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!
As I write this I am sitting in a coffee shop, on a beautiful spring-like day. It’s amazing how a bit of good weather in the midst of the cold we’ve had can lift the spirit to new life. And new life will ALWAYS come after the cold of winter. It’s in the cold of winter that I need to remember this!
No matter what the “winter” of life is, whether it be illness, a broken relationship, loss of job or even death itself, we are promised the advent of new life beyond it. I just need to mentally remind myself of that fact, even though I may not be “feeling” it at the time. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of looking for small hints.
Last night, as I left the hospital I looked up and noticed that there was still light in the sky and it was 6:10pm. The light of Spring is coming! But right now, it’s just a hint, barely noticeable. But it’s there and it points to the warmth and light to come.
As my friend shows signs of improvement and communication, so may this point to his full recovery to come. May healing light and warmth surround you my friend and brother Mike.
Happy New Year!
NOTE: I meant to post this on Christmas Eve, but a very good friend of mine had a stroke at the age of 40 the day before Christmas Eve. He’s only 40 years old. He remains in critical condition, but is showing signs of improvement. Please keep him, his partner and family in positive thought and prayer. Thanks!
Last week I stopped in a drug store and noticed that the Christmas stuff was already marked off 50%. I had no intention of buying yet another Christmas decoration; but I almost felt as if I was lead to look. In the midst of the plethora of decorations were some simple, painted wood block words. One of them said: “Believe.” I felt something as I picked it up, an energy, . . . and ended up buying it. It now sits front and center above my fireplace, and as I pray and meditate in the morning I look at it. As I walk through the living room a hundred times a day, I look at it. It becomes a mantra, a reminder – “Believe!” “Watch your thoughts.” “Your beliefs create reality.” I’ve just begun reading Wayne Dyer’s new book called Excuses Be Gone, in which he talks about scientific studies that have been done which prove that what we believe can literally create our reality, bring healing and affect our lives, positively or negatively – depending on what our beliefs are.. Scientific proof!
I can’t help but think that I was lead to buy that wood block word. I will keep it in my home year round, as a reminder.
Again, some, including myself might find a lot of the movies, songs and hype that surrounds us this time of year a bit sweet and syrupy. But it is good that collectively this time of year, many people are lead to positive thoughts and feelings – and frankly I’ve seen examples time and again where such thoughts create reality. I have seen and experienced kindness and self giving that is admirable. What a grace that we have this time of year that so many humans are thinking good thoughts and believing good things. What a great thing it would be if we carried such thoughts and beliefs through the rest of the year. Imagine the reality that collectively we could create in our world!
I love the song “Thankful,” made popular by Josh Groban. The song is written by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager and Richard Page. The text of the refrain and the music wonderfully express our desire to turn our attention to what is good and hopeful:
“So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can’t see”
I hope that the little wood block word that I was lead to serves as a reminder throughout the year. Imagine the world we could bring into being if the good will that is felt this time of year was always in our thoughts!
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.
As I continue “Just Sitting” – my Zazen practice – I remain intrigued by what it’s doing, yet at the same time trying to be unattached from expectation that anything will come of it. This simple (and not so simple!) opening of the body, spirit and mind connects us directly to Source Energy, God, Spirit and when you think about it, that’s freak’n amazing!! I find myself more aware, looking to see what this silence will bring.
Most of the time I find it difficult not to think, and simply concentrate on my breathing. The mind, the ego will not easily shut up. It does NOT want to give up control! Yet, what a relief it is to stop the incessant chatter within! I can only imagine what this must do to the brain. I can’t help but believe that in the process of this silence of the mind, the brain is literally making new connections. I am convinced that in this silence I am more lined up with Source, and Divine will becomes my will. In this silence the ego is shut up and I somehow feel more directly connected to God – I let go of control. I get out of the way. Maybe that’s what “let go, and let God” means. Normally when I give up control, I find myself, at least apprehensive, if not downright fearful. Yet as a result of this silence I find myself looking forward in hopeful expectation to see what will unfold in my life – and that of the world (because it‘s not just about my life, but affecting the world). Instead of a problem to be solved, life is becoming a Mystery to be lived. I look forward to the journey!
The other day I was made aware of a movie called “Into Great Silence.” It is a documentary film directed by Phillip Groning which portrays the lives of the Carthusian Monks of the Grande Charteuse Monastery high in the French Alps. It’s known to be one of the most austere monasteries. I imagine that many people might be bored out of their minds by this movie, as it definitely takes one “into great silence,” as its title suggests. The movie is around two and a half hours long and most of it is silence. It simply shows the monks in their day to day lives – without offering commentary or explanation. These monks do not talk, except when they are in common prayer and once a week after a meal on Sundays. So it’s quiet! Disturbingly so! Yet, . . . Refreshingly so. Talk about counter-cultural!
After watching this movie I wondered how much we may all be seduced away from the silence by the incessant, and sometimes, unnoticeable noise all around us. I wonder if all the noise that surrounds us, or that we choose to be surrounded by – lulls us into a dull sense of living, and ultimately – in our society – a crisis of meaning.
When I enter into the silence, which is initially disturbing, I am lead to a greater sense of myself, a more peaceful place and, in the process, I become a more compassionate presence in the world. It is nothing short of hard work to stay with silence, but I am becoming more and more conscious of the tremendous difference it makes in my life and work. I feel as if I am slowly being seduced by it. In entering the silence I give up control to a Higher Power, which is initially disturbing. But now I am intrigued by it, curious and interested to see what happens. And something is happening. I don’t quite know what it is, but I know it’s good.