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Saturday, March 16 2019

Re-Membering Christchurch

   

    Three months ago, I was in New Zealand walking through streets and parks in Christchurch – a beautiful city that was devastated a few years back by an earthquake that toppled much of the city, including the two main cathedrals in town – one Anglican, one Catholic.  I’m pretty sure I walked by the mosque where such terrible violence, and most of the deaths, occurred.  I see from the map that it stood at the edge of a park I’d visited. 

 

         Stunned, not quite comprehending the enormity of this horror, I wrestle with a conclusion that I’ve come to hold ever more fiercely in recent years – the conclusion that divine presence is at the core of each of us, even those who behave heinously.  I question once again my sense of the human condition.

 

         I know we humans are wounded by the experience of separation that incarnation brings.  I realize how vulnerable the individual human psyche is to the many ways in which we are hurt by each other and harmed by various social structures around us.  How easy it is for us to be captured by fear and loathing and by ideologies that justify unthinkable cruelty.  I ache.

 

         I’m deciding not to jettison the conclusion I hold dear.  I see the light of spirit shining through in the loving response of Christchurch’s mayor.  I see that same spirit in the outpouring of love and support from around the world.  At a more personal level, I see that spirit in the love that surrounds me.

 

         So, how do I account for the atrocity in Christchurch? 

 

         I’ve come to experience the divine presence as powerful and persistent within us - and it’s very quiet.  The light-source within can be covered and crusted over so completely in a human being that it cannot be seen or known from outside or inside.  In some cases, like this one perhaps, human activity can only reflect darkness.  No light seeps through. 

 

         At 4am this morning, I was awake.  This poem came.

 

 

Re-Membering Christchurch

 

In a Christchurch mosque

Children, women, men

Gathered to pray –

And were preyed upon.

 

Martyred by night

Returned to the light

We pray for them now.

Hearts join as one.

 

All churches,

All temples,

All mosques –

All Christchurch now.

 

 

         Harm to anyone, harms everyone.

 

         May we re-member.  We are one.

 

         May peace begin within.

 

         Final note:  I’ll be traveling in South America for the next few weeks.  Will post again upon my return.  Namaste!

Posted by: AT 11:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, March 10 2019

Snow-track Contrasts

 

         For over a month now, the snow in central Minnesota has made for some beautiful and exhilarating cross-country skiing.  After 6 inches of new accumulation last night, this morning on the trails was particularly gorgeous and, as it turns out, quite instructive.

 

         Fluffy white snow piled high on tree-branches and balanced precariously atop the many oak leaves still clinging to their branches.  Vibrant, near-violet, blue sky provided the perfect contrast/backdrop for awesome viewing.  Sparkling sunrays glistened off snow all around me.  Usually I ski without stopping.  Today, I paused several times, for several minutes at a time, to soak in and soak up the scenery.  Gratitude was skiing with me.

 

         When I strayed into rumination, the beauty of my surroundings called me back to the present moment.  For me, the contrast between present and not present mirrored the contrast between violet-blue sky and sparkling white snow – so vivid and clear.  

 

         The trails hadn’t been groomed yet.  For about half of the 2-mile loop, I followed a single track set down by someone who’d been there before me.  Then, I branched off to a more difficult section of trail no one had skied yet.  Another contrast became apparent.  Blazing a new trail takes a lot more effort.  The exertion is exhilarating for me – and so is the ease and speed of following a track that’s already been travelled.

 

         Reminds me of the spiritual path.   I’m grateful for teachers who have paved and eased the way.  And I’m grateful for the quiet moments of inspiration when I’m guided to bushwhack into new territory, blazing a trail that’s new – at least for me.  The experiences are different, and both are good.

 

         I see that contrast is all around us – in all areas of life.  It opens doors.  It teaches and grows us.  It helps us clarify who we are and expand into who we truly are.

 

        

 

 

 

        

Posted by: AT 11:28 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, March 02 2019

Silence of Now

 

 

         In my personal cosmology, the origin of all is Emptiness – a creative, intelligent, loving Silence I call God.  Everything and everyone is an expression of this Silence.  It permeates all being.

 

         Another word for Silence is Presence.  The spiritual practice of being present – right here, right now, in this moment - opens and lubricates a doorway to Presence, to the immense Silence of God within. 

 

         I am enjoying Journey into Now, a book by Leonard Jacobson.  Here’s a passage I find deeply resonant:

 

 

“When you become fully present, thoughts stop and your mind is silent.  You are not trying to stop the thoughts.  It simply happens as you become present.

 

“But there is an even deeper level of peace and silence waiting to emerge.  As your mind becomes silent, an inner door is opened, allowing an infinite and eternal silence to emerge from the core of your Being.

 

“This infinite and eternal silence is the very essence of your Being.  It is your true nature.  It is the essence of all existence.  It is the eternal silent presence of pure consciousness.  It is the I AM of you.

 

“It is that dimension of you that exists in this moment and only this moment.  It is that dimension of you that exists in the Oneness.  It is your Buddha nature.  It is the Christ of you, which exists in Oneness with God.”  (Kindle location 197-201)

 

 

         The Kingdom of God is truly within.  We don’t have to die to get there – just practice softening to the silence of now. 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: AT 08:20 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

 "James has a very welcoming presence and an easy going demeanor in addition to an excellent sense of humor . We are all free to be our own goofy selves."
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