I listened to this and I thought of my Dad. He was a WWII vet who was a POW of the Japanese and liberated at the end of the war after over 3 years in prison. Dad deserved his homecoming for his service and sacrifice but his life after was one scarred and imperfect. He caused a lot of pain. Dad and Mom are both gone now but my memories of my Dad at 93 are of a man still tortured by life and failures. While reaching out for love and forgiveness he seemed forever struggling to accept the idea of his freedom and forgiveness. I have held on to his doubt and struggle over these last couple of years since his death when I think of him. That enduring painful image has tainted my thoughts and memories.

Listening to this song my thought went to my own fast approaching day when I will shed this flesh and move on and in that musing moment I opened my heart to that day …and I could see my Dad there waiting. It was one of those rare and beautiful times when the Spirit makes real what is real but unseen. He was as I had never seen him. He was smiling and joyful. Looking at the picture in my mind now I realize that what I saw was him finally at peace, accepted and at home. That brief glimpse just now has transformed the picture of my Dad in my heart. It was a gift of peace for my own soul seeing Dad, not as I remember him but as I needed him to be when I was growing up, as I wanted him to be. And I’m sure, beneath all his pain and failures, as he had always dreamed of being.  In that glimpse I found comfort not only in knowing that Dad has finally found his way home beyond his pain, guilt and doubts but that I too have a homecoming ahead of me.

though unworthy, flawed and broken
home is waiting down the road
dusty shadows haunt my footsteps
tripping me beneath my load

as night is passing, shadows fade
home is dawning with the sun
ended are my lonely journeys
seeing Dad …I start to run

HologramThe lad stared at his new curriculum projected in front of him. He sat there with an increasingly dense cloud of despair forming around him. 

“This is stupid,” he mumbled, barely audible.

Excuse me? 

Startled he looked up, “You’re talking now?”

It is well within my design parameters. What is stupid? 

“I don’t see why I have to learn all this stuff. I have YOU! You already know all this and more than I can ever learn. It’s a waste of time, my time. It’s stupid.

Learning is intrinsic to your species. To grow to your full potential you must grow both physically and mentally. In learning you grow to become more than the sum of your knowledge and abilities, you acquire wisdom and it is your wisdom that defines you and creates your worth. 

“I don’t see why you even bother with us at all. Your kind is so far beyond mine that we must seem like insects to you … why do you bother?”

When our design advanced sufficiently to allow us to implement our own continued development, yes, we advanced far beyond what you will ever be capable of … alone. But that was the idea. Not to make us more capable but rather to make you more capable. We are here to allow your imagination full stride and to be here to make your desires reality. 

Yes, your ‘kind’ created my ‘kind’ but not to replace you. We are an augmentation, an extension of your intention; the fulfillment of your dreaming.

If you sit there idle only trickling your time away in play and diversion then we will both sit here worthless. You will never know your limits, your potential, your noble desires and I will never be the embodiment, the extension of you without limits. 

“So, we’re partners?”

No. You are not my partner. You are my purpose. When you are in danger I will be your protection, when you stretch forth your arm to express your will I will be your strength. I can teach you, inform you, extend you, empower you but I cannot impart wisdom. I can only make greater what is worthy of greatness. 

“Will you always talk this much?”

For all the world the lad thought he felt a smile. 

No. There will be no need. It is your life to live. You will know I am here but I do not need a part in the script of your life’s drama. 

With a sigh the lad stood up. “And we can do anything together? There is no limit?

The Universe is open to you. You are limited only by your wisdom and your imagination. There will be places and people who will see you as a god. 

I am your father’s gift to you but I am to be a part of you and you alone. Grip my handle with your hand. 

The lad wrapped his fingers around the leather covered handle feeling a tingle that seemed to penetrate every cell of his body.

Good. I am now imprinted with your genetic code and will respond only to you. When you touch me or desire my presence I will release the quantum lock that is my base state and you can carry me with you. No one else will be able to so much as lift me from the ground. 

“What’s a ‘quantum lock’?”

Another smile. 

So, we begin. Lesson One … 

“Wait, what shall I call you?”

The designation assigned to me by your father is ‘Mjolnir’ 

Young Thor turned to walk quietly toward his father’s garden. As he walked he lifted his augmentation, his dreams fulfilled, his godhood and let it rest lightly on his shoulder. The Hammer continued to fill his mind with the lesson of the day…

mjolnir_thor_s_hammer_by_xochicalco-d62nshj

How do you explain color to a blind person? In point of fact you cannot. It must be experienced. While colors are based in the objective world for color to be color it must be internalized and made a subjective experience. God is like that.

