Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gone Fishin'

Well, I am not really going fishing. But I am going on a short vacation to southern Oregon to see Crater Lake and some other places I haven't seen in all the 20+ years I've lived in Oregon. While I'm gone, I won't have computer access, so this is a computer vacation, too. I'll be back soon. I hope y'all have a wonderful week.

Friday, July 27, 2012

If I Don't Have Love

There has been a lot of talk lately about the shooting in the Colorado movie theater, a lot of talk about the shooter, a lot of talk about what should happen to him in a state that allows the death penalty.

In a discussion group last week, we talked about righteous anger and justice. Here are some thoughts about that.

Lesson 181 in A Course in Miracles says

We enter in the time of practicing with one intent; to look upon the sinlessness within.

We recognize that we have lost this goal if anger blocks our way in any form. And if a brother's sins occur to us, our narrowed focus will restrict our sight, and turn our eyes upon our own mistakes, which we will magnify and call our "sins." So, for a little while, without regard to past or future, should such blocks arise we will transcend them with instructions to our minds to change their focus, as we say:
It is not this that I would look upon.
I trust my brothers, who are one with me.

Another passage from A Course in Miracles states, “Our only calling is to deny guilt in all forms.... To accuse is not to understand.” Failure to learn needs teaching, not attack.

Here is one more passage, this time from the Tao Te Ching.

Therefore when the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is kindness.
When kindness is lost, there is justice.
When justice is lost, there is ritual.
Now ritual is the husk of faith and loyalty, the beginning of confusion.

You can see that justice is pretty far down the list!

All of this says to me that my judgment of someone, even if it is righteous judgment, serves only to perpetuate a reality that will loop forever in a cycle of fear and blame and vengeance.

1 Corinthians 13:1-2 says

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

I think from all these passages, we learn that our highest calling, really our only calling, is to love each other, to see everyone as a perfect child of God. Only that will dispel the illusion we have created of separation and sin.

When I read about the shooting in Colorado, I think that my challenge is to find compassion in my heart for all, not only the victims and their families, but also for the shooter and his family, and for all of us who sit in judgment. All of us deserve all our love, without reservation.

Buddha said, “Hate never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.”

Such love is not only possible, it is inevitable. All of us will achieve it. It is our destiny, our way home.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. –Matthew 5:7

related posts: From the Ashes; Righteous Unforgiveness; Practicing Compassion

Monday, July 23, 2012

In a Heartbeat

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. –Elizabeth Stone

Two of my friends are in a vigil now at the bedsides of their children. Two children, both young adults, struck down suddenly by two different threats, in two different ICUs, both fighting for their lives. Two sets of parents waiting...and praying.

I am thinking about these friends. About how they were going through their normal day when in a heartbeat everything changed. About how things that were important one moment – running errands, writing a blog post, going to work, calling a friend – were not at all important one moment later.

I have a cousin who as a teen suddenly developed a serious heart condition. At the time, it appeared that a virus had attacked his heart muscle. A transplant saved his life. He grew up and married. He and his wife have a beautiful baby girl. Before she was a year old, a persistent cough quickly revealed a life threatening heart condition. Deja vu. Again, the vigil waiting for a donor. Again, a donor found. Happy ending? For one family, yes. For another family, grief. And hopefully comfort in knowing that their loss saved someone else.

Two other friends lost their children, one in an airplane crash, one in a fire. Another friend loved her child through years of battling leukemia. Loss that is unimaginable until experienced.

I know many parents, like myself, who have children with autism or other developmental disabilities. Our grief is chronic. It never goes away.

We all live with the possibility of heartbreak as close as our shadow all the time. How do we make peace with that? And yet, we do.

In a classic Buddhist story, a mother, crazed with grief over her son who just died, begs Buddha to use his power to bring her child back to life. Buddha promises her that he will grant her wish if she can bring him a mustard seed from a home in which no one has ever died. She frantically goes from door to door, but everyone tells her a story of loss. She cannot find even one home that has not been touched by death. By the time she returns to Buddha, she understands the truth of sorrow and life. She asks Buddha to help her bury her son and becomes his disciple.

