"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."
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My physical body arrived on this planet during this time of lengthening shadows. The wisdom of finding joy in both darkness and light seems to have been borne within me too. The shadows that have crossed my path have brought great learning as I have come to accept what I cannot change. Each morning as the light returns, my joy and gratitude is a sweet reminder of all that is part of my co-creation with this amazing Universe.
I remember the exact moment during my most difficult experiences when I chose joy over grief, laughter over tears, giving over receiving, acceptance over judgments. My tiny grandsons were playing in the Florida sun with their Mom and Dad, and the grief of recent losses hung heavy within my heart. Suddenly as they looked up, the light all around us was reflected in their sparkling eyes. It was then that I set a deep intention to find and be grateful for the beauty of this Life in all its forms. And, although the shadows of Life still arrive, light angles remind me that change is constant, and joy will return and bring clarity if I am open to it.
The reward for these longer nights of Winter is more time to light candles and use their reflections to see the possibilities of this moment without the mind-created distractions of the past and future. As my focus narrows to now, peace arrives. Each experience seen within the bigger context of living this amazing Life brings compassion and gratitude. It is all about the light we allow into this moment that creates wisdom and joy that does not require clinging. As shadows and light reflections dance around us in the cold crisp air of shortening days, may we encounter joyful awareness with deep gratitude to see this moment clearly. Winter Solstice is on the horizon! May we give thanks. ____________________________________________ So Much MoreMonday, as I do so often, I stopped by the River on my way to run errands; to take a short walk and to meditate near nature. On this day, the River was whispering and the rocks glimmered in the fall sunlight and the water colors were of every shade and hue, reflecting the Life around it. Peacefully I sat. Giggles of children rang out through the trees and their footsteps met my ears. I looked up. These two 5-6 year old kids froze in their tracks and one said, “Ohoooo, there’s an old woman!” Their cautious feeling of danger was so visible. Not wanting to frighten them further, I smiled and asked them if they were enjoying the River. They said they were and continued their chatter and play as children do. Behind them came their embarrassed parents having overheard their children. They suggested to me that their girls needed to be reminded of politeness filters. We chuckled together and I said, “Not at all, I am an old woman to them, but I am so much more.” We chatted for a while, they moved on, and I sat by the River as if nothing had happened.
But something had happened! Change had happened. I had acknowledged that some would perceive me as an elderly woman, and some might even be frightened by my appearance. It was a present moment experience of both my bruised ego and of my deeper understanding that I am so much more than a body that looks like this “old woman.” Our Sangha’s “mindfulness of the body study” came to mind, and my meditation took on a whole new depth. This body has served me well. It has brought into this realm of physical Life a shared strength, creativity, compassion, love, courage, and yes, sometimes suffering.
Mary Oliver says it best: “I was born here, and I belong here, and I will never leave.…” As I sat in wonder at the mystery of all Life, and considered the elements that make up my body and everything else, the truth of this beautiful poem was clear to me. Mary Oliver goes on to write, as only the language comimg through her body can, “…a little while and then this body will be stone; then it will be water; then it will be air.” Life is ever changing and the body that carries it will take many forms that are impermanent. I remember clearly when I was in a child’s body, bouncing around uninhibited and free. Filters were just a thing in the heating system. This deeper understanding of the nature of Life brings me comfort as this “work in progress;” at this moment, this body is that of an elderly woman and so much more. In fact, some would observe that I am still bouncing around and free. Working on my politeness filters still.
With a sense of gratitude for all the Life I saw surrounding me, my soaring spirit rose and walked into my day with a humble understanding that sometimes what we see is just the tip of what is truly there. May we all experience the freedom of impermanence and cherish ourselves and each other in whatever body we find ourselves for we are all so much more! So Much More! This morning Bob, my friend and teacher, reminded me that the “more” is boundless. _________________