It all matters. That someone turns out the lamp, picks up the windblown wrapper, says hello to the invalid, pays at the unattended lot, listens to the repeated tale, folds the abandoned laundry, plays the game fairly, tells the story honestly, acknowledges help, gives credit, says good night, resists temptation, wipes the counter, waits at the yellow, makes the bed, tips the maid, remembers the illness, congratulates the victor, accepts the consequences, takes a stand, steps up, offers a hand, goes first, goes last, chooses the small portion, teaches the child, tends to the dying, comforts the grieving, removes the splinter, wipes the tear, directs the lost, touches the lonely, is the whole thing.
What is most beautiful is least acknowledged.
What is worth dying for is barely noticed.
~Laura McBride, We are Called To Rise
I have a lot on my mind today, and I am going to apologize in advance if I sound preachy. As you know, because I’ve mentioned it often enough, I spend a lot of time on my own out here in the Middle of Nowhere. Weeks will sometimes go by without me having had contact with any humans other than my husband and Faye The Mail Lady, and I might not see her if there are no packages to bring to the house. I have some contact through the internet as well, with all of you. It’s not face to face, but it’s contact and I’ve made some good friends this way.
Most of the time, I am okay with the alone-ness, and honestly, I don’t really feel alone. Nature keeps me company. Perhaps the Universe does, too, in some way. Every now and then, but not too often, I feel lonely, and I make it point to get out of here and plant myself among people, even if it’s with strangers at the grocery store or the farmers market or a restaurant or wherever I’m shopping. In between, we take trips to visit loved ones, family, and friends, or they come here, and more often than not I feel that is Enough. I am content. I am fortunate. I am blessed. And I am safe, or at least feel safe. Not everyone is as fortunate.
This morning during my meditation practiced, there were tears. That happens from time to time, and it is usually associated with something I’ve been ignoring or pushing down. Today I followed a guided meditation in which the mantra was about connecting to our human family by putting aside the things that divide us and recognizing how much we share. A “we are one” type of thing. The tears were… what? I don’t know. Heartbreak, maybe. Weariness with some of the ways of the world, maybe. Disappointment, anger, and outrage were in there, too.
I went for a walk after I finished my meditation and during my meander around the meadows and into the woods, I thought long and hard about things even though I kept trying to take advice from the leaves who were singing let go, let go, let go, and fly with the wind. Since the thoughts kept circling back around, I decided it was better to explore them and then, if I wished, I could release them to wherever it is thoughts go when we finish with them. (Sometimes that place is on my blog.)
In my search for some kind of spirituality in my life, I have studied several religions. I was raised in the Catholic faith, but lost that faith when I was teen. Christianity held no appeal for me at all for a long time, and I was almost hostile towards it in the same way I was hostile towards it as a teen. One day, I don’t really remember when, I grew up a little. I put aside my rebellious and childish attitude, and my feelings towards Christianity in general and the Catholic faith specifically began to mellow. I did not embrace the religion or go back to the church, but I began to recognize some of the better aspects of it. The examples and influence of good people helped me drop some of that hostility.
During my exploration of various religions, there were some I barely got to know because I could see immediately they were not for me. There were others I delved into deeper and even spent time thinking, “This is the path for me.” Then I discovered that those, too, were merely stepping stones to something else. However, my reason for moving on usually started with a whiff of exclusion from those who professed to be elders or somehow one of the higher ups (isn’t it weird how so many religions seem to have elders or higher ups or someone who claims to speak with authority?). I understand that people are people wherever you go. Some are good and loving, some are ignorant (in the sense of unknowing) and in their ignorance they are afraid. I get that. And I get that those who live from a place of fear are not always the best representatives of their faith or religion.
Ultimately, I have come to the conclusion that religion, for me (your mileage may vary), is a lot like greed in that it is often one of the roots of evil. A lot of terrible things have happened in the name of religion and God. A lot of good things have happened in those names as well, and it would be unfair and inaccurate not to acknowledge that.
In my ideal world, people would not need a religion to feel a place of belonging because we would all belong to each other. In my ideal world, humanity would suddenly drop all the dogma, drop all the cruelty that comes with an us vs. them mentality, and start practicing their faith from a place of love and compassion. Love and compassion would be the first rule. It would be above the gods or God, or if not above, equal with the gods or God people claim to worship.
But here’s the thing. Almost all religions have this ethic built in. It is known in some circles as The Golden Rule. And yet, from my perspective on the outside looking in, very few people who loudly and proudly claim to be religious actually practice that rule. Knowing that, I fear that there is little hope for humanity to stop seeing differences as a reason to create an other, to create an enemy, to create a person or group of people who are worth less (and worthless) because they practice a different or no religion.
Is it possible for enough of us to learn to love our fellow men, women, and children so deeply that violence becomes impossible as an answer? Or will we continue as we were and as we are, letting violence beget more violence?
In my ideal world, there would be a Revolution of Love, one that did not end in persecution or crucifixion or some other atrocity. In my ideal world, the politicians (if we must have them, and I suppose we must because somebody needs to take care of the day-to-day business of running things) would remember history and would not repeat it by insisting that those of one faith, a faith that is not the politician’s faith, register with the government because of a few bad apples in that faith’s barrel. Frankly, there are a few bad apple’s in everyone’s barrel. But it staggers the mind — or my mind, at least — that anyone could make a suggestion like that. Perhaps it is time to send some of our politicians back to school to learn about events that led to concentration camps, internments, and relocations.
Some of the Republican presidential candidates here in the U.S. have made some outrageous suggestions lately. Some have said they would allow in only Christian Syrian refugees. Jeb Bush, when asked how they would prove they are Christian, said it would be easy to tell so Stephen Colbert on his show last night suggested this: If you want to know if somebody is Christian, just ask them to complete this sentence: Jesus said, “I was hungry, you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you…” Then he said, “And if they don’t say ‘welcomed me in,’ they are either a terrorist, or they are running for president.”
Well, enough of that. My political leanings are not for everyone, and my fantasies of an ideal world are probably not for everyone, so this seems like a good place to stop. Perhaps I should have stopped sooner, and it’s possible I might by not posting this at all.
Thank you for stopping by, and if you read it all, thank you for your patience. I know this sounds like I have a rather pessimistic view of the world. I don’t. I know that for all the pain, sorrow, suffering, and ugliness, there is also joy, goodness, love, and beauty. I know that there are good people out there in the world doing good things, but they don’t get as much attention as the squeaky wheels who play on fear. I’ll return to my usual try-not-to-step-on-anyone’s-toes programming tomorrow with our coffee chat.
One last thing you might want to check out: Predicting the future. Google is experimenting with fortune telling. What does your future hold?
Be good, be kind, be loving, be well. Just Be. 🙂
Every belief we hold is a limited snapshot, a mental representation, not the full truth of reality itself. But some beliefs are more fear-based and injurious than others … we may believe that certain people are evil. We may believe we can’t trust anyone. We may believe that we are fundamentally flawed and can’t trust ourselves. These beliefs all arise from the primary fear-based belief that the Buddha identified: that we are separate from the rest of the world, vulnerable and alone. Whether our beliefs arouse self-loathing, trap us in self-destructive addictions, ensnare us in conflict with a partner, or send us to war with an enemy, we are suffering because we are mistaken about reality. Our beliefs narrow our attention and separate us from the living truth of how things are. They cut us off from the full aliveness, love, and awareness that is our source.” ~ Tara Brach, True Refuge