3.13.20 There are many spiritual lessons to be learned from our current global state of affairs. Today's humble offering:
Charlotte, the four-month-old mini-dachshund is chewing on the same things she chewed on yesterday, going about her doggie business without watching the news or emailing people about quarantines. She drinks out of her water bowl and expects a treat when she comes through the back door. Her life is predictable. She does not know how to project into the future. The idea of 'tomorrow' doesn't exist for her, only the 'right now.' We humans have tried to emulate this with much mindfulness training and 'living in the moment.' The Latin phrase carpe diem has instructed us for centuries to 'seize the day.' But Charlotte already knows this. Today is all there is. So, be informed, do what you can, take care of yourself and one another, smile a bit, but don't waste today. Self-talk #1: Be like Charlotte
Nobody canceled church tomorrow. Really. Think about it. Y'all sit in the pew and nod your heads in agreement that 'we are the church,' it isn't a brick and mortar building, it isn't the woman in the pulpit, WE are the church. If you're a Christian, it may be the time to remember that Jesus didn't hold meetings about how to pay for the new roof; he didn't head a committee to discuss new hymnals. He took care of people. And so, if you truly believe that we are the church, it is only possible to cancel church if we stop doing our holy work. All we've canceled is the gathering of like-minded, like-hearted folks. Carry on, my friends. The real church is not canceled.
3.14.20 There are many spiritual lessons to be learned from our current global state of affairs. Today's humble offering:
I watched this morning as Charlotte dashed from toy to toy, winding herself into a frenzy that I call the zoomies. Trying to pick her up or hold her during zoomies is nearly impossible. And then, in three seconds she is flat out on her pink blanket. With our own resources of time, health, and money, we need to balance our own zoomies with periods of deep rest. Taking care of ourselves is of utmost importance to keep our immune systems in good shape. So when the zoomies of anxiety, shortages, and sniffles dash around in our lives, stop. Breathe. Do something to re-focus. Or simply lie down on your pink blanket and nap.
Self-talk #2: Tame your zoomies
3.15.20 There are many spiritual lessons to be learned from our current global state of affairs. Today's humble offering: When the towers fell in 2001, churches were packed full the following Sunday. When the virus arrives, churches are empty. How we respond to large-scale, "we're-all-in-this-together" situations has shifted greatly. Maybe this is reminding us that going TO a church is not the same as BEING the church. Today we need to be the church. Jesus taught us to love others as we are loved. Loving others today means keeping our physical distance. It does not mean disconnecting! Call one another; skype; have tea with a friend. And then there’s that scripture about treating others the way we want to be treated. When we act today, let it be with the consciousness of the millions of people in the world who never have enough toilet paper or bananas. Let’s replace fear with humility. Let’s be the church today. Self-talk #3: Be the Church
Today is another day. And I am not afraid. My grandmother lived through World War I; my parents through World War II; my generation through Viet Nam; this is a war where the enemy is not only a microscopic creature called a virus, the enemy is also fear. But really, what are we afraid of? Jesus taught, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” The sacred Hindu text Bhagavadgita teaches that when you live for someone you love deeply or for a great cause, your fear and anxiety go away. Culturally, most people who read this will be in the privileged sector of having a place to sleep each night and having enough food. In our prayers today, so let us be mindful of those who never have enough toilet paper, never have enough bananas, do not know the comfort of a safe place to sleep. This enemy's job is to awaken our hearts to a new way of being. Let it begin today.