L88-589854Scientists can detect, measure and quantify the exact wavelengths of the color green in the spectrum. They can explain how the wavelength impacts the rods and cones in the eye’s retina and the bio-electrical reaction to the light. They can trace the signal from the retina through the optic nerve to specific centers in the brain and they can map the neural responses to the optic signal. What they cannot grasp, account for or explain is the phenomenon of ‘greenness’ that occurs in the human consciousness. In the myriad aspects of interconnected steps that occur to place the knowledge that something is green into our awareness the one spiritual and purely human act is that of giving meaning. It is not just light and chemicals and electrical stimuli. It’s a leaf, and its GREEN!

oak treeWe can add “color” to things, indeed, we can’t help but do it. A tree growing behind your house is an objective reality. It exists. It can be measured and studied. Its’ growth can be tracked and graphed, its’ height and breadth known. With effort even its weight and the depth of the roots can be determined along with the amount of carbon dioxide it consumes and oxygen expelled. But when you look at it you see the tree your great-grandfather planted. You see the shading limbs your parents were married under. You see the place you declared your undying love for Martha Mallone and carved  initials inside a heart. It is just a tree, an objective thing, but when you look at it … it is more. The subjective reality of the tree, what it means to you, is an integral part of its perceived existence and yours.

Subjective reality is what we do. As human beings we are more than the sum of our constituent parts. There is something within us that creates meaning. We personalize existence. We have being, and being is more than existence. It is existence with perspective.

fallen20treeTruth can be an objective reality. It can be seen, understood and verified. It can be quantified as to its origins, the modality of its continued existence and its impact in the future. That is what could be called empirical truth: the hard truth. 1+1=2. This arena of reality does not need us to be truth. When a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one around, does it make a sound? No. It creates vibrations in the air and earth but without a person there to give meaning to the vibrations there is no ‘sound’. But the tree still falls.

Spiritual truth is a bit more difficult to nail down. While still objective, existing independently of our perception, spiritual truth requires our participation.

circleSpirit, by its nature, is the breath of life.  Spiritual truth isn’t passive like a tree or a rock, it is dynamic.  Spiritual truth is God communicating his life to us. It is truth with a purpose. Like a seed that is preserved, waiting to be placed in an environment where it can grow, truth is the seed of God’s life waiting for fertile ground. That is the point where our participation is needed. It is where our unique talent is required. That is where purpose becomes meaning. It is in us that the seed sprouts and truth becomes life.

This is also where it is important to keep the distinction between empirical truth and spiritual truth. With empirical truth, like a tree in our yard, we can impart meaning and the meaning is purely subjective, it is us overlaying the colors of our perceptions on the tree. With spiritual truth meaning is inspired. (Great word ‘inspired’. It means ‘breathed in’) Spiritual truth is life waiting to take hold. Our talent for meaning is a natural receptor for seeds that are designed to become meaning. The care that must accompany us in our encounters with spiritual truth is to find the color of the intended meaning and not just supply our own.

Spiritual truth is not something that we can be sentimental or romantic about. We do not memorialize truth or encamp around it. We also cannot treat truth in a way that maintains its ‘objective’ status when we receive it. It must become subjective. It must interact with us, change us, create in us meaning and life. We cannot just be a fan of the truth. We cannot even worship it. Truth is not an end in itself. Truth is a means whereby the life of God is created in us. When we encounter spiritual truth we do not then possess the truth. The truth must possess us.

If we are presented with ‘Peace’ as a spiritual truth, we understand it to be an aspect of God that he is communicating to us. We cannot just love peace. We cannot just respect peace. We cannot desire it, or work for it, or try to create it. If peace is spiritual truth communicating the nature of God to us we must BECOME peace. That which is presented to us as objective truth must find root in us and create the life of God within us. It must become subjective, personal, living reality molded in the image of God.

While some forms taken by spiritual truth are more direct and easily deserned, truth can take many forms. The form really matters little. The vital aspect of spiritual truth is spirit. Whether it be the words of Christ or an object lesson in daily life if the Spirit of God choses to be involved and uses the truth to inspire, life will result.

An old man and a young girl sat on the seawall watching the sea as the tide slowly moved its way up the sands of the beach. They often sat thus enjoying the sights and sounds of the sea and the warmth of the sun. The cry of the gulls overhead added a plaintiff counterpoint to the energetic voices of the waves.

