dearest friends ~
i write to you this New Year’s Eve with a heart full of gratitude for the year that has past and abundant optimism and faith in our ability to grow in Love in the year ahead…impermanence is a good thing. so much potential ready to manifest given the right circumstances. and i feel like the circumstances are chomping at the bit – ready – waiting – for us to open and surrender to Love. to let go, to let be into Love.
on one hand Love can and will do what Love can and will do…but Love is all about relationship and Love is extending a hand to a dance partner willing to dance. are we willing to take that hand?
i feel like this past year, i have had this growing aspiration to extend my hand in return. and this year i plan on honoring that more fully. for me this means, to do so in my art and writing – to be more disciplined and generous with my time to those areas of my life. for me this means, to do so with my meditation practice – getting up earlier (which means going to bed earlier) to secure that time for such devotion and practice. for you, it may mean something else entirely. perhaps based in your religious tradition or practice, or perhaps not if you do not have one. perhaps your practice in opening to Love will be through your work, or your family.
Love is calling us to dance. we may not be the ones to find a cure for cancer or some other disease – but we may hear Love call us to the bedside of a loved one, friend, or even a stranger. we may not be the one to save a life through some epic act of heroism, but we may hear Love call us to smile at a stranger, share a kind word with someone who is hurting, to open our hearts towards those outside of the majority – those targeted, those rejected by religion, state, or other powers. we may not be the ones to put an end to war, but we may hear Love call us to end our own battles and wars within our own hearts. we may hear Love call us to embody peace with our patience, our calm, our gentleness and capacity to allow life to simply be.
and it can change day to day…
a couple of days ago, it was connecting with my friend Mario who answering Love’s call shared with us the Love Button campaign to spread Love. it is such a simple, yet awesome idea. please read all about it, by clicking on the link.
and sometimes the call can surprise us. today i woke up to snow – for those that don’t know, i live in a little rural area north of San Diego, called Hidden Meadows. this area hasn’t seen snow in 47 years. i’m not talking about a light dusting – i’m talking about full on snow…for us, anyway.
this was exciting and when it calmed down a bit and some had melted away under the midday sun, i decided to take advantage of the opportunity to practice what i mentioned above and i began some walking meditation. the walking meditation out in the cold crisp air, while i was all bundled up, was exquisite and peaceful. as i walked, feeling my feet kiss the ground (as Thich Nhat Hanh has said), feeling the air fill my lungs and hearing the distant laughter of children playing in the snow, i decided to begin with some metta (or loving-kindness meditation)
may all beings be happy, be peaceful and at ease
may all beings be free from fear, from anger, from attachment, from suffering
which led into some chanting under my breath of the Tibetan compassion mantra Om Mani Padme Hum.
and then i saw it. a worm. a worm struggling on the drying cement driveway under the warming midday sun. are you rolling your eyes? well, hold off, this story gets more worthy of eye rolling. it was instantly clear to me, and convincingly so, that i could not pass the worm and ignore its perilous situation. it was clear on a profoundly simple yet concrete level that i was the worm and the worm was me (go ahead roll ’em). so…i found a little blade of dried grass to assist me in grasping the worm who would have otherwise been further tortured by my fumbling fingers. i scooped up the little me and found a shady area under a bush with some soft muddied dirt.
there. my work was done and kind of felt good about it all.
then, i saw another worm in a similar predicament, though this one looked a little worse for wear. but it isn’t my place to judge whether it was close to death or not. this new little me had movement and well, at least it could die in the shade of that bush next to the first little me, if that was its destiny. why leave it to bake? so, i followed the same protocol as i chanted Om Mani Padme Hum.
and i have to say at this point, that what happened next gave me pause. as i turned from rescuing the second little me, i saw oh so many more worms. at least a dozen. now my eyes were open. and now with my eyes open i could not close them to the suffering in front of me. are these worms any less divine? is their life any less sacred? probably not, but my hands were freezing at this point – so i got to work. slipping the blade of grass beneath the wiggly, if not writhing body, into my hand and onto the muddied dirt. then i would dip my hands under the drainage pipe for a scoop of water to keep the dirt moist…eventually covering all these little “me”s with some watery mud, giving them what i hope was a second chance at life. here are a couple of pics of a few of them partway through this effort.
i wonder what the neighbors were thinking as i walked around, up and down the driveway and road, back and forth. but it doesn’t really matter. we don’t know how, when, where, or why Love will call – and it very well may seem insignificant or silly. our only choice really is whether we answer the call or not. answering the call is honoring the soft spot in your heart, the seed of love – bodhicitta. devoting yourself to answering is the act of a Bodhisattva – one who devotes their practice, and their life (even over many lifetimes as some believe) to ending suffering.
my aspiration for 2015 is that i learn to stop, to open, and to listen a bit better. compassion is Love in action. to have compassion is to suffer with – even if the one who is suffering is a little worm, a little Buddha to be.
here below are some wonderful tools for opening up and practicing a compassionate life, from the wonderful Pema Chödrön:
THE SIX WAYS OF COMPASSIONATE LIVING
~Generosity. Giving as a path of learning to let go.
~Discipline. Training in not causing harm in a way that is daring and flexible.
~Patience. Training in abiding with the restlessness of our energy and letting things evolve at their own speed. If waking up takes forever, still we go moment by moment, giving up all hope of fruition and enjoying the process.
~Joyful enthusiasm. Letting go of our perfectionism and connecting with the living quality of every moment.
~Meditation. Training in coming back to being right here with gentleness and precision.
~Prajna (or transcendent wisdom). Cultivating an open, inquiring mind.
wishing you all a year filled with growth in Love. may your year be surrounded in friendship and peace as we journey forth together practicing compassion in this ever-changing, always beautiful life.
bows of gratitude for your friendship and for being – Happy New Year!