Love Lights

1128 1 editedWhen the Sun of compassion arises
darkness evaporates
and the singing birds come from nowhere.”
Amit Ray, Nonviolence, The Transforming Power

It’s difficult watching and listening to the news lately. Difficult to sort out fact from fiction. A challenge to balance our personal hopes and dreams with the hopes and dreams of others. A struggle sometimes to balance what we enjoy with the health of the planet.

 In my class of preschoolers we talk about the light that is in each one of us. We call this our “Love Light”. This is the light that illuminates us from within. This same light is in everyone. All of us. The people we love. The people who uplift us and bring us joy. The people we have shared experiences with. The people we do not feel love towards. The people whose experiences we cannot grasp. The people we don’t understand. The people we fear. The people who hurt us.

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This is an inner light of love and compassion. It is what illuminates all that is good in us, all that is nurturing in us. All that is humane in us. It is the light that shines in darkness and fear. Our Love Light ignites our love for fellow beings. It lights up tenderness, generosity, empathy and hope. It allows us to wish for the dreams of others come true just as we wish for our own dreams to come true. Like a sun lighting up the dark morning sky, our Love Light is the light of our heart and soul that radiates out with an open hand of love, goodwill, compassion, acceptance, hope and trust.

“See the light in others, 
and treat them as if that is all you see.”
~Wayne Dyer

Somewhere along the way I wonder if we have forgotten how to see that light in each other. If maybe we have come to believe not everyone has a light worth seeing.

The other day in yoga during shavasana, it was very quiet and still. For  a moment I rested in that wonderfully nested place of safety, quiet, stillness, calm, awareness and was what I can only define as being present in the moment. Fears, worries, anxieties, thoughts, hopes, dreams…all those things were shuttered away somewhere and not raising their chattering heads and voicing their distracting opinions.

As my body slowly but surely softened, something in me just stopped. This is important because this is when all the thinking stops. The mind chatter stops. The anxiety ceases. The fears melt. The unknown and the what is not knowable doesn’t matter.

At the end of the class, with my heart, mind and body in this space of stillness, my teacher read:

“There is only one light shining through every person’s eyes.
When you look into that light in others, your mind falls silent.
The two of you share that one light and melt into a profound experience.”

~Swami Nirmalananda

There it was. Light. One, common and shared light. We have to remember to look towards, and at each other, not away from each other. Right in the eyes. To see that Love Light. We have to allow ourselves the trust and space to melt into each other. We have to stop  and look into the eyes of each other. Every “other”. We have to honor the one light that is shining through every person’s eyes. And then maybe we will all hear the same thing; Amit Ray’s singing birds.

 

Washing

“Keep close to Nature’s heart…
and break clear away, once in awhile,
and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.
Wash your spirit clean.”
John Muir

I love being outside, yet sometimes I resist that love and stay inside. After all, I have things to do. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, work related things, doing nothing in particular, letting the cat sleep on me, drawing, reading, tidying up, catching up on TV shows, being at work, writing for this blog. The list is endless and mostly trivial. Yet, some days I still resist going outside.

When I break away and out, and feel the wind on my face, smell the fresh air, feel the heat or cold, get wet from rain, feel hidden in the fog, receive a kiss from the sun, hear a bird sing or watch a chipmunk play, I am transformed. I often feel I am healed. Perspective returns. Priorities become clear.

“Give away the things you don’t need
Let it all go and you’ll soon see
And you’ll wash your spirit clean
Wash your spirit clean
Go and pray upon a mountain
Go and pray beside the ocean
And you’ll wash your spirit clean
Wash Your spirit clean
Be grateful for the struggle
Be thankful for the lessons
And you’ll wash your spirit clean”

Lyrics ‘Wash Your Spirit Clean’, Walela

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Give away the things you don’t need. That probably includes the computer and TV!! But more subtly and I think, more importantly, it means to give away resentment, fear, desire, want, worry, doubt, anger, regret, some of the stories we tell ourselves over and over.