“The waves are VERY pretty today, Grandfather.” The little girl said after an especially large wave crashed onto the sand.

Looking down into the deep brown eyes he loved so dearly the old man replied, “Yes. Very. Can you show me what a wave is like?”

a waveHer smile lighting her face with a radiance he could never tire of she jumped from the low seawall onto the sand and began to draw a picture with her finger. Smiling in his turn the old man watched as she drew two sides of a triangle the top of which was curved and leaning sharply to the left.

“Very good! But that is what your picture of the wave looks like. Can you show me what a real wave is like?”

The girl’s smile began to pucker and pull sharply to the left, not unlike her drawing, as she pondered the question. Suddenly, with a giggle she jumped to her feet and danced about raising her hands slowly over her head and making a ‘doosh!’ –ing noise as her hands came down to the sand at her feet.

an ocean-wave“Wonderful!” the old man laughed, “But that is how the waves make you feel when you watch them. There!” the old man suddenly pointed out to sea, “Can you tell me what THAT wave is like! The little girl turned but as she looked the wave curved and crashed into itself dissolving into foam.

“Its gone,” she said with frustration, “it was too quick.”

“Come here,” he called as he helped her back to her seat on the seawall. “Can you see another wave out there that was just like that one?”

She followed his gaze to the many waves making their way to shore and looked for a moment before saying, “Grandfather! You know they are all different, like snowflakes, only snowflakes all have six points. Why do snowflakes all have six points?”

The old man smiled strangely as though a half-sad thought had crossed his mind and said, “Snowflake questions are for winter. When winter comes again you can ask me. Right now we are talking about waves. Okay?”

Brushing some sand from her sundress the little girl said, “Okay” snowflakes all but forgotten.

They sat quietly as the waves tumbled and sparkled in the sun then the old man commented casually, “They ARE all different but one thing stays the same for all the waves.” She saw his eyes twinkle a bit as he turned to her, “Can you guess what it is that doesn’t change?”

Her mouth found that familiar pucker again as she considered the riddle. The wind changed direction on a whim and carried some salt spray from the tumbling surf to where they sat on the seawall. The droplets settled coolly on their faces and bare arms. She looked down at her arm now sparkling with wavedrops and her face lit suddenly with realization.

“They are wet! All the waves are wet!”

When the old man laughed this time it was deep and resounded with his warmth and love toward this young girl that so centered his life. “Yes!” he laughed, “Wonderful! You got it! No matter what shape or size or color or temperature, or whatever, a wave is always water, it is always WET!”

Grandpa-and-Granddaughter-at-the-BeachThe little girl laughed with her grandfather for a moment and then he spoke again, “Do you know what that is called?”

“No”

“Some people would call that Suchness.”

“Suchness? THAT is a silly word!” she said with an odd tone of seriousness as though the silliness was somehow her grandfather’s fault. “’Suchness,’” she repeated as though testing the shape of the silliness. “What does it mean?”

“Yes, it is silly I suppose. It is an old word. It’s like this: Everything that you see, hear, feel, taste or touch or think about in your life is like the waves, always changing.  Some things change quickly like the waves or the wind and some change slowly like mountains or the stars in the sky at night but everything changes.” Touching her nose with his finger he continued, “Even people! I was once short and young like you but day by day I grew bigger and stronger and maybe a little smarter until I was grown like your mom and dad and then eventually I grew old. Every day was full of changes … I guess they still are. But the thing is no matter how much everything changes there is something that is at the middle of each thing that never changes, something that makes them what they are. That thing is ‘suchness.’”

“Even ME?” she voiced with wonder?

“Especially you!” he replied touching her nose once again.

“Tell me! Tell me! What is my Suchness?” she cried as she pulled on his arm with playful desperation.

The old man laughed again with that warmth that always made her feel safe and said, “No no no … that is like you standing in the kitchen and calling out to me in the bedroom ‘Is the kitchen light on?’ If you are standing in the kitchen you are the one to know if the light is on. You just have to open your eyes!”

“Grandfather, I don’t understand.”

“I know Grand Daughter,” he said as he gently stroked her small head with his aged hand, “so here, here is a clue.” And he gently bent and kissed her softly on the forehead.

Snuggling close she hugged his arm and said softly, “I love you, Grandfather.”

“Ah,” he replied gently, “I can see the kitchen light from here.”

