“Accept the other as yourself and welcome it home to your Heaven on Earth. This introduces your mirroring facility of relationship; where, when you honor the other, you honor your highest self.”

GURU SINGH

sign.JPG

Saturday Considerations

After days of crumbling nostalgia and seeming uncertainty, I have settled back into my own skin.

Bundled and hopeful, I shuffle downtown armed with my umbrella and the Feist. This weather/music combination always reminds me of London. A warmth pulses through me and I sigh in blissful comfort. The past feels like that sometimes. Like hugging an old friend. 

I leisurely wander in and out of overpriced boutiques, repeating  “I can make this” in my head as I inspect hand crafted cards, candles and prints. 

A call from my brother almost has me turn back and head for an afternoon of work on my computer. But a little spark in my soul advises me otherwise. I order a chai latte and sink into a plush, worn, green couch at a local coffee shop. My jeans are damp from my rendezvous in the rain. The warm chai floods down my throat and tingles all the way to my feet. I pour over Kerouac like  a college kid discovering freedom for the first time; in awe and inspired. Frantically highlighting and underlining phrases, inspired by his honesty and embarrassed by my own lack. Lack of creativity and adventure. Age does that to you. Like a coy thief, slowly replacing idealistic dreams with dull practicalities. 

Determined to not give in to complacency, I take off for the open paved suburban road …

nostalgia

Periodically, I am overcome with acute nostalgia for the glory days. Young, carefree and untouched by life’s harshness.

Life has a way of roughing the edges, taming the wild side.

Approaching 30 is a mental mindfuck. When you are in your early 20s, 30 seems like a distant forever. A threat that will never actually come to fruition. When I was 22 I made an agreement with a friend that if we were both unmarried at the washed up age of 30, we would take each other’s hand and marry the state. It appears time has come and I am left holding the bag.

When I was 22 I never thought I would care about things like marriage, mortgages and other dull formalities that plague adult conversations.

But time has a way of aging your face and your values.

At 29, I have succumbed to mild envy blended with resentment and topped with some wishful thinking. At 29, I wonder if my aging nana will be lucid to see me take that sacred covenant. I agonize over her declining memory. Will she be here to see her grandkids? Will she know them by name?

Longing for the glory days. When nothing was important and everyone mattered.

Election Reflection

As the world is in shock and grief over the election of Donald Trump as president, I find myself in a place of reflection and serenity.

Yes he is a misogynist, racist, xenophobic sociopath who is unfit to be in a position of power. Yes it is unfortunate and is an embarrassment to our county’s progress toward social and economic justice.

However, this is how a representative democracy works. It may result in slow and inefficient processes, but it is what allows for the peaceful transition power in our country. The alternative is anarchy, authoritarian regimes and theocracies. A consequence of this system is that yes, sometimes your team loses. It does not mean you abandon the system or attempt to discredit it’s legitimacy.

That’s life. Sometimes things do not go your way. It is a unique opportunity to showcase your character. How you respond in the face of adversity, how you react to perceived injustice.

In the early days of the church, followers of Christ were called atheists because they refused to worship Caesar as Lord. They claimed a poor Jewish rabbi, Jesus, was their Lord. This radical opposition was inherently political. Accused of treason and undermining the Roman authority, the early Christians dealt with many of the same moral conflicts we face today. These perennial queries of truth struggle to clarify the blurred lines of the sacred and the secular.

And what is Jesus’ response?

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17) 

We can take heart in the truth of His statements today. Instead of putting our hope in the hands of a flawed politician, keep your eyes on all that is true and right and honorable, that is Christ, who provides, and sustains. Live in the world and honor the laws of the world, but do not worship it.

Movers and Shakers

There are two types of people in this world.

The kind of people who see a problem and do something about it, and the kind of people that accept problems and keep to themselves.

I am a doer. A questioner. A thinker. A speaker. A mover. and yes, a shaker.

My mind is consumed with perennial philosophies, moral dilemmas and solutions to seemingly simple social issues (they are never simple). That ‘s just me. Always looking to improve myself and the world around me. Being this way, positions me in direct opposition to those who lack imagination and the spine to stand up for what is right.

This microfoundation rears it’s relentless little head in the mundane as well as the ideological. Just the other day I am walking to drop off donation requests for a nonprofit, when two young boys are walking in front of me. One maybe 11 and one maybe 8. They are kicking and playing with an empty bottle, when the older one decides to leave it in the middle of the sidewalk. Without skipping  a beat, I yell out

“are you going to leave that there?”

older boy: we found back there, it’s not ours. Someone else left it there.

me turning into my mom: “That’s okay, you have it now so throw it away”

He runs back and picks it up, when he catches up to me I gently pat him on the shoulder and say “there ya go, come on, you’ve got to set the example for the younger generation, show them what’s right”. He nods sheepishly and walks it over to the trash.

