hearts broken open
meeting life in each moment
we carry the world
“It is not an untrammeled market economy that is going to redeem our world. It is not strategies of aggression, domination, and repression that are going to make us safe. The secret to transforming the world, the key to security and safety, lies in cooperation and collaboration. It lies in compassion for all beings in the wider web of life, and in generosity and love channeled into selfless action on behalf of people we will never know or see.”
~ Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, “An Act of Conscience”
it is, it seems to me, the courage to recognize that whether in our joy or suffering, we are One. there is no division, no duality. just One.
it is why i practice Buddhism, it is why i still love the teachings of Jesus who aligned himself with the poor and those who were outcasts. it is why i find the words of the current Pope encouraging.
and when it seems impossible to live this Compassion, to live as One, we can take comfort and encouragement in each other as we practice together.
September 11, 2013
…still so present
…still so fresh
after all of these years…
eyes frozen on images, pulling at my heart, calling on my soul to…to what? jump up? to hide? to fight?
this chest heavy, this throat tight – choked with emotion. this heart trying to hold it all…
the fear, the anger, the grief.
do me a favor will you?
let us sit. together. let us sit and invite these emotions to be our friends, our teachers, shall we?
before we act out of turn, let us allow time and space to do their work, for the fear, the anger, and the grief to shed their weight and reveal their gifts. shall we?
even as the door to our heart begins to close under the overwhelming burden of it all, even as our chests tighten again and our tears freely flow, let us allow a window in our heart to open.
a window for fear, a window for anger, a window for grief.
shall we dare?
even as we feel fear, we can allow a window in our heart to open to all others who feel fear – fear of loss, fear of age and illness, fear of death…
even as we feel anger, we can allow a window in our heart to open to all others who feel anger – anger at loss, anger at injustice, anger at feeling powerless…
even as we feel grief, we can allow a window in our heart to open to all others who feel grief – grief for loved ones gone, grief for dreams not lived, grief for the mortality of life…
shall we dare?
shall we dare Life, even in the most tragic of circumstances, to reveal Her Beauty?
if we dare to open the windows of our hearts
if we dare to allow such nakedness – such vulnerability
if we dare to open our eyes – to see how we all suffer the same fear, the same anger, the same grief…
then, even as the Lotus growing out of the mud, reaches up revealing Life’s Beauty
we, too, can grow from the darkest and most tragic places in life, revealing that we are also capable of Beauty
shall we dare?
Thursday, November 15, 2012
“Stop, look around, and see how wonderful life is: the trees, the white clouds, the infinite sky. Listen to the birds, delight in the light breeze. Let us walk as free people…”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
I was raised Lutheran, which is a denomination of the Protestant branch of Christianity. If Episcopalians are “Catholic light”, then we were even a bit “lighter” with just a few Sacraments short of the full deal. Nonetheless, giving up something for the Lenten season was a pretty regularly encouraged practice, though not rigorously enforced. It is the season of fasting bookended by Ash Wednesday at the beginning and ending with Holy Thursday or Easter Eve in some cases. It is about a six week or 40 day period to commemorate the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert. We would “fast” or give up something important to us during this period. Adults often gave up drinking alcohol and perhaps other “vices” during this time. As children, we often gave up candy or dessert or some other thing that made us resent the whole practice, leading us to see it mainly as a way for adults to oppress us further…what did candy ever do to anyone?! Just because Jesus didn’t have dessert in the desert, why can’t I? In any case, at the very least, Lent would provoke a roll of the eyes if not a fully committed grimace. Why does God want me to do without? How is this, an act of worship?
What? There’s a practical purpose to this nonsense?..
It wasn’t until the end of my early early adulthood that I began to see the subtle genius in fasting as a practice. It takes time to break habits. It takes time to create habits. There are many differing opinions regarding how long it takes to break or create a habit. It can depend on how deeply imbedded these patterns are and everyone is different. That being said, there seems to be some consensus that it can take about a month and a half…six weeks.
Here’s an example….
A number of years ago, my friend Mitch and myself discussed giving up stuff for Lent and possibly taking on a good habit or two as well. It was an opportunity for me to return to this practice as an adult and for Mitch who had not been raised with a particular religion, it was an opportunity to try it out. We took up the challenge. One of the challenges (thing to give up) was coffee. I know this is sacrilege for some, however, I knew I wasn’t addicted – I mean, I can drink a cup right before bed and then promptly lay down and go to sleep. And I knew I didn’t need coffee, so I thought it would be a no-brainer, easy-peasy, walk in the park. The first day was a breeze. None of that headache or body ache or lack of focus stuff people lament after giving up coffee. Day One = Success….then Day Two happened. Day Two began with one of the worst headaches I’ve ever had. Nothing seemed to help and somehow knowing that I still had more to gain from this experience, the headache decided to last for another two days….just to make its point. I couldn’t believe it. I had been physically addicted to coffee.
I did go back to drinking coffee, though not nearly as much since I fell in love with tea, but I learned a valuable lesson about myself and my body through fasting.
It isn’t about taking away…it is about letting go…
Now here I am today, nearing the beginning of middle adulthood, seeing my younger days in the rear view mirror and fasting has become something else. I now see fasting as an exercise, a practice in simplicity and letting go. I think this lesson is very much within the body of fasting within the Christian context and certainly a lesson within Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, or even the 40 days for Noah riding – waiting, during the flood. It can be good to surrender; it can be good to grow in our capacity to wait. But for me, it has been through the lens of my Buddhist practice – where letting go is the main theme – that I have seen and experienced this practice anew.
As a child, or as I did with my friend Mitch, it was a practice of community, of support, of accountability. Now it is a solitary practice, one in which I discover what is actually necessary, what I can do without, what is real. Fasting has become a practice of not only the letting go of physical or material things, but of looking deeper to emotions and patterns of the mind. Fasting from anger, from despair, from fear and grasping. Fasting is a way to promote simplicity and create space, so I am available to this present moment, to what is here for me now in this moment, that I may be aware and free to dance with Life and sing the song of Love with all.
When I can do this, when we can do this, we will be able as Thich Nhat Hanh says in the quote above, to walk as free people.
In the meantime, every once in a while, I will give up things like shaving…that can also feel free.
BTW ~ Fasting can also be a form of protest…perhaps another blog related to forms of protest?…
Ben at The Horizontalist is off traveling this week and will return soon. For more reading on this Solidarity Thursday topic, please check out these other wonderful blogs: Esther at Church in the Canyon. And with a truly unique take on all things Solidarity Thursday is Triskaidekapod. Join the conversation!