love is it…

The message of Christmas is so much more radical than the welcome and beneficial sentiments of warmth and familial love.

That a small refugee infant with parents trying to find safe haven in a foreign country, fleeing from their home and the danger there, poor and homeless, would become a symbol of divine and sacred love, a messenger of peace and generosity of heart, speaking truth to power, standing up for the vulnerable and powerless, giving space and attention to the outsider, the outcast.

An incredible message and life changing if we open our hearts to it.

We need this Christmas message today.

May it strike our hearts at their core, opening us to love all, including and most especially the refugee, the homeless, the foreigner, the poor, the vulnerable and outcast.

May it be so.

And may you and your family and friends have a Merry Christmas.

Wishing you all that is beautiful and beneficial today and everyday.

May you be happy, may you be safe and at ease, and may you be free from suffering.

~j

12.25.17

#Christmas #NoBansNoWalls #TheLongArc #PlantingSeeds #LoveWins

rethinking violence…

 

Sitting with this quote, recently: “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent” (by Isaac Asimov) and I thought, “Should we expand our definition of violence?”

 

I think we often view violence through a rather restrictive lens of war and aggressive, physical assault.  However, is it truly too far a reach to suggest that words or actions that cause harm, injury, or death are also a form of violence?

 

Isn’t it violent to legislate healthcare out of the reach of the elderly, the poor, the ill?

Isn’t it violent to deprive food from children and the elderly, by cutting the programs on which they depend?

Isn’t it violent to marginalize an “other” (fill in the blank) virtually placing a target stirring fear and hate?

 

The poor, the elderly, the ill, the undocumented, the marginalized (including Muslims and LGBTQ) are easy targets for leadership that is incompetent.

 

We harm or we benefit. 

 

So, what do we do?

 

We bear witness.  We speak up.  We speak truth to power.  We stand and we walk in solidarity with those who suffer, the marginalized and oppressed.

 

But perhaps, even more importantly…

 

We begin with ourselves, and our own hearts and minds.  Am I willing to work for resolutions in my own life that best benefit the big picture, the long arc?  Am I willing to call upon my most creative and innovation potential to benefit all those around me and not just myself?  Am I willing to serve?  Am I willing to be vulnerable?  Am I willing to understand and embrace empathy?  Am I willing to love?

 

~j

03.22.17

 

Sustenance…what gives Life to your life?

Solidarity Thursdays
Thursday, December 6th 2012

Question Enso

Sustenance…what gives Life to your life?

There are more than a few ways to look at sustenance and what it means in our lives, I suppose.

Fuel for life…

The most basic way to look at sustenance, and yet no less important than any other way – in fact most important when in relation to our biology – is food. We have all heard the numbers. Unless you’re Gandhi (who quite famously survived a near starvation fasting of 21 days without food at the age of 77) most people can only make it two weeks without food. And we diminish even more quickly without water. Although there are always exceptions based on one’s general health and outside factors like climate, etc. – in general, most people cannot make it any longer than a week without water. It is interesting isn’t it? We are mostly made of water, yet we are unable to retain or store it. We are in a somewhat constant state of needing to replenish it. We are built to be in a constant state of want, of need, of assistance. We are not able to survive, biologically, independent of other life. We need water and food to survive; we need water and food to sustain biological life.

And although it will not be the focus of my blog today, I would be remiss to not mention the impact this need has on the geo-political landscape – what it means for this world to have resources unevenly distributed – what it means to the world to have so much poverty and famine, for some to have so much and for others to have so little. It is important that we ask ourselves, “What do I need to biologically, to chemically, sustain this life?”