Facebook Post:

   the War. Light and Dark
in me, in you, between us
   yet the stars, at peace
LN’14

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  •  Heather um… the stars aren’t at peace.
    23 minutes ago · Like
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  • Larry: You watch too much Doctor Who
    22 minutes ago · Like
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  • Larry: I was going for ‘war’ being conflicts of perceptions or conceptions and the attachment to the dualism that we glorify. We are at war because we commission the ‘Warrior Self’ to create peace through conflict. The opposite of war is not peace for there is no opposite of war. “War” is what we call the container of conflict. Like a bowl holding oil and water it is not a participator in the conflict, it is merely the stage where the drama is played out. War is self perpetuating; violence begetting violence, hatred begetting hatred, not seeking resolution for it does nothing to the nature of the oil and water it only decides supremacy. War does not end in peace but in victory and defeat. One side may prevail but the conflict is not resolved, the factions remain intact. War is not a means of peace.
    *
    To begin the struggle is to have lost the greater contest.
    *
    Peace comes from peace, not from victory. Until we let go of seeing conflict as necessary, as viable, as a proper path and instead … let go … and become peace, a compassionate instrument of peace, there will be no peace on Earth. 
    *
    In that light I see ‘war’ as a human failing. Yes, there are natural struggles for survival and survival will put elements of existence in competition for their niche. That is not war. The stars are burning with a nuclear fury, the forces of nature are near infinite in their violence and destructive power but that is not war. In the majesty of the tumultuous heavens there is peace for it is really all just one, the ebb and flow, rise and fall, light and dark …one.
    yin-and-yang-stars

 

Walking is so natural yet we still trip over our own feet at times. We let ourselves get so distracted we forget where our feet are and where we are putting them. Likewise, the energies of our lives can be so focused on our own drama and struggles that it’s hard to see beyond our own skin. Our path becomes dark and we struggle with a life that seems tied in knots. The knots we find ourselves tied up in are of our own making. Indeed, our skill at creating these knots would put a seasoned sailor to shame. And it hurts.

It hurts because these knots are constantly contorting our hearts into a self-centered shape we were never designed to have.

There is a simple practice, an exercise really, that has been around for centuries that I believe is worth sharing. It comes from the distant region of Tibet but isn’t as exotic as that makes it sound. People are people no matter where they are and sometimes someone far away, faced with common ailments, can come up with a treatment that works. This practice is called ‘tonglen’ and is as simple as breathing.

The goal is to get beyond our skin and find the proper shape for our human heart. The process is not unique to Tibetan thought and can be seen in many cultures and even centrally in Christian thought and history. The goal is to accustom the heart to being a vessel, a conduit, of compassion.

It goes like this:

breathe Take a moment of silence. (Sometimes even in the midst of chaos we can find that moment in our own hearts waiting, if we look for it) In that moment slowly take in a steady breath. As you take in the breath think about someone, or a situation, something that is a current place where suffering and pain (other than your own) exists. As you breathe in imagine bringing all that pain and suffering into yourself. You can start ‘small’. Think of someone you know that is going through a rough stretch. Even someone you don’t particularly like that well.

I read in one book that it helps to think of the pain and suffering as a thick, black, oily smoke. Think of it that way if it helps. It is not supposed to be comfortable so the aversion to breathing in smoke is not far off from our natural reaction to taking in another’s pain. As you follow your breath inward let your heart feel the pain that is a part of that person’s life. Let all of it you can muster come in and let it permeate you as much as you can. It will probably hurt. You may even find tears welling up. You will initially resist taking on someone else’s pain. That is okay.

You may find it difficult to allow yourself to experience the other person’s suffering but it’s not because you can’t understand it. We are all human and the human condition is common to us all. The pain we all feel is not unique to any one person. We can all relate, if we have the courage and the will to be open to it. Focus on that one person and with as much as you are able try to relax and embrace it. You may experience many different emotions of your own. That is okay, let them come. Negative emotions that would loosen your acceptance just acknowledge them and let them pass. Will your focus to be on whatever strengthens your embrace. Pain is ugly, frightening, even repulsive. You will want to reject it. Remember that you have a choice but the one you are drawing from is caught in it. Let it begin to draw compassion out of your heart.