I “pray”, but I do not pray as in a petition to God. I pray as in sending “energy” into the world. My foundation and inspiration is the Metta Prayer. With many variations it says, ” May all beings be safe. May all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be healthy. May all beings be loved. May all beings be filled with Loving Kindness.” I pray that I may be responsible for acting in ways that will make these things happen. I pray to be aware and mindful. I pray that I will be kind and compassionate. I pray that I will be quiet so I can hear. Still so I can observe. I pray that I may understand that the struggles and the lessons in life are things to be thankful for. They are how I learn, change, grow.

In Nature my spirit is washed clean. I am soaked, scrubbed, restored and hung out to air dry. I can feel the weight of all those stories I make up about myself and others, all the resentments, fears, desires, wants, worries, doubts, anger, regrets… all of them being washed and rinsed out of the fabric of my being. Sometimes I find I was not even aware of how dingy, stained and faded my thoughts, being, spirit had become.

When Nature has cleansed my spirit, my prayer becomes a continuous prayer. It becomes a living prayer.

Nature allows my senses to come alive. I can fall down in the snow and let the cold make me shiver.  I can feel the wind and the rain on my skin . I can hear the waves break along the shore and the birds sing. I can hear the tree branches creaking and leaves crunching under foot. Looking up there is the insane pairing of colors at sunset and the humbling expanse of the Milky Way. I swat at a mosquito and watch a butterfly. The smell of roses and lilacs require me to close my eyes, overcome by sheer pleasure. I allow myself to be immersed in Nature and my spirit is washed clean.

And then, the dirty dishes just are. The laundry just is. The crying child is only that. A long day is over. Being tired is nothing more than that. Good/bad disappear. Dreams of a new sports car, a bigger house, a new pair of shoes don’t seem to matter so much. Grandma never remembering my name, someone saying something mean, a person not living up to my expectations, me not living up to someones else’s expectations don’t really matter any more. Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated at work melts away. Desire to be in control, to be in charge, to be right, to look and act strong and determined don’t seem so important. The stories repeated of how smart, clever, kind, important, creative I am just seem silly. Memories can become that…things in the past that do not have to impact this moment. I can just be in this moment.

When I go out into Nature perspective is restored. My spirit is soaked, washed and rinsed….the weight of worry, disappointment, desire are all swept away as my spirit is washed clean. I am lighter, softer, more flexible….I flow and swirl.

Do I get all this right all the time? Nope. Do I falter and stumble? Yup. Will I stop/give up? No. Do I keep trying? Sure do.

Wash your spirit clean. Over and over again.

After thought: many of you tell me via email, Facebook, in person how much you enjoy reading these posts. Some of you even go as far as to say they help you look at things differently, or think about things differently. I sincerely wish you  would consider sharing your thoughts in the comment section of the blog post itself. I feel so strongly we have to have dialog to help each other maneuver through tough times. I learn a lot from all of you…even, and especially if you have differing thoughts and opinions. There is more to be gained in sharing what we think with one another in a respectful manner than in being silent. Regardless, thank you for your kind words and support.

What Grounds Me

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Over the years I have journeyed down several different paths hoping to find peace of mind and peace of heart. I have been blessed with a life that has not made too many difficult demands or presented too many roadblocks. Still, for me, it is helpful to have a “prayer” to use. In my case “prayer” as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “an earnest request or wish”. I try to begin each day with a centering of some kind to get the day going, and then a different focus at night to let the day go and find peaceful rest.

I grew up the daughter of an Episcopal minister. I went to church on Sundays, Sunday school classes, confirmation classes and was confirmed. I understand it is not just about comfort, but I never found comfort in any of this. There was never a stirring in my heart from any of this. No song that wanted to sing out in joy, praise, humility. Anything.

In a previous post I wrote a bit about this:
https://kathrynwonders.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/be-soft/

Over the years I have tried this and that. I’m not really able to articulate what I was looking for. It was not about a supreme Being. Maybe not even about “spirituality”. More of a path that I could walk on in kindness, compassion, empathy and love. Free from fear, hate, judgement, right or wrong, self pride. For myself and for others.

As I sit here now, if I had to, I guess I would call what I practice, the path I try to follow, Loving Compassion. It’s just about trying to be a “good” person, a caring person, a loving and compassionate person. Someone who tries to cause no harm.

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My “prayer” for many years now has been The Metta Prayer.