Self-talk #4: Awaken
3.17.20 There are many spiritual lessons to be learned from our current global state of affairs. Today's humble offering is from the Christian tradition: Someone joked yesterday about not realizing just how much he would be giving up the Lenten season. I know he was referring to toilet paper, bananas and every social event. Lent is a Christian time of reflection and sacrifice, calling people to remember just how much suffering can lead to a wonderful end of the story. And, so here we are, in a situation we didn’t see coming and it came quickly. We must adapt fast to a new normal, especially if we want to heed warnings of overcrowding our medical system. This new normal includes time for us to be reflective – the universe has slapped us upside the head and said, “slow down, it’s time for you to balance your crazy lives and come to grips with what is really important.” We are slowing down, finding ways to fill our days with children at home, cleaning closets. We are reflecting on our values, our relationships, and our mortality. Honestly, we need to give up wanting things the way they were a few weeks ago and find the beauty in our new normal, because, just like the disciples in the days before Easter, we never know the end of the story. Self-talk #5: You Don’t Know the End of the Story
3.18.20 There are many spiritual lessons to be learned from our current global state of affairs. Today's humble offering today is from the 1800s: “And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and grew gardens full of fresh food, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they have been healed.” Kitty O’Meara 1839-1888 And this from the present: “We are being asked to hold a lot of contradictions right now – caring for each other by staying away, not panicking while being hyper vigilant, not hoarding yet being prepared. The more we can hold these complexities in an integrated way, the easier all this extremely difficult stuff can be.” Hala Khouri, Off the Mat into the World May we learn from history, as we create our own today. Self-talk #6: Create the History you want
3.19.20 Thought I'd try Wegmans grocery store at 7 am. It was much more crowded than several days ago, when I shopped during the dinner hour. I guess it's all about when they stock the shelves, but other than a pallet of toilet paper and one of paper towels, the shelves looked about the same. Got what I needed and two things I wanted. Which made me keenly aware of the difference between the two. Knowing that difference is one of our huge lessons through our global crisis. Most of us are already we have too much 'stuff.' Hence the huge push for us to buy even more plastic storage bins year-round, an entire store for Containers, and the surge of de-cluttering entrepreneurships. How many items do we purchase that have a very short-lived purpose and end up cluttering up a home, while a-waiting an eventual trip to the landfill or Goodwill? I’m beginning to re-think everything I buy. How does it impact the people who made it? How will it impact the world when I dispose of it? How does its use impact my life? The universe is slapping us upside the head and asking us to think bigger thoughts, evaluate how we structure our lives and strongly consider what it is that we truly value. My list for today: my family – both biological and chosen, home-cooking, long hugs, a dog, a healthy body, laughter. Self-talk #7: What do I really need?
Today, I’m thinking a lot about people who have been isolated. A prisoner of war in solitary confinement for years. A child in a cage with nobody she knows taking care of her. A woman who chose to be isolated – Anne LaBastille, who built her own cabin miles from anyone and lived for years in the Adriondack mountains. (see book called Woodswoman). A person dragged into slavery of any sort. History has shown us through the movies, books, songs, poetry, paintings, sculptures that have been left to us, that isolation is not a new human construct. It has also shown us that many survive. They survive, but they are changed. Some are left with severe post-traumatic syndrome disorder; some become spiritual leaders; some turn more inward and never speak again; and some are awakened to a new, healthier way of being.
In my thoughts about isolated people, I am reminded of a phone conversation I had four months after Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico. I connected by chance (another story) with a woman, who like myself, is an Interfaith Clergy. She had phone service for a few hours each day and was returning a call from a message I had left. When I inquired about what she needed, she replied that she was fine. There had been no running water for the four months, but she had food and was healthy, and there was very limited electricity. I hurried along the remainder of the conversation, feeling responsible for using her phone’s charge, to which she wistfully responded, “Oh, it’s ok without much electric. We have never seen the stars like this before.” Some say attitude or relying on faith are keys to a healthy outcome. I couldn’t agree more. Self-talk #8: Look for the Stars
3.21.20 Today I’m thinking a lot about connection. And as I was reading my morning emails, I came upon this. It’s better than anything I could write. It’s what I want to write today. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/FMfcgxwHMPmVzscQkdsvrHfjgdBRpGKj Self-talk #10: Stay connected to self and to others
