Monday, December 19, 2016

Loving the Real

It's a great time of year to learn how to let go of the ideal, and love the real. The problem with chasing the ideal- whether it is an cherished idea of how we, or others, or our community or our world "should" be- is that is stops us from seeing and loving what is. And yes, what is, is generally messy- with the glorious and the not-so-glorious all mixed together.
        Sometimes we try to love with the semi-conscious agenda of making ourselves, others, or the world "better." But love- the kind we hope will hold us when we are afraid and confused- has no agenda. Consider- how loving does it feel to be loved for who you "could" or "should" be in the eyes of another?
        Yeah. Not so much.
        So perhaps we could start with the one we see in the bathroom mirror each morning- especially this week when we may have expectations or hopes of seeing someone more together, less tentative or outspoken, more generous, less overwhelmed than that woman in the mirror who looks like she just wants to go back to bed.
        Oh, it's not that we can't take actions that might change what is (that coffee and shower can do wonders for the woman in the mirror.) but if we start from a place of loving what is our movement throughout the day becomes less driven and more dancing. ~Oriah

Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming helps us love what is by offering daily photos like this one of the beauty that is our world.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Quiet Cold Night

I am in a strangely content place: quiet but wanting to stay connected. A little world weary, but wanting to stay informed. Smiling at the twinkling lights of the season, but avoiding crowds of shoppers. It is, with wind chill, -15 C. Still, I bundle up late at night and go walking on the deserted streets. The sound of my boots crunching on snow take me back to walking home after choir practice as a teenager, alone in the cold star-lit darkness.

I love the impersonal nature of the cold, the way it needs to be taken into account (if we are to avoid losing fingers or toes) but does not require that we take a position, make a judgement, label it "good" or "bad." It helps me feel my smallness in the vastness of what is. It teaches me not to take things personally, even as I consider what response I can make that is needed and sustainable. It teaches me to be here. ~Oriah I may have shared this photo by Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming before. It conveys that sense of the splendid vastness that I feel out walking in the cold at night.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Why Receiving is Hard for Some of Us

As a child my brother, Doug- a year, a week and a day younger than myself- was afraid of the dark. I was not. Often, after we’d been put to bed, Doug would tip toe into my room and beg to sleep with me. There was lots of room for two small children in my double bed, but I always said no. Saying yes felt dangerous in the same way that having a teddy bear in my bed for comfort felt dangerous. I needed to be able to sleep alone in what seemed like an enormous bed, in the dark. I threw the stuffed animals on the floor. If I was afraid, I buried the fear. If I felt lonely, I denied the feeling. Anything external to myself that offered comfort could be taken away. By the time I was five and Doug was four I’d learned that needing something that could be taken away was a dangerous way to live in my mother’s house. Of course, most of this was completely unconscious, although I do remember feeling that my brother needed to toughen up or he’d get us both in trouble. When it became clear that I was not going to let him into the bed, Doug would ask to sleep on the small oval rag rug next to my bed. Reluctantly and with some impatience I would acquiesce, and he would curl up on the rug and fall asleep. Sometimes my parents found him there before they went to bed and carried him back to his own room. Occasionally I would find him there sleeping on that rug in his flannel cowboy pajamas in the morning. That I would refuse either of us the comfort we needed at such an early age makes my chest ache. I have become better at receiving, but doing so with unbridled joy is still a bit of an Olympic-level accomplishment for me. That’s okay. I enjoy and appreciate the opportunities to practice. Still, as we approach the holidays with all its giving and receiving I feel my anxiety stir, and I become more meticulous in my daily practice in an effort to remain conscious when old fears that do not belong to today arise. I offer this little story to say: may we be patient with each other over the holidays; may we remember that each person has their own history and experience that may be very different from our own; may we give what we can and receive what we need with joy and gratitude. ~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House (c) 2016

Friday, December 2, 2016

Stopping Overwhelm

Last night, a dear friend left me a phone message. I could barely hear her because the tv was turned up loud in the background. When I called back she was railing about politicians in the news, filled with fear and anger over what is happening in the world. It was 11 pm- so I said, as gently but as firmly as I could- "Turn off the television!".
        Let's take a deep breath together. Regularly. Frequently. Let's find a truly sustainable way to live, to balance the need for information that can help us contribute and participate in the world with how much (in this moment) our hearts can hold.
        Because, if we have to disconnect from our hearts in order to take in more analysis or information, our actions will not be fueled and guided by our very real love for the world.
        I am not talking about putting our heads in the sand, or only listening to uplifting news. I am talking about discovering what really sustains us in keeping our hearts open- and making sure that we do that - whether it is praying or walking on the earth, watching comedies that make us laugh, or reading great poetry, or listening to music that makes us dance.
        Our shared life needs all of us, needs us awake and aware and alert, needs us rested and calm and clear, needs us listening deeply and responding with an open heart. And make no mistake- we can say, "No!" to that which causes suffering and threatens life, without closing our hearts- if we take care of those hearts.
        Sustainability is about how we receive life from and renew resources- including the inner resources that fuel our participation in our world and in our own small lives.
        So let's take another one of those breaths together. . . . and tend ourselves, each other and the world with fierce compassion, crazy hope, and real kindness. ~Oriah

One of the things that sustains me are the spectacular photos, like this one, from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming. Seeing this egret's wings makes me pause and take a long full inhale.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dreaming in the Dark

Each day now
A little less light
Darkness tip-toeing in
Draining colour from the sky
As we head for home

Waking up in the dark
Light leaking in around the curtains
Later each morning

Moving toward the longest night
We practice letting go. . . and letting go. . . .
We dream for ourselves and our people
We remember the promise of the returning light

`Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House

Gratitude to Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming for this beautiful photo of the light and the dark.