There are some variations, but each one has the same pattern: a prayer for yourself, a prayer for someone you love, a prayer for a mentor or someone you do not know well, but see often, a prayer for someone you struggle with and a prayer for all beings everywhere.

It is humbling to include all these people in my prayer and thoughts. It takes time to be comfortable in beginning with myself….but if I am not “taken care of” by myself, how can I take care of others?

And it helps me to ground myself in this moment. It connects me to others. It helps me embrace all others, no matter what. I can always wish for others, and myself, happiness, peace, health, love.

May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
May I be happy. 
May I be at ease.

Begin with yourself. This is often hard at first…..we tend to take care of others before ourselves. But we have to. After being offering this kindness to yourself, change the prayer to focus on someone you care about and love unconditionally. Imagine them sitting in front of you. Say their name. And then move on to someone who plays any role in your life, but you do not have a strong relationship with…maybe the cashier at the grocery, the parking lot attendant, the mail carrier….someone you see and interact with often. Or, perhaps it could be someone who is a mentor to you in some way. Someone you have regular contact with. Say their name, visualize their face. Now move on to someone you have difficulty with. To forgive, understand and accept is difficult. It may be a struggle, but don’t give up….And finally, your love flows out to the world.

May all beings be safe, healthy, happy, at ease.

When we wrap ourselves in love and care, and embrace others with the same, something changes in us.

I began this years ago before going to bed. A way of closing the the day and letting go in order to find rest and renewal in sleep. I began at a time when I was having the relatively new emotions of anger, hurt and resentment towards someone who had been an important part of my life for many years. The burden was so heavy. I had to find a way to work towards acceptance and forgiveness. I found that this worked very well, although it took time. I discovered it also changed me in other ways. As I gave directed thoughts of love and kindness to others in my daily life, I softened and found a quietness and calmness in life. It also reflected back to me in the way others interacted with me.

When I wish all others safety, good health, love, happiness and peace, it helps me find the bond with all others….every person, everywhere, hopes for and deserves these things by virtue of our shared humanness. They are no different from me.

There are many variations of the words and if this is of interest to you I encourage you to do some research and find the version that speaks to you.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjfCS88Gc7Q

Love Liberates

I missed posting yesterday because I was painting my classroom. I didn’t have to paint it. I wanted to. A friend stopped by and asked why I was doing it and not someone else. I was a little dumb-founded. I was doing it on Labor Day weekend no less, because I love my job, the children I am privileged to teach and the parents who put their trust in me. I was doing it to create a space of beauty, comfort and security for the children and adults who spend their day with me. I did it out of love. It wasn’t even something someone else could do. I had to do it. It came from me.

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
Maya Angelou

path

Love. It comes down all paths. Through all people.  It crosses oceans. It does not begin just at birth or end at death. Love leaves us sometimes in puddles of tears. It also propels us up seemingly insurmountable mountains. Love opens doors. Sometimes love teaches us that it is time to close one door so that we can open another. But it is always a door to love.

“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious.
The desire to reach hearts is wise.”
Maya Angelou

I. Cannot. Stand. The. Amount. Of. Hate. And. Fear. That. Is. Thrust. Upon. Us. From. All. Sides. These. Days.

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world,
but has not solved one yet.”
Maya Angelou

I cannot stand the phobias. The righteous indignation. The call for war. The call for walls. The call to be armed. The rant of anti Islam, gay, trans-gendered….anti people.

“Love recognizes no barriers.
It jumps hurdles, leaps fences,
penetrates walls to arrive
at its destination
full of hope.”
Maya Angelou

I choose love. And let me tell you, there are people who make it hard to love them.

Maya Angelou talks about love. It liberates. Yes, it does.

Please listen:

 

One more….shorter:

http://www.oprah.com/own-master-class/Dr-Maya-Angelou-Love-Liberates-Video

My door is open. My heart is open.

“In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave.
And suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be.
Yet it is only love which sets us free.”
Maya Angelou

Empathy

Waiting for a snow storm. A light snow has begun. It is soft and light. The world seems softer.

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It takes me about a week to write a post for this blog. The one I was working on for today will be a beautiful one when it is done, but that is not going to happen this week. I’ve gotten caught up in all the things I write about—-worry, self doubt, sadness, anger, resentment. Work was hard this week, and I feel a bit worn down. These thoughts and emotions have interfered with the blog post I intended for this week, and I can’t seem to finish it.