We should reflect on our consumption. Perhaps, to dump the two terms – sustenance and consumption – into our melting pot minds and swirl them around a bit. The very few of us (by world population standards), consume much much more than we need to sustain our lives biologically. And even though it is uncomfortable to recognize this, it is important to be aware that our over consumption has a cost – loss of life elsewhere. Life consumes life. This isn’t a guilt trip. We should feel gratitude that we live where we live, to have been born in a region of such privilege. This should also produce some humility, knowing we didn’t cause ourselves to be born into a country of such privilege. But I think it is healthy and beneficial to recognize, while some others are just barely sustaining their life with a few spoonfuls of rice and grain a day, we tell ourselves that we need a Venti at Starbucks, because a Grande or Tall just doesn’t cut it. (confessional: I’m guilty of this) It is also important to become aware of what this need of others, and imbalance of resources does to our heart. Are our hearts called to compassion as we see so many suffer under famine caused by drought or oppression? If we are lovers of peace, are we able to recognize that this imbalance, these conditions of starvation and famine, often lead to unrest and violence? This isn’t just for followers of Jesus (who, perhaps, was most clear on this proclamation); it is true for anyone with or without a spiritual practice: if we want to be authentically and fully human, we must align ourselves with the poor.

After all, we don’t live on bread (or water) alone…

So your belly is fat and you are happy, now what? You don’t have to look far to see statistics that even in this fast-paced land of plenty we suffer from multiple health issues and have had a rise in anxiety and depression. Something is missing. To paraphrase the well known and celebrated Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh – A tree is simply content with being a tree. A tree doesn’t try to be anything else, it just is. LightColorTree2 (2)We aren’t trees and don’t seem to be content with just being (perhaps, we’ll get there some day). There seems to be a deep yearning and desire within us for meaning. The great wrestling with God, the existential questioning that we humans seem to be a unique in experiencing here on this tiny blue planet. We are often and consistently asking ourselves what it means to be human, why are we here, where did we come from, etc. etc. We are always asking each other upon meeting, what it is that we do. We set off to colleges and universities to find what it is we want to do with our lives….and it better be successful (whatever that means). One might say that we should change our name to human-doers rather than human-beings.

And we often find ourselves and find great value, meaning, and insight from what we do and what we experience. We find what keeps us going, what inspires and motivates us in life, we become aware of what sustains us. Perhaps it is our art. I think the majority of artists would indeed feel like they have died, if they were unable to create. Perhaps it is our romance. Having a broken heart, always feels like death. You should try it, it is good practice.

For what it is worth, we seem programmed to eat from the Tree of Knowledge and leave the Garden. We have to leave, to return. We have to Fall, to Rise again. There is no fault here, no mistake. It is a journey into God, into Life, into Love, into one’s Self. It is written upon the heart…so it is good to wrestle with these questions, to set off on the quest. It is good to listen for that calling and to search out meaning. For many of us, this is what sustains us – this is our sustenance – our art, our love, our passion. It is what keeps us going.

monkmoon

The fingers are not the Moon…

There is a Zen story of the Sixth Patriach Huineng who in talking to a nun about the meaning of things, said, “Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?”

So what does sustain us? What is our sustenance? It can be said that all of the things above are such. Food and water sustain our bodies, keeping our mechanics in motion. Our passion, our desire, our searching fuels our spirit and keeps us living, and gives meaning to our life…but these are simply fingers and not the Moon.

You have to find the Moon for yourself. Each of us does. However, I will share what I believe the Moon is for me.

I do believe that the underlying sustenance, that which sustains us, is in fact the quest to be like the tree, to be. To be known, to be understood, to be loved as we are without having to achieve, having to impress, having to earn. While doing may fuel the spirit, it is in being that the soul finds its rest and peace.

So would it help if I simply said to you
that you are okay,
that you are already complete
and Whole?

Would it give you comfort and rest,
to know that you have
nothing to earn or achieve –
that you are beautiful as you are,
that you are understood and loved?

Would it fulfill your purpose and life
to know that you are,
like the tree,
in your own way,
uniquely rooted in the rich soil of this earth?

and yet so exquisitely,
like the tree,
stretched toward the warmth
of the Sun?

I did not think so.

So, journey on, beloved friends
And may those fingers,
perfect as they are,
point you to the Moon…

For more reading on this Solidarity Thursday topic, please check out these wonderful blogs: Ben at The Horizontalist, Esther at Church in the Canyon, and with a unique perspective, Triskaidekapod.