Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On Being in the Moment




Some things just will not last forever, or even for very long. That is just as well for some, but a seeming shame for others, especially if they hold great meaning for us. Wouldn’t we like it if something lovely could grace our eyes a bit longer…if a pink dawn could hold its spot in the morning skies before losing ground to an urgent sunrise…or a delicate dew drop could tremble just a while longer before disappearing in the approaching warmth?

Open to the great Whole....

What we come to know over time is that, when dealing with something ephemeral, we give it all our attention so that we won’t miss a stroke of its gifts. I think that some contemplative times are like that. Some days we are in such a good place, such an invitational openness, that we seem wide open to the great Whole…at least for some moments. At other times, it feels like a slog just to get quiet, but that makes the vast silence so much more beautiful when it comes to us.

Keep our attention close at hand...

Perhaps we are meant to appreciate the good and the meaningful the moment it shows up. It may not last long. Perhaps we are meant to keep our attention close at hand so that we miss none of God’s wonderful surprises. We can often be so demanding of the conditions and people in our worlds that we are trying to bend them into the shapes we want them to be. Not only is this very difficult if not impossible, but think also of the time lost in manipulating rather than participating. Who by demanding can keep the sunrise from breaking?

This moment belongs to itself...

This time, this moment belongs to itself and to us if we will enter into it, leaving our pushing and shoving at the door. The luxurious, exotic and frothy bearded iris is emergent for one day, its heightened magnificence only for hours. Let’s watch…


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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

On Real Love



We like to talk about true love, how wonderful, how precious, how longed for it is, but true love can be like a vapor, something imagined or dreamed about. Talk to me about real love, which puts footprints on the ground, real love which is centered in the act of loving. Sometimes it isn’t pretty because it can be found in the trenches of life. When I think of real love, the old platitude, “blood, sweat and tears,” comes out of mental rubric and becomes alive in the world, for real love lives in the heart that sings and also bleeds.

Real love wakes me up...

The thought of true love makes me want to listen to the love song from the movie, Titanic, when I can get all misty eyed gazing into the horizon. Real love wakes me up to the sometimes gritty demands of the day when it may need to hit the ground running. There is nothing more real about love than when you are sitting by the bedside of a loved one, quietly holding hands, keeping watch through the hours that grind along in tantalizing slowness. Sometimes the battle for health and vigor is won, sometimes not, but the act of loving is not diminished either way.

Real love holds compassion...

There is no loss when really loving, for the exercise of it cannot fail to strengthen, whatever outcomes may come to pass. Real love may hold romance and sexuality, and it may be simply the extension of one heart’s silent messages to another. Real love holds compassion in its wings. Has not the Dalai Lama said that they must occur together? Both are necessary, I think, for elevated, human living.

Real love grows dearer...

I recall old marriage vows that once spoke of embracing both sickness and health, and we will have both, but real love grows dearer when engaging in either. Real love, shared between couples, lovers, family, friends or animals makes it possible to thrive and to endure, to stretch to the heights and to crawl up from the depths.

Whether we earn multiple degrees or strive for none, real love is, I think, the greatest teacher of all.


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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

On the Long Stretches



I think all of us have experienced the long stretches in our lives when nothing much seems to be happening. When we think of these as time wasting, we’ll probably call them dry spells, but I think we’re probably not realizing what is taking place. We are all creative in some way…all of us. We may not think so if we compare ourselves with actors, singers, writers, artists…people displaying what I call the “flashier” creativities, but make no mistake…we are always hatching something! It may be a new accounting method, a new recipe or a new ways of fixing a mechanical device. This is creativity without a doubt. The thing is, we usually aren’t in a hatching mode all the time, and here is when our long stretches can kick in.

...times when the fertile fields lie fallow...

It’s a mistake to get irritated at these and not know them for what they are…times when the fertile fields lie fallow for a while, at rest, only to reemerge when the time is right. Old timers used to talk about planting at the dark of the moon when the sky was quiet so that a crop could get a good start. Maybe there is something to these dark moon times in us. Maybe they indicate a place of actual inner stretching, an opening of boundaries so we can both take in and let out.

A juicy spell follows...

Anyone who knows and can count on him or herself knows that after a dry pause, a juicy spell follows like dawn follows darkness. I cannot remember how many long stretches I have passed through as a writer. I never called them “writer’s block” because I came to know they would always pass and so I looked at the stretches as “the disinclination to write.” I am stoked to write, and I know this. What I came to understand was that there are spaces in us that need to be honored and held as timely. The flow of creativity never deserts us, especially if we are not flogging ourselves, trying to hurry it along.


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Friday, July 4, 2014

On Watching


         
If you have never watched a bird splashing about in a birdbath, you’ve missed a world of joy. In and out, in and out, it bounces, a little dunk here, a small shake there, it immerses itself until it jumps out to shake water everywhere, only to fly off refreshed until the next time. If you have never noticed a baby struggling to get to its feet and take those first few, tentative steps, you have missed a small patch of ecstasy. Over and over it falls and strains to get up, never thinking for a moment of giving up. Eventually, one day, the child manages a small stream of steps, maybe walking into the arms of an encouraging parent. Such smiles, such giggles, such an accomplishment!

Notice a natural beauty?