BUT!!! I saw this short video on Facebook, and thought it was charming and important. It is on the Power of Empathy. I needed the reminder. I may not get the empathy from some that would be most welcomed, but I can still extend empathy forward to them. I’m trying.

How do you feel about empathy?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

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“I think over again my small adventures
My fears, those small ones that seemed so big
For all the vital things I had to get and reach
And yet there is only one great thing
The only thing
To live to see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world.”

– Unknown Inuit

Another year on the calendar has cycled through. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions….a commitment to starting the New Year fresh and with purpose. Sometimes we say these hopes out loud, sometimes not. Many of us joke, wondering how long before we break the promises we have made to ourselves.

I’ll make mine again…..

This year my resolution is to be present in the moment. As in the poem above, I want to be aware of and attentive to the blessing of life, the wonder of the rising sun, of light filling the world and of each and every moment. I want these things to be the stepping stones for each day. The path that guides me.

I will remind myself when I become worried and anxious, that the fears that may seem so huge and painful now, may not still feel that way after some time has passed.

I will put into perspective the things I hope to attain and achieve and put effort into remembering what is important at the end of the day.

Somewhere along the way, over the years, it’s been easy to fall into the habit of thinking right now is not enough. I’m not saying it is not important to work towards some things, but rather to put thought into what is important. Each of us measure success and happiness in different ways. On occasion, we may find ourselves wondering, after having reached the thing or event that we thought would make us happy, why that sense of happiness seemed so fleeting, so short lived. We find ourselves planning to attain some other milestone we believe will be the key to true, long lasting happiness.

At the end of the day I want to be able to look back on the day and to see that I was truthful, kind, compassionate, of service to someone, contributed something to a larger group/society. I hope to be able to say I was patient, gentle, a good listener. Add to that gratitude that my body was nourished with food and water. I will remember I have shelter and clothing to protect me. I will be thankful that my mind was engaged and active, and hopefully I learned something new. At the end of the day as I take inventory I know my family will be first on the list of people to rejoice having in my life.

Someone asked the other day if I was happy. I was a little taken aback. Not because I wasn’t happy, but because what I was experiencing was contentment, peacefulness. I was fulfilled in the heart, grateful, healthy. Maybe those are the ingredients to happiness…. What does happiness mean to you? What is “happiness”? How do you define it? Attain it? Measure it?

I’ve shed a lot of anger and resentment over the years. I just became tired of the burden of carrying them around. I owned up to my feelings, expressing them all. Then I said good bye to them and pushed them out the door and shut it. I feel lighter. I don’t miss the weight, the emotions, the hurt. It was a lot of work. I had to give up falling into the trap of dwelling in the darkness of old memories, emotions, hurt and anger. I had to work at knowing it was ok, for me, to let them go. Those things would no longer define me. They would no longer hold me captive. I still work on this…

Now I really try to be in this moment. To be attentive to what is happening. Trying not to place labels on those experiences…just letting them be. Good or bad, happy or sad, relaxed or anxious. It just is what it is. When it passes, which it will, it will be over and gone. Done. Anything that remains or lingers is of my own doing. Anticipation and effort towards something is often exhilarating and I embrace that. Memories are what they are, but for me I find they tend to morph one way or the other. They either become more significant than the real event, or more distorted and painful as my ego creates an ever expanding fictional interpretation of the story it is currently reliving. What is real at the moment is THIS moment. Not the moment before, or the moment coming next. Only this one moment.

I know this isn’t for everyone. We all have our own paths to walk on. We all struggle to make past, present and future have meaning and purpose. Some of us have hurt, pain and anger that are very strong. Others don’t even think like this.

I’m on a journey towards awareness, an adventure to being attentive to the present moment. This year my morning meditation will be based on this quote from John O’Donohue’s “Connemara Blues”:

“I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.”

To awaken and unfold afresh each day and to live in moments filled with surprise and wonder sounds pretty extraordinary to me.

Peace to you all. And Happy New Year.

