Today is Wednesday.
Wednesday is like my “Friday.”
I came home from work, took a jog and meditated – relaxing into the thought of my “weekend” ahead. Instead of staying in this NOW moment, my thoughts quickly shifted to Saturday, which is my “Monday,” and what I will have to do when I return to work. Gratefully the next thought that came to me was: “It’s not Saturday yet. It’s Wednesday 7:30pm. Stay in this moment!” I remembered a spiritual guide that I once had who, when I would be fretting about some future task or event, would say: “It’s not here yet. Live this moment.”
How often I live life focused on the next thing instead of this moment. And in so doing, am I really living?
I am convinced that it was my meditation that brought me to this little awareness this evening. Meditation focuses us simply on the NOW. 12 Step Groups often talk about “one day at a time, one moment at a time.” Simply living THIS moment. When an addict is focused on not ever being able to use in the future this hinders recovery. But when an addict focuses on simply not using today, or this moment it, makes recovery much more manageable. In the same way, when I am focused on the future, this hinders living. When I am focused on today, or this moment, life unfolds.
I imagine that my friend who had a stroke right before Christmas and his partner can easily get paralyzed when they begin thinking about the future, when various stages of recovery will come and what will happen in the weeks to come. Sanity or some peace of mind must come from simply focusing on today’s progress, instead of a whirl of thoughts about the future. I can only imagine how difficult this must be for them at times! I know how very much and how very quickly I want to see my friend recover. I can’ only imagine how much more they want the same. I will pray that, with a focus on today’s progress, life will unfold for them in good and positive ways, as indeed it already has these past 12 days!
The silence of no thought
It speaks with increasing volume
Enticing me . . .
“Wanna figure it out?”
“Wanna live well?”
“Wanna die well?”
In this silence, the song rises in my heart again
And I am made new.
I recently heard a sermon by a bright young priest at an independent catholic church. He began with a story of his Mom, in her mid 30’s huddling her 6 boys and 1 girl together in her arms, . . . at their daddy’s funeral. He said that as she held them close, she kept repeating, almost whispering “God is with us, God is with us, God is with us, God is with us . . .” What struck me is that he said that these words, normally heard and spoken in happiness this time of year, came from a place of deep fear, uncertainty and sadness within her.
When I think of the reality of what many in the world will celebrate in a few days, it is far from the pretty, warm cozy picture that we try to create. It was cold, dirty, smelly, bloody and fearful. Joseph was perplexed by his pregnant wife to be. Instead of a warm, cozy home, they had to leave home and when they arrived in Bethlehem there was no room for them. The child was sought after and almost killed.
“God is with us, God is with us, God is with us, God is with us . . .”
Sometimes our lives can be messy, dark and cold; but the reality that we shout these days is “God is with us!” To some in difficulty, such words might ring hollow. But as sweet and sappy as some of this season can be, perhaps we need this time of year when we are reminded of what is good in the world, what is good in the human spirit and when our thoughts turn to “peace and goodwill toward all.” I can’t help but think that since a lot of us are thinking such thoughts, a little bit of it might actually manifest itself in our reality.
Today I was meditating, and, as often is the case, my mind gets going and I want to get up and start getting something done that I’m thinking about. Sometimes it is “work” just to sit there. Funny huh? “Work” just to sit there?
The White Robed Monks call this “Just Sitting,” a practice adopted from Zen, where one simply sits 15 minutes a day, concentrating on the breath and clearing the mind of all thought. When we do this our mind, our ego revolts. That little voice in our heads just doesn’t want to leave us alone.
What struck me this morning again is that when I want to heed that voice within, when I want to get up and start moving and stop this sitting – I am not trusting! In essence, when I break the meditation and start running, I am saying that I trust more in myself than I do in Divine Power. My experience, however, says that when I stay with this “work,” when I simply sit and make an empty space in my mind, I connect directly with Source Energy, God, the Spirit. Suddenly my work is given energy and much more is accomplished – and somehow – directly as a result of thinking no-thing, my thoughts are clarified and my life is given meaning and direction. It’s like I have suddenly been plugged in!
