JUST A LITTLE LINGER, JUST A LITTLE LONGER

Wrapped up loosely in a summer’s afternoon.  No need for catching up, already carefully caught, meaningful meanderings along a brick path, herringbone, worn thin by a score of similar circlings, wandering in all kinds of seasons of knowing and not knowing.

Not a labyrinth. More a winding road to a clearing.

 I just want to linger.  Now this tall stakes of bright green, orange, and red boast a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes. Smells like growing. Now that mint flaunts her power to proliferate.  Shall I gather up you here Blue, and Black-eyed Susans, to contain bold vibrancy in a Mason jar, as if that could really happen, just a little longer?  

I have watched most precious to me, in air and sky just like this, saw them swing high in that open field, splash in the shade over there by oaks and poison ivy, all pink and soft and perfect. Thank you. I just want to linger here for just a little longer.

The woods are everywhere where I am.  They are our always.  Woods that have been shelter and cozy and exploration. Boundaries and openings.  Seek we will, still, these woods, quiet and full.  Moving, taking our past and bringing it too.  Moving into our new moments; those not yet born, the ones they, whoever they are, call pregnant with possibility.

Paths yet to have our footprints unfold in tomorrows soon.  But just for now, I want to linger a little longer.

Advertisements

UBUNTU

Ubuntu is an African term that says, “I am because you are, you are because I am.”  It is an age-old African philosophy of compassion and being in harmony with all of creation.  This idea of harmony can be a helpful construct when learning to live at peace with yourself and others.  It allows for flexibility and individuality, and a mutuality of purpose. It clears for us a vision of shared humanity.

Musically speaking, harmonizing is essential.  An orchestra may all be playing the same piece but the various instruments are stressing minor and major chords and their own particular sound to enhance the piece.  Without each of the players in harmony, the finished work would be different, less, or just plain awful.

This can be applied to our personal and professional lives as well.  Do you harmonize with other people or do you expect them to harmonize with you?  When someone says no to something, do you find yourself ready to argue?  If you ever feel like you are forcing a situation with a little too much self-will, what would happen if you just said, Okay?

If we can bend a little or are willing to see something from another’s point of view, we can find resolution’s not seen when we are trying to force our hand.  We find compatibility, when at first all were seeing is discord.  We can remember Ubuntu, “I am because you are, you are because I am”.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  If we really aren’t compatible with certain situations, it may be time to leave.  In addition, there are moments when we do need to stand up for ourselves. There are also times when it’s fun to say or do things to deliberately challenge or provoke others.  A good banter now and again has its pleasures.

However, we (myself included) self-reliant types would do well to practice a wee bit of nonresistance.  We do NOT lose our identity when CHOOSING to harmonize. Wouldn’t our energy poured out in harmony, instead of attempting to overpower someone or to resist for resistance’s sake, be cleaner and more efficient?!

Ubuntu is not just saying live and let live.  It’s living together.  It involves enough self-awareness to be ourselves, and enough adaptability to fit that self into different situations.  We can be ourselves and still be part of a couple, team, environment, or group.   Interdependence really does provide for the healthiest and most creative solutions for our relationships and our world.

When you begin to practice Ubuntu, friends, lovers, and colleagues will most likely notice a change in your interactions with them, and ask what’s up.  You can simply say, “Ubuntu.”

An Ode to Late Bloomers

What a gift it is to be a late bloomer.  How wonderful to sense that the best of what is to flower in us is still around the corner!

Unitarian Thomas Edison’s 4th grade teachers said he was “unable to learn.” Another Unitarian friend, Louisa May Alcott, was told by an editor that her writing would never appeal to the public. And believe it or not, Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for his lack of good ideas!

So today’s post is about no one else predicting for you what your future will hold.  It is about persistence, about staying true to who you are or more accurately, discovering who you are.  I have lived long enough to recognize that those that live in the past of their “glory days”  are inhabiting a life too small and confining for the ocean of possibilities out there.