Be Soft

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard.
Do not let pain make you hate.
Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness…”
~ Kurt Vonnegut

sunrise 924 1

(sunrise, photograph by me)

I was very fortunate to be able to do quite a bit of traveling with my father, a minister. One of the most powerful trips was to India.  On this particular trip my father was to mentor a group of college students in a Comparative Religions course.  India is home to 4 of the world’s great religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. I was in my middle teens, and not particularly interested in comparative religions. I knew precious little about any of the these religions. But in India you are not given the option of not caring about religion. You can not escape religion. It greets you in the morning, at every corner you turn and is the the last thought you have when your eyelids fall silently on your cheeks at night. The brightness of religion in India makes you squint your eyes from brilliant glare of color and light. The smell of religion in India is overpowering with burning funeral pyres, dung fires and the pungent smell of marigolds strung into garlands intermingled with the heady aroma of jasmine. Religion in India fills your ears with ringing all the time with the sounds of humanity: crying, singing, begging and praying. Religion in India coats your taste buds with slippery ghee butter made from the milk of the sacred cow.

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(Ganges River, Varanasi India, photo by me. People come here to bath their sins away, to be purified by the water, to cure illness, to die here, to make a pilgrimage and be here once in your life is a priority)

In Nepal, you are nearly at the entrance of heaven above….there is no sight like the Himalayan mountains. No air so pure. No sky so blue. When I was there, Kathmandu was almost sleepy. Religion was everywhere. In fact, the eye of “God” was always gazing at you from atop the white and gold stupa.  The “wisdom eyes”  look out in the four directions to symbolize the omniscience (all-seeing) of a Buddha, enlightened one. Giant prayer wheels spun endlessly and tirelessly, sending prayers to the heavens and the Gods above. Prayer flags hung from buildings, doorways, trees…..fluttering wishes and hopes to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. And here, the most beautiful greeting, freely given to any and all, “Namaste”, the light in me honors the light in you. Here I did feel close to “something” divine.

I lived in Greece on the island of Crete for awhile when I was 19 and 20. Religion there was also inescapable. Crete is home to possibly the oldest civilization known. Full of mythology and brilliantly colored frescoes, the ruins speak of a life that revolved around trying to understand and tame the unknown.Women played an important role in culture and religion. In Crete orthodox icons are everywhere. There are saints, crosses, the Virgin Mary, Christ’s birth and Christ’s death, all painted in brilliant colors flecked with gold. They hang in churches, homes, places of business and on the front of doors and buildings.  Baaaing, whimpering lambs are carried onto buses during high holidays and served with pride and solemnity. Perhaps reminiscent of sacrifices in the past. During Holy Days parades and festivals clog the streets, people sing and dance, and bow and pray. Priests dressed in silks and gowns lead parades with floats of the Virgin Mary. Candles spread the light of hope and faith and the flame is passed from one to another as “Peace to you” is bestowed with kisses on both cheeks. Incense fills your nostrils and lingers with you in your hair, clothes and skin for days.

After I was married I lived in Japan. Here religion is a bit quieter but no less brilliantly beautiful. Temples well over a thousand years old are adorned with gold and silver. Pristine gardens for silent contemplation are  alive with moss that looks like velvet. Other gardens are almost barren, with raked gravel in intricate pattern with no hint of footprint or tool that was used to make them.  An occasional twisted, serpentine tree or huge boulder dot the pattern. Temples are entered barefoot. On occasion giant temple bells weighing over 100 tons and 30 feet high, are struck with a tree trunk held by 20 monks. The vibrating deep tones can sometimes be heard 30 miles away. The chanting of sutras, which means the thread that binds things together, brings to the present the spoken words of Buddha and honors the history of the oral traditions. Meditation offers a way to for the mind to engage in calm-abiding and “clear seeing”. Song and prayer are replaced with meditation and chanting.

In these four countries I had to pay attention. I was wrapped in the mythology, history, ritual, and dogma of religion like a baby is wrapped in a swaddling cloth.

These experiences opened a door to curiosity. I walked through.

Fast forward. Forty years later. India remains in my thoughts daily. India ignited the spark of my interest in world religions. I still process India. Every. Single. Day.