On days that are often chock full of scheduled activities, would we stop long enough to notice a natural beauty? The story is told of Joshua Bell, the violin virtuoso, who stood at the corner of a major urban intersection and played his violin. This was, of course, an experiment to see how many people passing would stop and pay attention. Some did, hearing and recognizing the extraordinary beauty and virtuosity of the music, but many more did not. They could not or would take the time.

What am I not noticing?

All of this might cause us to wonder: What am I not noticing? Am I so busy or so caught up in my own private offenses that I will not watch as life unfolds before my eyes? Is this a big deal? Maybe not…..But then, if we find that we are missing a lot that goes on around us…maybe it is. What we miss cannot come back in quite the same way, or perhaps cannot come back at all. Its freshness only comes once. But, then, we can be ready for the next unique event…if we are willing to watch.


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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

On Keeping Up



In a recent issue of Time Magazine, which I decided to read from cover to cover, I discovered that a whole lot is going on that I know absolutely nothing about. I know one has to keep up on new discoveries for fear of being hopelessly left behind in a mire of old-timey things, such as reading or figuring out how to run our lives on our own, stuff like that, but some of this, it seems, can actually be done for us by all kinds of super-gimmicky tech advances. It’s helpful, of course, to eliminate drudgery types of time consumers, but part of pop inventions seem just plain weird.

A teeny-weeny home...

I understand how advantageous and money saving it can be to live in a teeny-weeny home of two or three hundred square feet when there might be no other opportunity for a home, but does it have to be so “connected” that it can think for you? Isn’t it a little creepy to know that your house “knows” when you get up and turns on the heat?  Okay, so it knows you got up, but does it know why?  What if you just took an early morning bathroom pit stop and then went back to bed for another cool, unheated doze?  Does it "sense" I'm getting too warm and moderates the heat?   It seems that now tech gadgetry can “internet” our homes to think about our needs faster than we can.

Privacy is portable...

It’s kind of scary to think that we can take the “sum of an individual’s private life” on a mini-computer we can carry in our pockets so that now the Supreme Court is taking up the issue of cyber-rights and the notion that “privacy is portable.” Certainly some of us are very aware of video gaming and like to play, but now it is possible to watch professional gamers, both in auditoriums and online, compete for serious money…and sometimes the Evil Geniuses win. Oy! Look at what I’ve been missing!

Working with my own devices...

Still, I kind of like working with my own devices, the ones I still mull over in my own mind, that is. I guess part of my question is: How much of my own life do I want to keep under my feet, and how much am I willing to give over to external devices?



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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On Faith



Roger Housden, author of “Keeping the Faith without a Religion,” spoke about faith in the most wonderful, sensible and pragmatic terms. He spoke of faith as being “prior to religion…part of who we are as human beings…non-rational intuition of both life itself and the way it’s going.” What I especially liked was when Housden said that faith belongs to the clearly put idea that it may be but is not necessarily attached to a religious system. It makes perfect sense to realize that faith is an entirely natural response of our humanity as we make our way through the world of our affairs, so natural that it is not just on hand when things are going well but when hard times show up also.

Faith is not a monolith...

Faith is not a monolith; it comes and it goes and is entirely buildable, which makes it fully a living thing. Perhaps we should not worry so much, then, when we feel our faith is small. Perhaps these dark times are just more reasons to seek greater light through our mental/spiritual practices.

We exercise faith every day...

I think Housden is right. I think the“organic, natural truth and beauty of life holds alongside all the darkness and difficulty.” The essence of faith comes into life with us and simply enhances itself as we stay out of its way. We are, by nature, beings of faith. Wisdom comes when we realize this and work to establish bonds that connect our faith to the Divine Good, however we may view this. Whether we think about this or not, we exercise faith every day. When we go to sleep at night, we have faith that we’ll wake up in the morning. When we leave our homes, we have faith that we will return. If we really want a strong, working faith it will belong to us to establish a foundation within ourselves that holds vital meaning on which to stand, something that, through sun and storms, we can count on…a place where faith dwells.


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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On Disappointments



Disappointments happen. Everyone knows this, except perhaps little children who are not mature enough to realize that everything won’t always go the way they would like. Disappointments seem to be a part of life and are not really a big deal…until they are, until something or someone we counted on fails us. It’s difficult when what used to work doesn’t anymore or when someone important chooses another path.

I'll find another way...

Disappointment will work for us if we will let it. For the hardy person it can be a goad that gets us moving again. For those who will not take “no” for an answer, the signal becomes… I’ll find another way. For those of us who do, perhaps when there is nothing else available but to accept the “no,” we’ll need another response. One could be to remember that disappointments are not a rejection of ourselves, just a “no” to a circumstance. It need not, it should not become a soul wound because this can make it difficult to lift our heads again.

...a resilient reminder...

Don’t we hear a good deal these days about “being who we are?” There is more to this than just a pat phrase that gets tossed off in self descriptions. There is a resilient reminder in us that surfaces in tough spots…if we will let it…the reminder that we have successes behind us as well as disappointments and more of both to come. I recommend we thumb through success memories and let the disappointments recede in becoming a past occurrence rather than a picked-over wound.

Tomorrow really is another day...

To live is to succeed…and to be disappointed. Both our successes and our disappointments do not have to define us. They can tell us something about ourselves as our growing-up process continues and we become more of who we truly are. A disappointment may give us a whack to our egos; it doesn’t have to keep us down. Tomorrow really is another day.

And we could always write a blog about it…


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