This week I visited Cedar Point, my favorite amusement park. It was great! If you like roller coasters Cedar Point is certainly one park you have to experience. After every ride on a roller coaster one of the workers says: “Ride on!” – inviting the people to keep experiencing thrill after thrill. Upon my return I was struck by how much I didn’t want to “ride on” with everyday, ordinary life. I wanted to experience another thrill! I wanted to “ride on!”
How often we want our lives and relationships to be thrilling – and if the thrill isn’t there or wears off – we think something is wrong. But it is in the experience of day to day rhythm where life is lived and peace experienced. It’s certainly good to have peak experiences in our lives and relationships – BUT, if we begin LIVING for these experiences we will find ourselves sorely disappointed. Instead finding a “thrill” in the everyday rhythm, spiritual practice and disciplines of life is a good thing. For me, it is my spiritual practice that is the life blood of who I am. It enriches my life far beyond any thrill! Thrills are fleeting, temporary. A grounding in meditation and prayer is like an eternal, ever present flow of energy. It is not a temporary thrill.
This is the way I want to “ride on” with life. Who knows? If I do, maybe life’s ups and downs won’t feel so much like a roller coaster!
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.
I was recently watching a program on PBS called “Excuses Be Gone” featuring Wayne Dyer. In it, he quotes Aristotle as saying:
“Contemplation is the highest form of activity.”
I so resonate with that statement! I am wired differently from what society, corporations and even churches applaud and hold up as good. “Idleness is the devil’s workshop” we were often told as kids. Certainly that was the message in the church and family in which I was raised. For me, the opposite is true.
The more “activity” I am involved in – the less I do – and the quality of anything that I do, and even the person I am, suffers greatly! It is in the silence of nothingness, in time, seemingly wasted – where great things are born within me. When I don’t take time to be, read, write, pray, listen to music – my life and work suffer. When I have, or take this time – despite great pressure not to do so – then my work finds life and creativity and I am a decent person to be around.
I find this is not very much appreciated either in society or the church. Produce! Produce! Produce! This is the message that most of us receive. It’s funny. I don’t find society, churches or countries any the better for all the incessant activity! Perhaps we would be wise to slow down, take stock. I recently heard these very words in a church, coming from a man who’s an unredeemed, angry workaholic whose toxic energy is oppressive to his staff and his church. He does a tremendous amount of work; but I don’t know of anyone (who really knows him) who looks up to him or actually wants to spend time with him. How sad. But I believe, like all addicts, he’s basically a good person at heart. Perhaps he just needs to slow down and take stock.
I awaken, able to move
Sound body – energy even to tone
Gratitude – how blessed!
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.
Luke 19: 1-10
To be chosen is a wonderful thing. Remember when your partner chose you? Remember the day someone looked at you and said they loved you? Or, better yet, having known you a long time, knowing your faults and foibles, that person still loves you?
What a great thing it is to be chosen; not only at first, but day after day. What a great thing it is to be loved, despite one’s weaknesses or failures.
It must have been what Zacchaeus felt when Jesus said: “Hurry down, I mean to stay at your house.” What a wonderful thing it must have been for Zacchaeus, who was despised because he was a tax collector, to feel invited to become a part of the group again. How healing this must have been. We don’t know, but I wonder what happened to Zacchaeus over time? And notice too, despite the grumblings of the righteous folk around that Jesus was going to “go to a sinner’s house,” Jesus did not back down.
God doesn’t want to hang around on the periphery. She wants to come inside our house, the place where we are fully ourselves, gifts and warts and all. He desires to come to the place where we are fully known and there speak a word of love that has the power to move us beyond mere observers in a tree to participants in life and community. I mean to stay at your house.