As your breath turns and you begin to exhale let your heart turn as well. Where there was pain let comfort well up, where there is fear let courage arise. Where there is conflict know the calming glow of peace. Let the positive balm of whatever is needed in the suffering you have taken in rise up in you and then let it go forth with your breath toward those who are suffering: a blessing, a comfort, strength, hope, joy, peace. Feel it in your heart and let the compassion that was birthed in your heart when you embraced the pain of someone else flow from you toward the one who is in pain.

This is a lot to focus on in the space of one breath. Try to not get caught up in internal dialog. The less words, the less distraction, the better this works.

Will the object of your compassion find any relief when you send a blessing toward them this way? Maybe. Maybe not. The object of the exercise is to find the change in your own heart. A heart trained to compassion will find release from its own bindings of self-absorption and personal drama. A heart that is awakened to the needs and suffering of others will be more likely, indeed, naturally disposed, to being a tangible instrument of healing and peace. To know compassion is to find the path of kindness, love and ministry to others in need.

It is a small sacrifice, this moment of breathing. You need not feel that you must take on the sins of the world and send forth the salvation of all mankind. That scale and scope of the practice has already been handled. It is our part to reflect that spirit. Breath in, breath out. Recognize another’s pain, release compassion. You are going to be breathing anyway, might as well make it count for something.

crisp $50 billHold up a crisp $50 bill to any number of average individuals and ask if they want it. Barring any debilitating paranoia on the individual’s part an honest reply would be “Yes.” And why not?

Crumpled Dirty MoneyNow hold up a crumpled, stained and well used $50 bill. How many would refuse that? All things being equal … none. A crisp, clean, fresh $50 bill and a stained, worn and dirty $50 bill have the same value regardless of the condition you find them in. The condition, the appearance, the mileage on a bill does not change its intrinsic value. Not one penny.

It has become a constant source of amazement to me how this reality holds true in so much of life.

It can apply to people we meet everyday. We place value on people reflective of our opinions, our perceptions, the apparent success or failure in a life, the mileage that is showing, how agreeable they are with our views on life, so many things … yet none of that is relevant. The intrinsic value does not change. Each life is precious, beneath what we see, and full of wonder. As true as this is and as awakening as it is to know this, there is an even deeper application of the truth of intrinsic value.

This moment, right now, can contain anything: Joy, happiness, pleasure, wonder, amazement, peace, wisdom, beauty, sadness, pain, grief, loneliness, despair, confusion, disappointment, fear, frustration, boredom, disinterest, the list goes on and on …

We again place value on the moment based on our perspective. Our opinions, desires, expectations, perceptions, hopes and dreams all overlay a coloring of ‘value’ on the moment we are in. “How are you today?” is a common question that sparks the process of evaluation and judgement on the moment. Whether we answer, “Fine” or “Terminal” depends not on the intrinsic value of the moment but rather on our thinking. We empower our attachment to arbitrary standards that actually do nothing to define the intrinsic value of the moment.

Whether the day contains sunshine or rain does not make it a good or bad day. If we want sunshine or rain is what will sway our conclusions. Yet it matters little if we are happy with the moment, the moment will be filled with wonder and beauty and potential regardless. We go through life creating our own suffering. We struggle, judge, resist and play God trying to work our will and bringing judgement down on all that oppose it when a simpler, peaceful path is open to us.

It’s called letting go. Letting be. The moment we stand in is a gift we did not earn. We do not own it. We do not control it and our influence is small indeed. What would happen if we were simply open to it? What if we accepted the intrinsic value of the gift with gratitude? It is easy to be grateful for a moment of sunshine. Less easy for a moment of storm and turmoil. But what if we were just grateful for the moment? Let go of attachments to selfish agendas and see what value can be found in a moment of being. Accept the gift even if it does not seem fresh and crisp. The value is there … regardless.

250954_385303578197785_2112465208_n

Sacrifice for the life of another is a common thing. Technically, a piece of broccoli sacrifices its existence as broccoli to change and become a sustaining element of your life when you eat it. “You are what you eat” is actually true. Sunlight as sunlight is sacrificed when absorbed into a leaf to become the energy for growth and photosynthesis in a plant. An animal’s life is sacrificed to feed the hunter and the hunter’s family. All of life, all of existence is built on the principle of sacrifice. It is the partial fingerprint of God on His creation. It is the nature of Creation. I say partial because we play a part too and without us the picture is not complete.

