"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."
Celebrate All The Seasons Of Your Life
Most Recent Essay
What Is Mine To Do? (01.13.21)
What is mine to do? What is mine to do? What is mine to do? Since 6 January 2021, as it seemed our country was without hope of civility, this question has been coming up within and around me. So, I write to explore my thoughts and feelings. Recent experiences inform my writing as always.
The latest experience came this morning. A sweet very busy friend took time to call to say he was thinking of me and that he had accepted a challenge to call those he loved and let them know. He left his message of caring and then challenged me to do the same. So, reaching out to others is something that is mine to do.
Yesterday an old friend had not seen an answer to his messages and withdrew into himself rather than explore what had actually occurred since non-response is not my usual pattern. It turned out to be a transmission error on his phone. So, being willing to seek answers before making judgments when something happens which I do not understand is mine to do.
Earlier this week I noticed that a lost glove had been placed on a stick by someone so the person who had lost it might see it more easily and retrieve it. So, small anonymous acts of kindness are mine to do.
Beautiful mittens arrived in the mail from a sweet niece. She is caring for two aging parents, one with dementia. Her daughter with a small toddler is suffering breast cancer therapy and she travels on her days off to assist with their care. She is serving on the front lines of COVID as a nurse. And yet, my mittens were homemade in colors that she knew I loved. When I said how grateful and how much I loved the mittens, she said it was therapy for her. So even in the midst of great difficulty, remembering to love and make time for those who love me is mine to do.
For months I have awakened with a view directly into my bathroom and thought perhaps I needed to move my bed to the other side of my bedroom for a view that seemed more nurturing. It would require a complete flip of the furniture and it seemed like too much effort. This week I realized how much effort it takes each morning to wish it was different, but take no action. It took most of the daylight hours but the furniture is moved. My view is now the rising light of morning. So, rearranging my thoughts and taking action in order to see a different view is mine to do.
A person of my generation stated she wished this country could return to the country in which we grew up. Although somewhat nervous about it, I reminded her that the country we remember is not the country my black friends remember. So, speaking up even when it is difficult is mine to do.
On 6 January, I felt so angry about what others were doing, especially Donald Trump. It moved me to tears as I passed judgment on those I observed. Then it happened. Donald Trump released a short clip that was so unpresidential and so lacking of concern for our Democracy it froze my anger. In that moment, I saw the suffering his mental illness and insatiable need for power and attention have caused in his Life and the Life of our country. My heart softened with compassion for all of us who are suffering from feelings of separation from each other. So, seeing a person who is the visual expression of human fear and still opening my heart with compassion is mine to do.
So, as I write, it occurs to me that what is mine to do changes with the experience of the moment. In the stillness of acceptance of what this moment brings, a voice that has been with me since childhood knows what is mine to do. Listening to that voice is perhaps the most important thing that is mine to do. That wise soft voice is not judgmental, sarcastic, vengeful, fearful, or hesitant, and if those thoughts creep in, listening a bit longer is mine to do.
Fear Of Falling (12.27.20)
It was summer and a glorious day, our conversations lively, and the joy of being in nature rippled through our laughter. In the moment, discussion was interesting and light, but there were two difficult river crossings in our future.
Wet slippery greenstone is the norm in the Blue Ridge area and the Moormans River is no exception. The water was knee deep and moving fast as we headed home. Perhaps it would have been wiser to move down the riverbank to look for an easier crossing. But, with shoes already wet, I waded into the river. Reaching down for a small stone in the flowing water, my footing was lost. Now sitting waist deep, getting up was no easy task. My friend responded to my bellowing, returned, and helped me to my feet. We continued down the bank to find
that easier crossing. The small stone was my gift to him; his gift to me was
Since then, fear of falling has slowly gained footing within me. On several walks of late, I’ve turned back rather than cross even the smallest of streams. On Saturday as our walk began, I asked my friends, “Any water crossings?” The answer was no, but of course there were several very very small stream crossings, which others had barely noticed. One, two steps and the stream crossing would be behind me. Challenging my fear, cross I did. We joked about how small the crossings were and how exaggerated my fear of falling had become.
So yesterday a spiritual partner met me for a walk at a nature preserve. We talked of our fears and our emotional responses to Life. She spoke of her anxiety, and I spoke of reacting in anger when the world was not as I wished it to be. We shared our challenges and patterns and healing practices. We meditated together and spoke of Lives’ choices. My heart grew tender as she shared her struggles, and I mentioned that anxiety had not been a big issue for me.
Moving down the path, we came to an unexpected stream crossing, and my fear of falling tightened my stomach. She reassured me that it was an easy few steps. I voiced my concern of wet feet on a cold day and hesitated. She took a few steps on the stones and quietly reached out her hand to me. I accepted her hand and took the four rather easy steps across the stream. We continued our meandering back to the parking lot without discussion of my need for support. The stream was crossed and behind me; the experience quickly forgotten.
Now on reflection about yesterday’s experiences, perhaps I do suffer momentary anxiety. It feels good to acknowledge that part of me as human and acceptable. It occurs to me that this beautiful friend who has difficulty dealing with her own anxiety had no problem dealing with mine. Her natural instinct was to reach out and offer exactly what I needed, support without judgment. The wisdom to deal with her anxiety is already within her, and with awareness healing is possible.
Deeper healing comes with the recognition of how difficult seeing our own fears can be and how important it is to share and take refuge in Sangha. Seeing clearly how joyous it is to give and receive needed support, brings the courage to hold our own fears with the same compassion we offer the other. May we remember.