Maybe I am annoyingly nosey or maybe I am doing what we should all be doing, just using our voice and our presence to direct people towards operating at a higher level, towards stepping into a better version of themselves.

Additionally, a couch has been abandoned on the sidewalk in front of our law firm over a week and a half ago. Half the cushions are missing and it has been rained on for several days. Some of the neighbors are sitting on the back and arm of the couch now as they smoke cigarettes in their pajamas. They toss their used butts into the gutter and shuffle back inside. This is what is wrong with the world. People see a problem and find a way to use it for their benefit rather than so something to remedy it.

 

In a world of Donald Trumps and exploitive business practices, why not be different? Why not be someone who gives a shit? Why not be a mover and shaker?

The Cost of Principle

 

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
Mahatma Gandhi

As far back as my memory spans I have been consistently concerned with two fundamental ideals: truth and justice. These moral foundations dictate my relationships, diet, lifestyle and career. The dedication to which is a blessing and a curse. I am unable to remain silent in the face of injustice, no matter the breadth or depth. The burden of the messenger is a weight I have adapted to carrying. As Ghandi phrases, do the right thing, what comes of it is not your concern. 

How do I reconcile these principles with Christ’s declaration, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Rabbinical interpretation suggests that the yoke refers to the teachings of a Rabbi. Here, Jesus is inviting others to take after him, saying that his way, his teachings, are easy to follow. He invites us to embrace a life of grace and freedom, absent of judgement and despair.  Is it easy though?

In my studies, I have found the way or yoke of Christ to be quite radical. That is because the truth is radical and Christ was incapable of having a casual relationship with it. Jesus instructs his disciples not just to accept, but to love their enemies, to offer your left cheek if someone slaps your right…There’s a common saying that “it’s not a principle unless it costs you”.  And that is what being a person of truth entails. It costs you popularity, relationships, money, and positions. It also affords you knowledge of self, development of character, and an unwavering faith- all of which can never be taken from you.

 

The older I get the more intent I am about being assertive, not aggressive.  I have learned that people do not respond well to shame, and that guilt is a poor long term motivator. Compassion and grace are much better strategies in the ongoing pursuit of truth and justice.

 

The Guest House

Last week I had an unexpected visitor. He came without calling and overstayed his welcome. He was quietly destructive; didn’t make a sound but robbed me of all my valuables.

 

First He turned my lights off, leaving me covered in darkness.

Then He siphoned my energy- abandoned and defenseless, paralyzed on the floor.

 

Like a thief in the night, He made out of here with my most prized possessions

my hope

my strength

my vision

my humor

and my smile.

 

Depression is a thief. It is the darkest night in the middle of a storm. It’s the last flickering streetlight slowly buzzing to a fade.

 

A week’s passed and I’m laying in bed mesmerized by this quote from Rumi,

 

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.

meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

 

As I sit with the Lord and thank Him for this visitor, I can’t stop the tears from slowly trickling down my cheek, remembering Depression’s sting. Then I reread that last line,

Sent as a guide from beyond

and I’m laughing.

Crying and laughing with the Universe. Seeing myself as It does. In this play called Life. Grateful for the fullness, the depth of my character. So many parts I get to play.
Smiling, I wish my visitor well.

Until we meet again.

Brahmacarya | Moderation

brahmacharya-patanjalis-yoga-sutras_17Traditionally, Brahmacarya refers to celibacy and sexual energy. Today, we think of it as the right use of energy,  moderation, or non-excess. It’s literal translation means to “walk with God”.

Moderation is the intentional resistance of the culture of overindulgence. In things, in food, in booze, in relationships, and yes – in sex. Are you energized by food or obsessed with it? Do you enjoy a glass of wine or are you intoxicated by it? Do you shop out of necessity or impulse? When we examine these areas honestly, we become aware of our energy – where it goes, what consumes it and what rejuvenates it.

Brahmacarya is allows us to focus on our true desires. It’s that feeling of peace after letting go of an addiction, a craving, a closest full of stuff, a negative relationship or habit. Moderation creates room for calm, clear energy that we paint our best days with.

 

This moral restraint is about directing our energy and the mind inward, away from the external desires and pleasures that are always fleeting. Turning inward, we find true peace, joy and fulfillment. Turning inward, we find God.

Brahmacharya as ‘right use of energy’ leads us to consider how we actually use and direct our energy. And by doing so, we are led to freedom. True freedom from desire and dependencies.

Be awake to the senses, but not led by them. 

12188016_10153403267748172_6873808237184830164_o