Now in my 75th year, I finally got myself into spiritual direction. Or just as likely, it’s gotten itself into me. Even that modest move required overcoming of a long-standing preference to manage my spiritual journey without needing outside assistance. Then one of the first problems to arise was the recurrence of a long-standing difficulty with meditation, namely that I couldn’t sustain the silent centering and breathing for more than 2 or 3 minutes before the brain teased and pestered me back into thoughts and schedules. After a week or two of this roadblock, I began to recall that when I’ve shared a silence with others—on retreat or in a small group—I could comfortably deepen into the silence for longer stretches of time without giving in to the distractions. Not having such a group at hand, I hit on a practice that’s helping the meditation problem but bringing other benefits as well. I’ve been calling that practice my “Virtual Meditation Group.”Continue Reading
Archives for June 2012
“You’re a pig. Don’t take that personally.” He tried to warn her that it wasn’t a physical likeness to which he was referring.
I have a friend that has the self-proclaimed gift of recognizing people’s “spiritual animal twins.” In relatively short time, he can sense someone’s nature and pair it with an animal. It’s rather remarkable. He calls someone a Meer cat and you think to yourself, “She’s totally a Meer cat.” He says to someone else, “You’re an alligator,” and now you understand why he always has his soul out sunning itself on the sawgrass.
According to my friend, I’m a land turtle. It’s probably the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me. And, yes, people have said nice things before. “You’re steady.” I’ll take it. I pick up my shell and move on…slowly.Continue Reading
Sometimes when the Givers of Dreams want to make sure I get it, they don’t create story lines or images; nothing radiant, troubling or obscure to be left to my interpretation. They give me a word, a phrase or a sentence. Straight up. Several weeks ago it was this: Let the Practice Carry You. I heard it, and I also saw it in capital letters, for emphasis. As I emerged into waking, an image arrived: ‘Practice’ was a boat on a river, something to carry me down stream. I needed only to get on board. If I wandered off onto shore, I needed only to retrieve the boat from the bank and get back on the river.
Hours later, I was getting in my car with a cup of coffee from the local convenient store. Turning the radio on, I heard another sentence, “Don’t Try to Be Great,” (also in capital letters, for emphasis, I was sure.) A man was talking about wisdom that graduation speakers bestow upon their college graduates. It all came in a moment. Don’t Try to Be Great and Let the Practice Carry You both gathered in a second that stretched out far and wide, one of those moments of infinite stillness where linear time becomes fiction.Continue Reading
When Patricia asked me if I’d be willing to write a guest blog, I was honored and also a bit daunted. I didn’t quite know where to start, or how to follow her beautifully laid path. She suggested that I might write about my work as spiritual practice, and possibly share an excerpt from my newly written book Find the Medicine: How Theater of Witness Reveals Stories of Suffering, Transformation and Peace. So I offer the Prelude of the book and some subsequent thoughts:
I am crouching in the wings of the theater watching the performance of Children of Cambodia/Children of War. From the side angle I see Hong Peach’s graceful silhouette balance as she perches on her right leg and her hands glide through the air in slow motion. Her fingers touch and trace invisible lines in the soft blue light. Her beauty is pure and lingers like perfume. Then with a boisterous shout, the Cambodian teen boys bound through the space, cajoling each other as they flip and jump over higher and higher ropes before collapsing into a pile of limbs on the floor, laughing before one turns serious:Continue Reading