Yesterday was a very sad day for me. I was following up on a news article I read a few weeks ago about indigenous Americans purchasing sacred land in the Black Hills. I was happy that they had raised the $9 million they needed, but I was led deeper into the story and watched a TED talk and slide show that made me very emotional. Then the breaking news stories started flooding the internet. Gun violence, death, fear, suffering, blame. A hurting world in sudden outbursts of information and misinformation. Another seemingly random mass shooting.
Do no harm.
I suppose that is an impossible task. Everywhere we tread, we harm something. It’s our responsibility to be aware of that. What is the positive alternative? Make peace. What if there were mass ‘peace’-ings instead? What if the media covered screens with healing stories of kindness, of love, of compassion, of good will? What if our every breath was tuned toward acceptance and wholeness? What would that look like?
Imagine. A group of people, young and old, of all colors, surrounds a school where young minds are developing ideas of the world. The students are beginning to formulate their own opinions about the world and whether it is a place of fear or not. These opinions will shape their interactions and responses for years to come. And the students hear from their open windows a sound that begins to grow…it starts with a single voice. It is singing a clear melody in an ancient language…”Dona…nobis…pacem…”. Another voice joins in. The tune is spread, broader, higher, deeper, from voice to voice. A child inside the school picks up the cue and begins. And another…and another. The music blankets the classrooms, the cafeteria, the hallways, the offices. “Dona nobis pacem”…”Give us peace”. Peace is given, shared, lived, spread. This is how the world changes from a place of fear begetting fear to a place of safety and love.
What world do you want to live in? Click here to listen to the melody. Join in, with your voice, with your breath, with your life. Imagine that spreading like news to a hurting world.
Change and the movement of life – flow and motion – energy passing through places and phases. Here I sit in an old house with the shades drawn and the ceiling fans going fast, aware that the heat index is at a level that prompted my employer to call most of the staff and direct them to stay at home. It’s hot and humid…but only for now. This is what my street looked like in February:
I have been reading through some letters and journal entries that I wrote in the year 2007, the year before my husband died, when my teenaged girls were in serious distress and the entire family was in deep pain. Here’s a list of feelings I wrote about:
depression, disappointment, hurt, shame, guilt, disgust, loneliness, despair, anger/frustration, regret/sorrow, fatigue, pain, inadequacy, fear, fragility, helplessness
Here’s a list of feelings that I decorated with a jagged black boundary and labeled “Off Limits, Not Allowed”:
Beauty, Happiness, Joy, Love, Health, Excitement, Passion, Rest, Pleasure, Peace
I wrote: “What do you do with feelings? They’re supposed to have ‘a beginning, a middle, and an end’, but when you’ve had the same feelings swirling around you for a half a year, a year, several years — they aren’t just feelings anymore. They become a way of life. I feel like Job — afflicted with boils. These hives on my legs itch like crazy, and I have no clue why I have them. I just keep hoping they’ll just go away.”
When you attempt to stop the flow of energy and movement and turn your present feelings or thoughts into a way of life, it may seem like you’re taking control and choosing something you want. It may turn out to be something that mires you in suffering, however. That’s something of which to be aware. You could apply that to the physical environment: attempting to regulate the temperature and keep it at a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit as a chosen way of life may cause you to suffer inordinately whenever the temperature is much lower or higher than that. Aversion and attachment causes suffering. Letting go of them allows the dance of life to swirl you into new places. If you find joy in the movement and change of life, you will not be disappointed. If you insist on sitting in the same pile of ashes for years, you will inevitably feel itchy and uncomfortable. You can hope that changes miraculously, or you can get up and move. As Jesus said to the man sitting at the Sheep’s Gate Pool complaining and making excuses, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:6) Do you want to enter the flow of life? It’s your choice…
Here endeth my sermon to myself.
I am thinking about my oldest daughter today. She has been sick with a terrible cough, possibly pneumonia, and left a message on my phone yesterday afternoon saying, “I just needed some Mom.” Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to contact her since to get more information although I’ve left messages. These are those “Mom moments” that teach me how to manage anxiety. Her voice actually sounded better than the day before, I know she’s on antibiotics, so my brain can convince me that there’s little evidence that something catastrophic is happening. My imagination, however, cooks up a million scenarios that are “possible”. My spirit tells me that I live in this moment, not any imagined or borrowed moments from some other plane, and so I act in the present as best I can. Practicing living in peace with myself and the world, what I think I know and what I don’t know is an ongoing project. At this point in my life, I do not need added drama. Reality is exciting enough.
My daughter has always been open to engaging with lots of stimulus. Even as a toddler, she had a hard time shutting her brain off at the end of a day, relaxing and falling asleep. As a grad student, there are just so many exciting things to pursue, that I think she resists shutting down to re-charge. She’s a fascinatingly energetic person to talk to, but she has a hard time slowing down. No wonder she’s succumbed to illness, right? I checked out the poetry prompt from NaPoWriMo this morning, and they suggested writing a lullaby. Perfect! I know just who to write one for! I am hoping her phone is turned off because she’s resting, sleeping, meditating and healing. When she was a little girl, I used to do a kind of guided meditation that I made up in order to get her to relax. I had her visualize floating like a leaf on the surface of a slow-moving brook. So, here’s a lullaby for Susan and pictures of the Sand Cave at Wyalusing State Park. I apologize if this makes anyone sleepy in the middle of their work day!
Lullaby for Susan
Float gently, float slowly, my baby, my dear
Like a leaf on the water, no burdens to bear
Gaze skyward to heaven while stars gather there
Like a leaf on the water, no burdens to bear
With mermaid hair flowing, glide slowly along
While Mama’s beside you, she sings this sweet song
Go slowly, breathe deeply, my child; nothing’s wrong
Your Mama’s beside you, she sings this sweet song