Thursday, January 3rd 2013
Happy New Year friends and welcome to my first blog for 2013 and the first coordinated blog of 2013 as part of our continuing series, Solidarity Thursdays. I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to share space with Ben, Esther, and Zachary.
This week’s blog topic, appropriately, is “New Beginnings”. Ironically, I have had quite a bit of difficulty…beginning.
You see, I find myself – my heart and mind – still bound up in 2012, at least where it has bled into 2013. Try as I might, sitting in meditation, chanting “let go, let go”, I have discovered that even as I sit on that cushion I am harboring anger, frustration, and sadness over recent events. I am grieving in empathy with the families of the numerous children so tragically taken from life. I am grieving the ever increasing reaction we have to greet such horrific violence, with preparation to impart even more violence as a means to end violence. And in this, I am not speaking of the families who were directly affected. I would expect and understand such a reaction from such pain and suffering. Ironically, most victims are not calling for what is being set forth. A peripheral audience of opportunists, along with those guided by fear seems to be framing the discussion. I am grieving that politics can seemingly – so callously – ignore violence towards women or victims of Hurricane Sandy by not renewing The Violence Against Women Act or securing funds for these destitute people still without homes, still without assistance so long after the event. I am grieving for our over-consumption of resources resulting in an increasingly fragile environment and increasing poor. I am grieving that there is such continued imbalance of power, not through legitimate means, but instead through manipulation and dishonesty. I am grieving that this is so often a cause for celebration, rather than a wake up call to compassionate change.
And in this grieving and attachment, I feel disconnected. I feel disconnected to this world, where life is seen as so fragmented – where people entertain the idea of the “other” – where violence is seen as normal and in some cases even morally right and even a “necessary evil” – where for a matter of convenience we can look the other way, even as so many unnecessarily starve to death. I grieve that I have played a part in this just as anyone else has. I grieve, because Life itself is grieving. I grieve, because I am, indeed, connected to this world. I grieve, because I so love the people in this world. I grieve, because I long for people to stop and remember their nobility, their Divine Heritage as children of God, of Life, of Love – however you want to define or frame it. We are better than the violence, we are better than the overconsumption, we are better than the indifference, and we are better than fear.
I remember, I read quite some time ago when I began my meditation practice – specifically Metta, or loving-kindness meditation and with it a practice called Tonglen – that it isn’t unusual for a practitioner to become more aware and in touch with sadness…because even in its joy and beauty, life is always tinged with what I would call a sacred sadness. It isn’t just in Buddhism where this is recognized, just look to the artwork of Christianity where Jesus is depicted pointing to his exposed and Sacred Heart. Or even to the story of the crucifixion itself, where it is implied that it wasn’t just the wounds but the great burden of carrying within himself the brokenness of life that extinguished his. Loving until the heart itself breaks. As our heart opens to the world, we begin to see and connect to the pain of the world – pain we have participated in and pain we have been victims of. This coming of age to pain, this befriending of sadness, is an opportunity for compassion.
So I sat on the meditation cushion this very day, my breath interrupted by the thoughts listed above. I sat, with my heart heavy, my emotions ready and raw. And all I could do was what my practice continues to teach, what the Buddha taught 2500 years ago, and what Jesus encouraged with every person he encountered – begin anew. Beginning anew – coming back to my breathing, connecting my mind with my body, and in doing so reminding myself to live as a Whole being, a being of compassion, a partner to Life, a child of Love.
And I was reminded what it means to begin anew. It is our way of saying “yes” to Life with our life. It is our way of aligning ourselves with Life itself, of saying we are not separate, rather we are partners. It is our way of living Love, of acting with compassion.
It is a given that we need Life…but have you ever thought that Life, in fact, needs you? That this may bring meaning to why you are still breathing? That this may bring inspiration and motivation to why you are still here, to say in continuance – Yes, yes, and again, yes.
We fall, we rise. This is the pattern. The New Year is a wonderful way to ritualize this, but then again, so is each breath that we take.
May this New Year be blessed with many new beginnings as our hearts continue to open to Life and in service to compassion. Here is the blessing I shared on Facebook for New Years, may it be so:
“May you know your own beauty and sacredness just as you are. May you feel understood and valued. May you continue to learn, grow and open to all of what Life offers you. May you still experience peace when troubled, healing when wounded, patience when angered, and joy after sadness. And most of all, may you know that you are loved.”