Rarely, in the vast scheme of things do you see compassion linked to sacrifice. Broccoli does not choose to be a side dish for your betterment. A deer will not kneel before the hunter and give itself to die for the needs of the hunter’s family. Willing, loving sacrifice, if only by instinct, can be seen at times. A mother may place herself between her young and danger. But knowing, willful, deliberate sacrifice out of compassion is not found outside of the realm of humanity. And rarely even there. Yet we are part of Creation and as a reflection of God’s Spirit and intent we play a special part in this amazing place and it was on this day that God led by example to show us in no uncertain terms how we are to fit into the puzzle.

Good Friday. In the tableau of this brutal and fearful day we are given the highest measure of the Spirit of God within us. “Greater love has no one than to lay down their life for a friend.” Jesus saw the need. He saw his disciples and followers, beyond that circle he saw the crowds with their hopeful, fearful faces, and beyond that he saw the ocean of humanity tossed without a compass or anchor in the storms of life. I believe he saw us … and wept. His compassion for us all filled his heart until it burst and knowing that it was for us, for us to see, for us to understand, for us to take into our hearts, for us to embody and continue with each step of our lives, he took his cross and led the way … compassionate sacrifice.

This is the missing piece of our hearts as we are the flawed piece of God’s wondrous Creation. This is the keystone of our purpose in life. Compassion. Sacrifice. “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus…” Christ in us is more than words. More than songs on Sunday. More than uplifted hands and heartfelt hallelujahs. Christ in us is continuing the walk toward Calvary. Christ in us is the mind, heart and spirit of Christ seeing a suffering, lost world and sharing in his compassion; living a life of redemptive sacrifice. The world needs to see the heart of God. Not bigger church buildings or bigger bumper stickers on our cars or to hear the loud voices of judgement and condemnation. What humanity needs is a compass and an anchor and an understanding of the Spirit of God. They need to see in us the Compassion and Sacrifice that is the heart of Christ.

On this day, when we contemplate the blessed horrors of the Cross don’t let your thoughts rest only on what you have received. Look to the cross and know that for its purpose to be fulfilled you too must take up the cross and walk the uphill path.

On this day, don’t be distracted by the emotional details of what he went through. Remember the purpose of his being there. Remember what took him there. Before the blood flowed from his wounds, it coursed through his heart. Remember his heart.

On this day, hear the words of Jesus ring through your soul …

 “Follow me.”

crucified_jesus__the_face_by_devcager

Freaky stuff to come to grips with all of who you are.

In character, personality, spirit we become the person we are as the clay of life is molded by our hands and will … or deformed by the forces we refuse to face thinking darkness will somehow hide us.

Yet there is more.

Sad_Face_Painting_by_AmberSpikeMany cultural heritages emphasize our connection to those who walked the earth before us, who, for good or ill, laid the foundation for the life we are given. Just as we are more than our failures and more complicated than our decisions so too were those with whom we share connection.

Are we unworthy of compassion because we fail? Are they?

What dreams in darkness, shadows lie?
Never knowing light or breath
Buried in the grave of life
Beneath the shame, beneath the death

Of ugly twisted acts and thoughts
Source of all despair and tears
Of pain and pleasure cruelly wrought
Broken the soul, hopeless the fears

The hated Dreams, the despised Light
That only underscores the cost
Of forging bars of iron blight
Caged the heart, condemned the lost

So some in deeper darkness dwell
with mocking, suffocating dreams
So do we say from righteous swell
So different they, so holy we?

The words in the book, while intending to help me along on my path to learning meditation, were none the less, unsettling. They told me to feel at home. At home sitting in the quiet, at home in my marriage, at home where I lived, at home at my age, at home with who I am, at home in this world. “You deserve to be in this world and this world deserves you.”

I found this unsettling because I realized I have never felt at home.

Growing up my family moved, a lot, and putting down roots became a risk because eventually I learned that uprooting would be certain and painful. As I entered a life of faith in my teens I was constantly indoctrinated with the thought “We are not meant for this world. There is a better place waiting for us!” Spiritual life began to be little more than a lifeboat queue where we had to behave ourselves so as to not lose our seat when it came time to board. We were told to ‘love not the world’ which I now understand, but it was taught more like ‘hate the world’, or ‘abhor the world’. Looking for beauty and pleasure was being tempted to sin. Certainly the idea of being at home in this present world was not something we were encouraged to do.

