Living Deeply with Joy

Guari and grandkids watching the birds

A glimpse of joy: Guari and grandkids watching the birds

Living Deeply with Joy

An ongoing challenge for me is maintaining a full schedule while living deeply.  I don’t like feeling busy, or running from one thing to another.  I much prefer a sense of spaciousness in the midst of my varied activities.  Living deeply enables me to have glimpses of joy, even while facing the pain, sorrow, and struggles of life.

I know many activists who have burned themselves out.  I’ve experienced burnout myself in the past, and I don’t intend for it to happen again.  My solution?  Go deeper.  (That’s my solution to many of the challenges I face.)  Pray.  Meditate.  Practice discernment–say “yes” to some things and “no” to others.  Talk with someone else who is on a spiritual path and who knows what is at stake.  Take a walk.  Take a break.  Practice any of the traditional “means of grace.”  Laugh.  Dance.  Play with children.  Do yoga or Tai Chi.  And while you’re at it, practice staying in the NOW.  Practice the presence of God.

I’m convinced that the great challenges of our time require a rising up of people who are deeply grounded in the world’s various spiritual traditions, and in the earth itself.  We need to reclaim, reinterpret, and renew these traditions so they can adequately address the institutionalized system of domination, violence, and greed that has taken over our world.  In this transitional age, we need to go deep, for we need to reinvent the world’s systems and institutions in ways that are just and sustainable and, as Thomas Berry said,  “We need to reinvent the human at the species level.”

Whatever your circumstances, may you experience a sense of spaciousness today.  May you live deeply with joy.   It will take transformed people to transform the world.

Finding Rest in God

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Last night I dreamed about going to some kind of spa.  It must have been a wish-fulfillment dream.  My Unconscious always seems to know just what I need.

I was up early this morning after a full and intense two weeks, grateful to be sitting on my deck watching the sun illuminate the trees.  It’s glorious to bask in the beauty of creation and be open to the grace that is showered upon us in every moment.

I often forget.  Whatever I’m doing becomes primary.  My resting place becomes my to-do list.

So many things are of urgent and immediate importance–economic, social, and environmental crises are all around.  I know I need to do my part, stay aware, and be willing to act.  But if I lose touch with the Holy Spirit who guides me, I won’t be clear about what to contribute or have anything of value to contribute anyway.  So wherever I am, when I remember, I consciously and deliberately pull my attention back to the present moment.  I “practice the presence of God.”

This is much easier to do when I am faithful to my regular practice of contemplative prayer and meditation.  Setting that time aside in the morning makes it more likely that I will remember and return during the activity of the day.  This is especially important when I’m working hardest and life is at its busiest.  Otherwise, in the words of Rabindranath Tagore, “my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.”

Today I’m grateful to be taking time for refreshment.  Today I remember to find my rest in God.

A Moment’s Indulgence

Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941).

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The works
that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.

Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite,
and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.

Today the summer has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs; and
the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove.

Now it is time to sit quiet, face to face with thee, and to sing
dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.

Catching Up With Myself

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I am catching up with myself on this Monday morning, after sharing the weekend with several of our beloved grandchildren.  Our time together included roasting marshmallows over our backyard campfire, storytelling and songs at bedtime, French Toast for breakfast,  craft projects, juice-making, an excursion to Deer Creek, lots of indoor and outdoor play, and a big Sunday School rock-painting project at church.

On Sunday afternoon, after the last of our grandkids got picked up, Guari and I ate lunch on the deck, while listening to the chirping of the cicadas and marveling at how quiet and still it was.  Then we took a long, luscious nap.  By evening I was energized enough to finish writing the Earth Justice Ministries “May Projects and Campaigns”  web page, which Guari then edited, formatted, and published, working late into the night.

Today, for me, is a catch-up day.  Thank God catching up with myself  and getting back to a sense of order isn’t the kind of ordeal it used to be.  I don’t have to peel myself up and start all over from scratch.  It’s not such a long way back.

What helps is having a clear sense of priorities, regardless of what is going on around me.  My first and most important priority is my foundation in God, the Source, who has many names but is indefinable, the One “in whom we live and move and have our being.”  To nurture this connection, I regularly practice meditation and contemplative prayer.

Although I am a follower of Christ, I continue to gain insights from other intellectual, spiritual, and faith traditions, including Buddhism.  In Joyful Wisdom, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche talks about practicing “stable awareness” and explains how we can use anything as a “support for meditation.”  I love this idea, and I’m using it on a daily basis.  These Buddhist teachings ring true to my experience and translate for me into Christian terms, such as “practicing the presence of God.”

Cultivating “stable awareness” and “practicing the presence of God” creates an order in my life even in the midst of apparent disorder and enables me to discern the next thing I can do to bring love, harmony, and order out of chaos.  This morning I spent time in prayer and meditation.  I took a walk with Guari.  We shared our dreams, prayed in the four directions, and did Tai Chi.  My plan now is to catch up on some of the things that didn’t get done over the weekend, including household chores.  I’ll post this blog and make a nice lunch.  Oh, and yes, I’ll take another nap.

Blessings of Creation

pathWhat beautiful Spring-like days we’ve been experiencing here in Nevada County.  I love taking walks with Guari on the path along the canals near our home.

My life is so full–of people and things that I love, of challenges and opportunities for growth, of passion to share the good news that transformation is possible, for us as individuals and through us, for the world.  Through it all I remain confident and convinced that “God is for us,” which, according to Martin Luther, is the core of the gospel.

But God is not just “for us” as individuals.  The Spirit of Love who brought us into being is “for us” as the Earth Community, interrelated and interdependent in all its various parts.  We are all part of what Matthew Fox calls “the original blessing” of creation.

Along these lines, Thomas Berry said, “The earth is the primary revelation.”  He went on to issue a warning:    “The natural world tells us: I will feed you, I will clothe you, I will shelter you, I will heal you. Only do not so devour me or use me that you destroy my capacity to mediate the divine and the human. For I offer you a communion with the divine. I offer you gifts that you can exchange with each other. I offer you flowers whereby you may express your reverence for the divine and your love for each other. In the vastness of the sea, in the snow-covered mountains, in the rivers flowing through the valleys, in the serenity of the landscape, and in the foreboding of the great storms that sweep over the land, in all these experiences I offer you inspiration for your music, for your art, your dance.”

Sometimes, when my many commitments have taken over my consciousness, a walk along the path in the woods brings me back and reminds me who I am–a child of Earth, a child of Spirit, a follower of the Way of Jesus, a person among persons, a friend among friends, an integral part of the community of life.  May I live accordingly.

Jesus, Resister, Part 1: Good News to the Poor

Grandparents for the future

During this season of Lent, some of my writings focus on what Jesus’ life, teachings, and death mean for us today, especially in the context of the great global challenges we face: climate change, economic distress, food and fresh water shortages, species extinctions, violence, terror, and war. If humanity is to meet these challenges, we will need the resources of the world’s great spiritual traditions, including Christianity.

Sadly, in its dominant forms, Christianity has often been used to support the ruling powers, pacify the masses, and justify the right to rule by the 1%. How ironic, since Jesus introduced his mission as bringing “good news to the poor.” He not only nonviolently resisted the ruling powers of his day, he created an alternative model for human community, one which we, who care about the future, can emulate today. As Walter Wink said, “To free people from the powers that possessed them was central to [Jesus’] struggle to undercut the domination System in all its forms, spiritual as well as physical, personal as well as political.” Continue reading