as a people-
          with so many “haves”
          among the world’s “have-nots”-
                   to recognize
                       acknowledge
                               our complicity
                               in a worldview                                                 
                               which makes terrorism
                                       not only possible but
                                            inevitable?

For when hope is gone,
          what rushes in to
          fill the nature-abhorred
          vacuum?
                    fear
                    anger
                    the need for retribution,
                    real or imagined.
                               Lord, have mercy.



Perhaps what we most need now is a participation in a celebration of peace, which is just what The Labyrinth Society is sponsoring this Saturday, May 7th. The invitation has gone out  worldwide for a walk for peace, "Walk as One at 1", calling people to walk a labyrinth in their area at 1p.m. in their own time zone, in order to be part of a rolling wave of peaceful energy as the earth turns. For those of you here in my part of the world, why not come to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Greensboro and walk their lovely outdoor labyrinth? (not the one on the photo) And to find a labyrinth in your area, go to http://www.labyrinthlocator.com/

May peace fill your heart, dear ones, and may we all be part of this holy wave of peace spreading across the entire earth. Perhaps, just perhaps, this celebration will remind us of our shared humanity, of the fragile thread which binds us all together, which makes us one.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day

My dear sister, Susan, reminded me that today is ‘May Day’, recalling how, as children, we used to make little baskets, fill them with wild flowers- usually violets- and leave them on doorknobs in the neighbor-hood. Do children do that any more? And wouldn’t it be lovely if     
they did? Wouldn’t  it be lovely if  we all
                                    did?

May Day!   (written in 2008)
May Day! May Day!
Planes targeting buildings
   filled with ordinary
   people doing ordinary
               things...
suicide bombers targeting
   people they don't even
   know in order to
   lay claim to a heaven only reached
               by the hell they create...
a gun-wielding, mentally-ill
   young man, acting out
   of his pain and perverted
   world-view, shooting
   fellow-students, faculty,
                for reasons beyond reason...

May Day! May Day!
The world is going to hell
   in a bushel basket-
      fear runs rampant!
      life is out of control!
      the foundations shaken...
                 no place to stand
                 no place that is safe...


May Day! May Day!
Tiny baskets, flowers overflowing,
   hung on doorknobs,
   bringing a taste of spring...
   carrying the fragrance
                           of hope...
Loving messages of care
   and concern sent
   via the mysterious
electronic gift of e-mail...
carrying & conveying the
    ongoing connection of
                   heart to heart,
                   life to life...
A phone call from a loving
   child to say hello, to say
"I care"...to light the day
with long-distance love,
no less the sweet for being
conveyed from afar...

May Day! May Day!
   A cry for help...
   a cry of hope-
      and love
      and joy
      and eternal connection-
            and life!
                  I choose LIFE-
                  and it is enough!