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!
(Sitting in a coffee house window seat – watching people at holiday event strolling by.)
Light snow, a cold evening. Crowds of people walk the streets. The perfect setting for a night like this. All kinds of people. Straight and gay, young and old, richer and poorer, various races and, I imagine, creeds.. All here because of the season. All here because of a primal desire to connect with Life.
Whenever I’m around a crowd of people I wonder at the diversity of souls that exist; not one exactly like another, not only now, but ever since the dawn of time! Talk about awesome Mystery!. How did we all awaken to be the person that we are? Why am I not him, instead of who I am? Why am I not straight, instead of gay? What is it that makes me so aware of myself in this body, with my unique history, with my thoughts, my inner voice as it were? What is it that made me suddenly so aware of myself now, so aware of “me” that I know that one day I will have to die. I never remember this before – being alive and dying. What is it that creates our individual consciousness? Why did I “wake up” in the 20th century, in this body, into this family, at this place?
Questions that cannot be answered. Questions that lead me to silent awe of the Mystery of it all. How can one but be lead to silence?
What a wondrous thing this life is! And what a pain in the butt at times! The very thing that brings us to delight and joy, can become that which brings us to our knees in pain. And this pain then can become the very place where we are hollowed out, our thoughts given focused vision, where incidentals that once seemed so important simply fall away. And we are born again.
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.
I have, of late, been extremely focused on and busy about the details of selling a house, buying a house, moving and all that entails.
Today, I, along with a large community of people, lay to rest a bright, compassionate young man who was killed in an auto accident.
In the presence of such an event I am again reminded that the building of our “kingdoms” here don’t matter a great deal. What matters is the building of hearts, the building up of people. This is true wealth, the creation of true beauty – and it is only this that gives joy and meaning to life.
I realize that this is one of those seasons of transition in life; yet it begs me to ask the question: How much time do I give to the care of “things?” Conversely, how much time do I give to the care of people?
Thy kingdom come.
What would you think if your boss or your partner sent you on a long trip to do something, but then told you to take nothing with you and just to rely on the help of strangers? I remember years ago, when I was in the seminary, hearing stories of one of the formation directors who used to send college students out on the road in the summer time, having them travel hundreds of miles and only giving them $10.00 to take with them and nothing else. They were to make their way across these hundreds of miles relying on the help of strangers. This, he said, helped them get a real sense of what the poor feel in their lives. Certainly it was a different day and age back then; but a challenging way to learn that maybe we don’t need as much as we think we do.
I wonder if having much holds us from experiencing life’s richness in other ways. I wonder if it holds us from interaction with others and opportunities to be of mutual support, that otherwise we simply don’t see, as each of us is mired within the secure confines of our own homes.
This past week, after a violent windstorm, the residual effects of Hurricane Ike, I was left without electricity for a week. Certainly much less worse than those devastated by the brunt of that storm. Yet even this little “inconvenience” made me not only think of , but feel with those in other parts of the world who never have electricity. It made me get out of my house and interact with neighbors and others in coffee shops and the like. I met more people in this past week than I have in a quite a while. It created within people a mutual inter-dependence that otherwise we rarely experience. Although a little edgy at times due to sinus problems and a lack of sleep, this past week opened a deeper connection with people, many of whom I didn’t even know. It made me realize in a real way that maybe I don’t need all those things I have and, not only that, they keep me from experiencing life at deeper, interconnected levels.
“Take nothing for the journey; neither walking staff nor traveling bag; no bread, no money.” (See Luke 9: 1-6) Perhaps today we could ask ourselves this: how are my possessions holding me from experiencing a richer, fuller life? What can I do live a more inter-dependent life?
Ezekiel 37: 1-14
We continue today with the image of the possibility of new life emanating from absolute death. “My people have been saying, ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off.’”
We are cut off.
When I stop doing what I need to do to keep growing, I cut myself off from the Energy which gives me Life. When I begin listening to the negative thoughts in my mind, when I allow myself to be affected by another’s negative behavior, when I stop watching my thoughts, when I get stuck in thinking of the past or the future, when I stop taking care of the body temple, when I stop reading, praying and meditating, I cut myself off from a flow of Energy which gives me life and hope.
Again, we have this marvelous imagery from Ezekiel of a field of dry bones. The author even comments: “how dry these bones were!” We’re talking absolutely dead. Completely lifeless. In the words of Sophia Betrillo from The Golden Girls (God how gay am I??), “picture it! . . .” Picture yourself walking all alone in a field of dry bones and skulls as far as the eye can see. The picture would seem pretty bleak indeed.
Sometimes life is like that. You find out your partner cheated on you. Out of the blue your girlfriend, whom you’re absolutely in love with, breaks up with you. Someone you dearly love gets sick. A friend betrays you. Your husband who’s been sober for years, starts drinking again. . . . And the list goes on. Even though life can get like that sometimes, we are assured that this IS NOT THE END! New life will come!
“I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. . . . I will open your graves and have you rise from them!”
We always have hope. We always have hope.