Today I am praying for my friends and their children. And I am also marveling at the miracle of the human spirit. We embrace life knowing that it is fleeting. We sing with joy knowing that everything is impermanent. We choose to love knowing that in doing so we expose the raw tenderness of our vulnerable hearts.

The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe. –Joanna Macy

related posts: Mary was a Real Mother; In the Softness

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Your Light Is Shining Now

The peace of God is shining in me now. –A Course in Miracles

The year is past the halfway mark. Maybe it’s a good time to pause and reflect. I know the calendar year is an artificial structure imposed on the ebb and flow of seasons, but it is nevertheless a good reminder of the preciousness of every moment.

In the northern hemisphere, the solstice has passed and the long sunny days of summer have begun to shorten. How perfect and balanced that in the southern hemisphere, the days are getting longer. There is always light. The sun never stops shining. In the darkest night of winter that seems to stretch on forever, the sun shines on undimmed.

Shine is my word of the year this year. I chose it, or rather it chose me, in the icy darkness of winter, when days were short and light seemed far away. Like the sun ever shining, my word reminds me that the light within is never extinguished no matter the season or the weather of my life’s circumstances. I can block my awareness of the light, but I cannot change it. It shines on, asking nothing of me, needing nothing from me. So generous.

That same light shines in all of us, in everything. We need only uncover our eyes and look. Light will flood a darkened room if the door is opened just a crack. It doesn’t take much for us to let our ever brilliant light shine forth. A tiny willingness is all.

The peace of God is shining in me now.
Let all things shine upon me in that peace,
And let me bless them with the light in me.

–A Course in Miracles

Do you have a word of the year this year? Would you like to share reflections on it (or any other thoughts) in the comments?

PS--I am adding this to let you know that I'm headed to the cabin for the weekend, so I'll be away from the computer. Please leave a comment, and please excuse the delay in its appearance. I will publish your comment just as soon as I get home!

related posts: So Generous; Rise and Shine

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Finding Game

When I came back to the U.S. after living overseas for seven years, my son James was four. We stayed in a hotel while we looked for a new home. James was disoriented and upset by the move. His autism made it even more challenging for him. I wasn’t autistic, but the move was hard on me, too.

In his own wise way, James found the means to reassure us both. He started playing a game with me in the hotel room. He would hide and I would find him. Yes, this sounds like the age old game of hide and seek. But this was different. The point of this game was not to elude discovery. The point of James’s game was to be found.

I would make a big show of looking for him. “Where is James? Is he behind the door? No, he isn’t there. Is he under the bed? No, he isn’t there.” By now James was giggling and trembling with excitement.

“There he is!” I would grab him up and we would have a raucous reunion, laughing and hugging. Holding him in my lap, I would whisper in his ear, “Mama will always find you, James. Every time. You are never lost.”

He fairly glowed with delight. Then squirming down from my lap, off he raced to hide and be found again. I played the game with him every day for weeks, each day as long as he needed me to, until he was exhausted and assured that all was well.

I once was lost but now am found. –Amazing Grace

related post: Mad/Sad/Glad Game

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Just For Fun

If you could be any kind of animal, what would you be?

I would be a wolf. I’ve always loved wolves. I’ve read everything I can about them. I’ve watched every documentary. I don’t know when my love for wolves started. I just know I’ve always been drawn to them.

When I was in my early 20s, I drove up through Canada to Alaska. The “highway” at that time was often a gravel road, stretching for miles and miles through the wilderness. I camped one night by a lively creek in the Yukon. As I settled into my sleeping bag, I heard wolves howling in the distance. I could barely hear them over the rushing water. I clambered out of the sleeping bag and unzipped the tent to stand in the growing darkness and listen, every nerve alert, my heart racing, their mystic song singing in my soul, calling to me.

I felt like the dog Buck in Call of the Wild, longing to go join them. I could almost see myself among them, one of them, living with them, hunting with them, howling with them. It was primal. And a bit scary.