3.23.20 Yesterday I planted peas. Yep. Upstate New York. I don’t need to ‘work the soil’ and turn it over. I use raised beds, and if you don’t ever step into them, the soil doesn’t get compacted. Because they’re raised a bit, they warm up fast in spring. My grandfather planted peas and onions on Good Friday. I know I’m a little ahead of the game on that, but Good Friday could come as early as yesterday, so I gambled. Gardening – one of the finest ways to ground a human soul. Pun intended. It’s a spiritual thing to work with nature and not against her. Bringing me to the point of today’s musing: I would like to see the whole back forty of this Interfaith Center be gardened this year, with the intention of free fresh food. Free. People who work in the garden would take what they need, and the rest would be given to people with food insecurity. What say ye, neighbors and friends? Who’s in? I have the tools and the land. Soil and Soul. Self-talk #10: Grounding the soul
3.24.20 I woke up this morning in my dachshund-spangled pj top, my bright red plaid pj bottom and pulled on my black and white, music-decorated dorm socks. To get to the bathroom, I bypass a full-length mirror. The image stopped me in my tracks. Are you kidding me? I was trying to think of a sentence that began, “I look like a…” and I couldn’t think of anything precise enough to finish the sentence. And so, I’m thinking. How much of what I do each day is to make other people think about me in a certain way? If I were going on a weekend trip with a friend, I would not have chosen the get-up I was currently wearing to be my night’s attire, even though it was pure, unparalleled comfort. If I don’t see another human being all day, why do I put on make-up? Why do I ‘fix’ my hair? Why do I select the perfect earrings that match the sweater? Well, maybe for the same reason that I shower and care about what I eat. Maybe I do those things because I feel better about me. But maybe not. Maybe I make choices to fit in, or keep up appearances, or fill in your own cliché here. But I am evaluating things in a new light today. Let me make my choices from a place of authenticity, out of my choosing to be what is truly me and not out of creating an image. You have been warned. Self-talk #11: Be my authentic self
3.27.20 Talked with my 88-year-old mother today. And the wisdom she imparted can only come from someone who has seen it all, lived it from the ground up, and enjoyed every phase of her life. I’m partial to the phrase, “Make it work,” and I know it’s because of the can-do attitude of my parents. They lived through World War II. Their parents lived through the great depression. And here we are, living through the Virus of 2020. After the usual what-did-you-have-for-dinner and the-people-next-door-are-visiting-over-the-fence conversations, we asked one another about how life is different during these weeks. Three of the 38 retirement villages in her county have residents with the virus. Nobody in her 2900-person, multiple-acre village has any problems so far. But then, we made it personal. “What are you doing to keep your mind and body strong,” I inquired. The first answers were of her daily walk outdoors and her jumble puzzles in the daily paper. And then, “I’m not sitting around being fearful, just take things as they come. If I get sick, we’ll make the best of it. If I go to the hospital, I won’t be scared. If I die, you’ll bury me.” She wasn’t being flip or cavalier. She has lived an exciting life and has made her peace with everyone and everything. How liberating, how absolutely divine! What a fantastic place to be! My friends and my musical cohorts have heard me say many times about my musician mother, “I wish I could play the piano like my mother.” Today, I’m changing it up: I hope I will make peace with the world someday like my mother did. Self-talk #12: Absorb wisdom from the elders
3.29.2020 Today's musing was sent to me by a dear friend Dorothy Webster Steve Jobs was the co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple Corporation and died in 2011, aged 56, after losing his battle with Pancreatic Cancer. He posted the following observation just prior to his death. Very profound and a realization that only became obvious when he was confronted with his certain demise. "I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In some others' eyes, my life is the epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, my wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to. At this moment, lying on my bed and recalling my life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in have paled and become meaningless in the face of my death. You can employ someone to drive the car for you or make money for you, but you cannot have someone bear your sickness for you. Material things lost can be found or replaced, but there is one thing that can never be found when it's lost - Life. Whichever stage in life you are in right now, with time, you will face the day when the curtain comes down. Treasure love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends. Treat yourself well and cherish others. As we grow older, and hopefully wiser, we realize that a $300 or a $30 watch both tell the same time. You will realize that your true inner happiness does not come from the material things of this world. Whether you fly first class or economy, if the plane goes down - you go down with it. Therefore, I hope you realize, when you have mates, buddies, and old friends, brothers and sisters, who you caht with, laugh with, talk with, have sing songs with, talk about north-south-east-west or heaven and earth, that is true happiness! Don't educate your children to be rich. Educate them to be happy. So when they grow up, they will know the value of things and not the price. Eat your food as your medicine, otherwise you have to eat medicine as your food. There is a big difference between a human being and being human. Only a few really understand it. You are loved when you are born. You will be loved when you die. In between, you have to manage! The six best doctors in the world are: sunlight, rest, exercise, diet, self-confidence and friends. Maintain them in all stages and enjoy a healthy life." Self-talk #13: Remember this legacy
Calm in the Chaos Interfaith Center firstname.lastname@example.org 6590 Lake Road South, Brockport, New YOrk