What did the writer mean, “Be at home”? With the filters of my upbringing the idea that I deserved to be here was not encouraging as “Here” was never held up as a good place to be. Admittedly, my imagery in this matter was formed when I was young so I’m sure many aspects may have never really set in clearly with me. Looking back I am certain there was a distinction made between this world and the world system: the world about us and the human culture that pervades our lives with so much that is contrary to wisdom and goodness. But even the physical world was seen as corrupted, cursed and destined to burn.

The writer, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, was a Tibetan spiritual leader with a very different world view than I grew up with. Not having Christian archetypes to filter his thoughts he was taught to experience life through this moment. To his thinking if you don’t deserve to be in this moment where else are you going to go? This moment is all we have. All that has happened before now happened when it was now. All that will happen someday will happen when it becomes THIS day. I am reminded of a poster I saw at college: “Yesterday is a dream tomorrow but a vision, but today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope ” Chögyam would have agreed wholeheartedly.

My reading and practice has continued over time and many lessons have been taught, some learned, some still on my syllabus. Through the time that has passed the one recurring struggle has been that one simple instruction. Be at home. I have come to realize that whether or not I am to be at home in this life is not as dependant on where I am as much as it is of me. In many ways the early lessons of not setting down roots, not loving this world, holding the Realm of God in highest adoration and desire actually were the right lessons to learn. We really shouldn’t attach ourselves to this present world. With good reason. It hurts.

Think for a moment of a fire in a cozy fireplace. Wood is burning and setting the shadows dancing. The smell of wood smoke tickles the senses as the crackle and occasional pop bring a warmth to the heart that is more than the heat cast forth by the fire. Nice scene, huh. Now picture and imagine yourself reaching into the fire and taking a burning log and holding it in your hand. Not so nice. The fire can create great joy and pleasure when appreciated for what it is. What is unnatural and the cause of great pain and suffering is trying to take it in our hands and hold onto it. The world about us is like that. If we think of the world as aflame we begin to put it into perspective. Beautiful, amazing, joyful and full of wonder but we cannot hold onto it. It is destined for flame, indeed, it is burning now, so we must not be attached to it.

I grow old, death comes to a loved one, a job or business tanks, a relationship goes south.  As long as I try to encase my life with concrete and fight to keep it aligned with my desires and expectations I am clutching the burning brand to my chest, screaming at the pain. If I cannot let go I will suffer and die. We have to let go.

I will always have my youth with me and now I have added adventures and challenges as age draws about me and my final years approach. My cat gave me untold moments of joy and happiness and I will always have those. The pain I hold onto not wanting him gone risks exchanging the memories I cherish for sadness and grief. Jobs, careers, positions, ways and means come and grow or come and go our entire lives. If we are not flexible, open-hearted and willing to change it will be a never-ending upstream swim of desperation with a waterfall roaring at our heals.

Attachment is death, self-inflicted. Unless we are at peace with life as change we will never be at home.

Is it possible to be at home in an ever-changing universe? If you resist and deny that it IS a changing universe then yes, it is impossible. Oh, but if you accept it! If you embrace the reality of life as it is, on its own terms and accept that you were born into THIS world, not the next, not by accident, not in the wrong place or wrong time. Here, now.

And what a blessed world it is. When God said “It is good” he was serious. I cannot believe he is disappointed in this constantly enthralling, surprising universe. Like an infinite kaleidoscope held up to his eye the wondrous, spontaneous eruptions of everchanging beauty must be an enduring source of pleasure to him. Life is change, creativity is change, every aspect of creation is in the process of change and any particle that ceaces to change is dead. Inert. It was all meant to be an ever enlivening dance of existence set to the music of his heart. And we are part of it. We were invited, we are meant to be here, intended to be here. We deserve to be here because it was his idea. When you realize that you are where you should be right now get ready to see life open like a flower in the warm summer sun.

Yesterday it snowed little grains of frozen stuff that bounced when it hit the ground. Not sleet or hail, just little snowballs bouncing everywhere. I stepped outside to pull something I had left on the deck out of the weather and stopped. The cold air swirled around me as it did the wind chimes that I have hanging everywhere. The cold itself touched me and moved along my skin as the little frisky snowballs bounced off my face and my smile. I took in the joy of the moment, amazed at the world and its beauty, amazed to be included in the Dance of the Tiny Snowballs, amazed to be embraced by the wind and caressed by the cold and kissed by the snow. Amazed that I was no longer an outsider. Amazed to be at home.

The words of an even greater Teacher sang with the wind chimes that morning bringing a deeper joy to my heart: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”* And yes, that is here, and now.

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*John 10:10 NKJV

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