Why wolves? I don’t know. I admire their family structure, their communal devotion to their young. They seem genuinely happy to see each other after being apart. They play. Perhaps these were qualities I yearned for when I was younger. A sense of belonging. An ancient wisdom. A joy in living.

What about you? Is there any animal that you identify with? If you like, you might look up the animal’s symbolism. I found out that wolves represent teaching, which is interesting since I have been a teacher for so much of my life. What does your animal represent to you?

[This post, by the way, was inspired by a discussion I had recently in the comment section of another blog. I would like to give credit to that blog, but now I can’t remember where it was. If you know, would you tell me? I’d be glad to add a link.]

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blue or Green?

Since I just wrote about the diversity of bloggers in the last post, I'm delighted that Corinne Rodrigues at Everyday Gyaan asked me to write a guest post for her blog.

When I was a girl, I noticed that occasionally, I would disagree with someone about whether something was blue or green. It didn’t seem to be an issue with other colors, only those two. And in each instance, I was sure the color was blue and the other person was just as sure it was green.

My initial assessment of these arguments was that these other people had not learned their colors properly in kindergarten. I couldn’t believe that they identified as green what was so clearly blue.

Then one day another explanation appeared, first as a random thought flitting through my mind, but then taking hold of my imagination and expanding like a supernova.

Read the rest here at Everyday Gyaan.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thinking Out Loud

The title of this post should suggest approaching with caution. I’m not sure thinking out loud, except to yourself, is ever a good idea, especially on a blog. But as I’m sitting here this morning, that seems to be where I’m headed, so here goes.

I’ve been thinking the last few days more about form and less about content. That is, I’ve been thinking about blogging itself rather than what is written on a blog.

This thinking has been prompted in part by conversations I’ve had this week with several interesting and successful bloggers, bloggers who write about very different things for very different reasons in very different ways. I guess one thing that struck me is obvious. We’re not all here for the same reasons.

Some of us blog to make money. Blogging is either our main source of income or it is a source of needed or desired supplemental income, either directly through advertising or indirectly through promoting goods and services. For those, blogging is business.

Some of us blog to build community. Blogging is a forum for reaching out, making friends, creating connection. For those, blogging is relationship.

Some of us blog as a hobby. Blogging is not central to our day or our attention, but is recreational. For those, blogging is fun.

By now you might be thinking, as I am, that the lines are not so clear. I can identify at various times with all these reasons. The importance of clarifying our motives is, I think, that knowing why we and others do what we do in blogworld will help us understand ourselves and each other better.

For example, if your primary motivation is business, then commenting is a way to build your “customer” base. You will comment on blogs that will provide some practical benefit to you. I have had bloggers comment on my blog for awhile, and then as they gain momentum, they move up the ladder, so to speak. From a business perspective, that makes sense. If I am in community mode, however, then I’m looking for relationship while they are looking for value. This could result in my feeling hurt or used if I am assuming that their motive is the same as mine. If I can recognize and respect our different motives, however, then I don’t take their decision personally. All is well.

Sometimes I sense some underlying judgment in blogworld. People who blog for business might dismiss those who blog for recreation. People who blog for community might look down on those who blog for profit.

I got to wondering why this might be. After all, we live in a world where we function in different contexts with different motivations. But perhaps in our physical world (as opposed to blogworld), these distinctions are more readily apparent and accepted. My interactions with people at work are different from my interactions with people at church, for example. The lines are more clear. In blogworld, however, we are all in a common space online, but sometimes with different expectations. It’s like taking all the people in your physical world – all the people in your family, at work, in your neighborhood, in your book club, at the store – and putting them in the same room and expecting everyone to relate to each other in the same way.

In blogworld, let’s not forget that besides our different motives, we come from different backgrounds, cultures, countries, ages, faiths, and ethnicities.

Here we all are in the “same room” of blogworld with a range of diversity unmatched in any one of our individual lives. It’s really astounding, if you think about it.

And I guess that’s what I’m doing today. Thinking about it.