Can I trust enough to stay with the silent embrace and make a space in my life to connect with Source? Try it. And see what happens!
Hold on. Ya never know what Life is going to bring!
When we find ourselves in a difficult place we often feel as if things will never get better. And sometimes, depending on the circumstance we find ourselves absolutely devastated. We just need to hang in there. Something’s bound to pop up. Even in the devastation of death itself, we are given visions of hope beyond this life.
“A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse.” Again, Isaiah places this positive vision before the people, at a time when everything that they knew and loved was destroyed, cut down to the root. Instead of wallowing in the pain, he insists that this is not the end! What seems dead will come to life. Better days are ahead!
When we are going through a difficult time, it’s hard to believe that things will get better. But if we just hold on, hang in there, they do. I sometimes think of an old friend of mine. Devastated from a break up of one he loved so much, he was unable to look beyond that present moment and he was found dead in his garage, his car motor running. He was in his early 20’s. I wonder where life would have taken him had he decided to live. I know he would have done well. He was a bright, capable and good looking young man. I am certain that within months after that breakup, life would have gone on and I’m sure that he would have done so well in life and in love.
We just need to hang in there. Eventually something’s gonna pop up! “A shoot SHALL sprout from the stump . . .”
In many Christian churches that great reading from Isaiah is heard during this season where we are given a vision of a time of peace and reconciliation where the wolf will be the guest of the lamb and the baby play by the cobra’s den. Isaiah envisions this after the Babylonian exile, precisely at a time when the people were devastated, exiled from their own land – everything familiar to them gone – destroyed. Instead of wailing, Isaiah places before the people a positive vision and from this they gain hope. Is it all a bunch of idealistic, pie in the sky rubbish? (See Isaiah 11:1-10) To be honest, when I am going through a difficult time and a friend tries to point me to what is and can be positive, it sometimes drives me nuts. But in the end, if I don’t come to some sense of future hope, I am lost.
“Without a vision, the people perish.” So says Proverbs. And isn’t it true?
Without a vision, a framework of where we are going, a sense of purpose and meaning, something to hope for – we whither and die; maybe not physically, but psychologically and spiritually.
What is the vision that I set before my mind’s eye each day? Is it positive, or is it more focused on what is wrong with my life and the world? When I focus my thoughts on what is good, all that there is for which to be grateful – then I am lifted and my living, loving and working are given energy. When my focus is negative, I perish.
How very much fear can rule our lives – and we are unaware. We calculate what we say, how we say it, to whom we say it. We fear losing the respect of others, or get caught up in what they think of us. We fear losing our position, our job, or a friend. As a result the light that we are is held back; our unique way of being and flavoring our world is diminished. Not to mention that fear is death dealing to the spirit.
I am saint and sinner. I fly to the heights and I sink to the depths – and both are my teachers. Although I write, preach, speak and sing I am by no means a guru and far from perfect – simply a fellow traveler, expressing what is within and trying to make sense of it all.
Be who you are.
Say what you believe.
And let the chips fall where they will.
At least you’ll be living!
Like a dying star
Convulsing – trying to hold on
The heat – intense as gravity folds in on itself and energy ceases
Unable to escape the intensity – I collapse inward and finally explode
Will I fall into the inescapable darkness?
Or find myself thrust outward in a burst of creative energy
Forced and forged by this seeming death
Exploding into newness – Supernova my name?
Elements strong and bright
Silver and gold are forged in this heat
Gravity’s intense pressure – beauty’s unlikely birthplace
Visions of days past loom like distant memories
When I would gather them
Songs of passion, dreams of a different shore – a way for us to be – that seemed within reach
A heart that beat with affect and hope, open and seeking – dashed – yet like the phoenix,
Rising from the ashes
Flying again into your heart.
The gravity of ashes now speak: “lay here”
Rebirth – a distant belief
Voices of sunrise silenced
Visions of setting the last table become the heart’s
Visions. Songs. Dreams. Heart.
Has the Song found it’s end? Is the table to be
The Vision still has its time. Here . . . A spark.