Recently I let go of my early religious upbringing. For years I knew I could no longer embrace what was my father’s belief. I tried very hard. Very hard. But, I remember as a child not being able to get “on board.” I rebelled whenever I could.  Sunday school teachers did not like my questions. The nun who lead communion classes didn’t like my questions.  I wore a red plaid wool jumper to my confirmation….the Bishop was not pleased. My father hugged me.

Now, like the quote above, my “religion” revolves around being soft. Not hard. Pain and suffering does not give rise to hate. No thing can turn sweetness to bitterness. It is a choice I make. I do not practice submission or devotion. There is no imploring or petitioning. When I “pray” it is more of an internal, deeply personal song to the mystery of things I do not understand, to the magnificence found in nature, to the bond of our common humanity. When I am still, and quiet it is self inquiry that moves me forward and challenges me to be compassionate.

In Softness I stand in awe of the beauty of Nature. In Softness I find peace in silence. I Softness I do not fear death or “where” I will “go” when i “die”. In Softness I value compassion, kindness. My path is to love, be gentle and offer comfort and support. My focus is on the moment, of being present. This is moment I have to Be. THIS is the moment I have.

“My path is the path of stopping, the path of enjoying the present moment. It is a path where every step brings me back to my true home. It is a path that leads nowhere. I am on my way home. I arrive at every step.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh

Going Away Is Like Going Nowhere

We just returned home from a wondrous vacation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan along the shores of Lake Superior. Nothing could have prepared me for the experience.  It gave new meaning to “going away”.

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(Miner’s Castle, Munising, MI. Photo by me)

Sometimes when my husband and I talk about meditation we use the words “going away”. We each approach our practice of meditation from slightly different paths…but both involve inquiry and mindfulness. “Going away” refers to sensations of time, anxiety, thoughts/mind chatter fading from prominence. It is as if we stop paying attention to the part (ego) of ourselves that occupies day to day life. Sensations, momentary life experiences go back to something simpler…..almost to a  pre-language level. There is no need to know anything. Sense of self becomes something curious instead of something important. Yet, it also approaches something much bigger….pure no separation, constantly changing existence……

I recently had a very profound experience during meditation….something that really changed my thinking, my awareness, expectations, my “goals”, my desires for what I hoped meditation would bring to me. It took me by surprise. I wondered if  I would ever have that experience again. I wanted to. Shortly after that experience I had a kind of opening up and realized I did not have to long for the recreation of that one experience, I could in fact have that awareness all the time….now, in two minutes, during bouts of doubt and frustration, in the middle of deep joy and moments of peacefulness. It was all the same.

This vacation to Lake Superior was similar. Up there it is remote, slow moving, quiet, wild…..leaving nothing to do or process, only to experience. To be with what was. The experience was more along the lines of “going nowhere”.  Just being.  Just being mindful of the one moment. I was where I was, and that was what I tried to present with. As Joan Tollifson says, “the boundary-line between “meditation” and “the rest of our lives” dissolves. We discover that aware presence is actually what Here / Now is, the ever-present ground.”

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(Grand Marias, MI. Photo by me)

The experience of being in the UP allowed for me to surrender to the simplicity of undiluted sensory experience. Not so unlike the experience I had during meditation. It was being present in the here and now. Awake. No divisions created by words, labels, ideas, interpretations….only what is. The mental realm gave way to the non conceptual realm.

“This kind of wakefulness isn’t something apart from the rest of your life that you just do once a day while sitting on a cushion in the lotus position.  It is your whole life.”

Joan Tollifson

Going away to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan was like going nowhere. It just was. I just was. In that place and time, in that moment, the present moment. It was all about the here/now. It was about being awake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Simplicity Of What Is

I have never met or studied with Joan Tollifson, but through a round about way I have “discovered” her. I feel a little like I have a crush on her…..shhhhh, don’t tell anyone. I love her thinking, her writing, her vulnerability. I love the way she makes me think. Not think like, “oh what should I have for dinner?”, but THINK. More like, “Why I am I trying to escape from this moment?”, and stuff like that.

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(sunrise, by me)

These days, the world is so full of anger, violence, hurt, fear. So many, many things are happening to others all around the world. Things that are  hard to imagine ever happening to us. It is hard to understand….