When my eldest daughter was in high school, she oftentimes felt (as so many others at that tender age do) like an outsider.  Pep rallies, the hottest Juicy Couture, or the latest teen craze never quite resonated with her.  She maneuvered the daily mores of the social hierarchy in her own quiet way, trying not to appear awkward, avoiding attention.

Never seeking the limelight, her passions, perhaps peculiar for her age,  were what consumed her thoughts and shaped her life in a way quite different from her peers.

Hair in a disheveled bun, with clips carelessly attempting to contain a mane of hair, she would move through the halls with an oversized satchel, overflowing with papers, read and unread.  Flyers for social justice events, calls to raise awareness for the victims of Darfur, fund-raising to assist the  microlending  opportunities for women in the Dominican Republic, all shoved and crumpled in the bursting sack.  One history teacher humorously remarked, “You always come to school looking like a homeless person.”

She now thrives at one of our finest universities, with friends, an authentic and confident voice, and finding connections and pathways to help foster the changes she wants to see in our world.

I don’t know how old you are.  We always say that age doesn’t really matter, “you’re as young as you feel”.  But I also know that aging is a big deal in our culture, and that youth is an idol like no other.

Yet remember that you still contain buds ripe for blossoming.  Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until her 70s.  Never count yourself out.

“Why should she give her bounty to the dead?  What is divinity if it can come only in silent shadows and in dreams?  Shall she not find in comforts of the sun, in pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else in any balm or beauty of the earth, things to be cherished like the thought of heaven.  Divinity must live within herself: Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow; grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued elations when the forest blooms; gusty emotions on wet roads on autumn nights; all pleasures and all pains, remembering the bough of summer and the winter branch.  These are the measures destined for her soul.”

The poem, Sunday Morning; the poet, Wallace Stevens- published in his fifties.

Loving Kindness Meditation

There is an ancient and transformative meditation that the Buddha encouraged that elicits a gentle spirit, towards ourselves and others.

It is a practice that opens the heart toward forgiveness, even towards those who we may have deemed enemies. We may have people in our life who have caused us great pain or we may feel have stolen from us our essential self.  This, of course, is an illusion (though it can hold a powerful and long lasting spell on us if we are not awakened to it).  With loving kindness meditation, we can be restored to remember who we are, to listen our own good heart, our own best Self.

We can discover the wisdom to open the doors and windows of the Spirit.  It begins, always,  with a loving kindness towards ourselves.  It is after all, almost impossible to truly love others…until we know, love, and accept ourselves.  From this touchstone, we can spread our ability to love towards those in our inner circle, and then out into the wider world.

Begin with the breath of mindfulness, it is the breath that calls us to this moment.  It is life’s breath.  It is the breath that breathes through you, that you do not have to control, that you do not ultimately control. Be in your body.  It is a good body, and worthy of your care and respect.

Each day, for as many days as you can be present, repeat these ancient words:

“May I be filled with loving kindness/May I be well in body and mind/May I be safe from inner and outer dangers/May I be happy/Truly happy and free”*

*(taken from Jack Kornfield’s Audio Meditation on Loving Kindness)

I do this, dear reader, and it is changing me.  I watched a woman laughing on a 100 degree day in Charlotte, NC with her labrador retriever, getting cooled off in a beautiful fountain in the park.  She was directing her dog to the places that he could catch a drink of water.  She maneuvered him so deftly, so joyfully…it was only as I left that I realized that she was blind, and that this dog was her eyes.  Or perhaps something more?

With loving kindness, we are given eyes to see.  She was seeing, though not without the aid of  natural sight.

And last night, I caught a glimpse of early summer evening light on two church steeples and the glint  of their brass weathervanes…signs of old New England, and felt blessed, blessed to be exactly where I was.  Steeped in love and kindness towards myself, the ones I have been given to love, and towards those who crossed my paths…all bathed in this light.  Blessed be.