If you followed my other blog, Potentiality, ( kathrynthinks.wordpress.com ), you know the journey I have been on the last couple of years and I how I have changed/evolved/whatever it is called.

Recently, I find myself struggling during the day–kind of confused. Unsettled. I am a Montessori Preschool teacher. I spend my day with 21 little people ages 3-6. Life for them is about fun, playing, fairness, learning, exploring, crying, being sad, laughing, singing, missing their mom or dad, frolicking in the mud and rain, feeding the goats and our pig…….I come home covered with dust, grass stains, tears, paint, clorox, snot (sorry, but its true), little bits of juicy lunch items. Some days I come home filled with love, humility, wonder, satisfaction, contentment, joy, sadness, frustration, worry…… Then I come home, to my “adult” world. Bills to pay, sick pets, dishes in the sink, a leaky roof, a flat tire, wandering through grocery stores, laundry piles, dinner to cook, balancing time with taking care of myself and taking care of others.

Then…..I enter the “real” world beyond “my” world. News. Some nights I can’t watch. Some nights I cry. On occasion I laugh, but not often enough. Sometimes I hear about something beautiful, wonderful, compassionate, joyful. Then I have to process it all.

Today the news is about Gaza and Israel, shot down passenger planes, contaminated rivers, drug resistant disease, threats of being killed if you choose not to convert to one religion and give up another, fear of people, fear of disease, fear of fear, fear of drought, flooding, tornadoes, fear of being murdered by those charged with your safe keeping, fear of kidnapping, of mutilation, fear of foreigners, anger, more fear, more anger, more fear, more anger. Fear. Fear. Mostly more fear.

Then I read Joan Tollifson and there is this almost incomprehensible sentence, ” And it’s a wonderful way to live—to come back to the simplicity of what is, not once-and-for-all or forever-after (those are stories), but right now.” And, “… to be curious about what troubles us, to go to heart of our suffering, to take the next breath and to let it go, to dissolve again and again into the utter simplicity of the Heart.”

How are those sentences applicable to the broken hearts burying dead loved ones who were killed because a rocket flattened their house, or a bomb landed on their school,  their plane was shot down, or because they were of the “wrong” religion, or from the “wrong” country, or because they wore, or didn’t wear a burkah, or  because they “looked” like they were dangerous, or because they were mentally ill, or because they said no to a rapist…..how do they live in the “simplicity of what is right now”? How do they “let go” and “dissolve into the utter simplicity of the Heart”?

I sure don’t know. And this is my struggle. If I am able to be present in this one moment right now….grounded in “my” world, am I somehow disassociating from the “truth” of the present moment of others and does that mean I don’t “care”? “Right now” for me is very different from the parents in Gaza and Israel burying a child. “Right now” for me is very different from families fleeing violence, famine, drought, leaving everything behind and risking their very lives by doing so.

This has been so difficult for me that I wrote to Joan…..and she responded: “meet it with love. Love doesn’t turn away. It doesn’t blame or hate. It is the open heart, willing to be completely broken. And from that place, intelligent action (or non-action) can arise. Love is the real nonduality…love sees that this is how it is right now…bombs are falling, children are hurting, this is what the universe is doing…Love doesn’t try to avoid the pain or explain it away.”

How do we do that? Refuse to blame or hate? How do people open their hearts, knowing they may be broken over and over again…to see what IS, right now?  To take intelligent action?  ( Theparentscircle.com) For some, I know, this is not something they have allowed….it is their reality….there is no choice. And that is when I feel my own heart crack….how do they go on? How does their pain, their sorrow ever have a chance to take a breath and watch it all dissolve into the utter simplicity of the heart?  I don’t know….could you take that breath?

To hold all those broken hearts that are half a world away–those who are truly suffering, within my own heart  is what I CAN do….is it enough? To keep my heart open? To repel hate and fear?

It is most certainly a way of making sure compassion, empathy, concern, hope and love stay alive within me. And maybe also for one, or two others who know me, or read this and feel the same way.  I do not want to become indifferent, uncaring, disinterested, apathetic, detached, unsympathetic, isolated.

Love doesn’t turn away. It doesn’t hate.

 

Guess what today is? National Unity and Reconciliation