An instrument of peace

“Lord, make me an instrument of peace.”

With that single line St Francis defined a life of mindfulness and loving kindness long before those terms were first used. Long before pop culture turned them into an industry. A t-shirt slogan.

He goes on to describe how that instrument looks. It is one of understanding and giving. A life in service of love.

“Lord make me an instrument of peace

Where there is hatred let me sow love

Where there is injury, pardon

Where there is doubt, faith

Where there is despair, hope

Where there is darkness, light

And where there is sadness, joy

Oh divine master grant that I may

not so much seek to be consoled as to console

to be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love

For it is in giving that we receive

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned

It is in dying that we are born to eternal life”

This is how I want my life to be yet I often fail in these intentions. Instead, I want to be understood. To be consoled. To wade deeply in my sorrow. To be loved despite my shortcomings.

When I find myself on the needy end of the spectrum that runs from giving to receiving I remember that I can not only offer these gifts to myself, I should.

My efforts to be an instrument of peace must begin with myself because to offer peace to others I must first have it within me. The good news is that inner peace is often gained in the offering of it to others. It is a beautiful, endless, self-sustaining circle.

This was my meditation this morning:

That I forgive myself and not beat myself up for being human.

That I keep strong the faith that brought me here.

That I keep the flame of hope ever burning within me to light both bright days and dark nights.

That I be willing to find and feed my joy, especially when it seems so far away.

That I love myself as I wish to be loved by others and that I share that love regardless of my pain.

That peace isn’t just something we feel, it’s something we practice.

I believe I need more practice.

Peace be upon you.

Melancholia

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Still as my breath
Slow as my step
Yet I wander
Lost in thoughts
That invade

A silent army
Of recollection
That tramples my peace
Despite the calm

I turn 54 today. My body turns 54, I’m not sure, cant be certain, how old my soul is. Surely, it is far older.

Today I feel the age.

I have pushed myself
Let myself go
Gave in to the ways
I put to the side
In favor of ways
Better

I thought they were better. Maybe they were just different. I do that sometimes; change ways simply because I know the way I was traveling was somehow wrong. Which doesn’t necessarily mean the new way is right. Just different.

My eyes in a glaze
Peer through the haze
Of what i thought was wrong to see right

Here I am. Full and alive. Willing. Capable. I see where I am going. Know each step. Know where they lead. Know.

Nothing
Not whether I will breathe another breath
Take another step
Type another word

I’m okay with that. Really, I am. I think it might be worse if I did know. I commit to the path I chose with faith.

Today I am 54. My body is, anyway.

My soul
Ripe fruit
Flowering vine
Thicket
Bramble
Branch
Leaf
That reaches for the light of the Divine
And breathes
Every second with joy
Ignites the heart
That lives within this withering shell
And maybe burns it a little
Like fragile paper
Left too long in the sun
Still
I breath
And still as my breath
My step
Slowed
My mind
Gathered
i look only to a future
Of my making
And smile

 

Happy birthday, James.

Here, Now

neptune.by.Justin.Morrison

Here
Now
Not in a way defined
by philosophy memorized
or recited
Not through some blind faith
in something
someone else
somewhere
said

I’ve forgotten
all I’ve read
Left behind
philosophy
religion
words read
lines memorized
to lay
Here
Now
in the Heart of Love
and the arms of my Beloved

True faith
and Hope
hold me
keep me in this place
where all that exists
is what I allow
and she
is the only influence
Here
Now

 


 

Image: “Neptune” by Justin Morrison

 

Shit Happens

shit.happens

There are basically only two Paths in life: Reactive and Proactive.

The Consequential Life is primarily an Unconscious Path. Shit happens and you instinctualy respond. How you respond dictates where the Path leads you. This is Reactive.

The Intentional Life is a Conscious Path. Shit happens and you choose your response. Other times shit happens because of your choices. Your intention and the choices you make that arise from your intent guide you on the Path. You guessed it, Proactive.

 

Either method is a choice. We either choose to be aware or we choose to go through life with eyes and mind closed.

Most people live a reactionary life. Here’s a few examples of living a reactionary life while on an unconscious path:

  1. A goat shits on your path. Step in in, rub it in your face, sleep in it, don’t wash it off. “Good things come to those who suffer.”
  2. A goat shits on your path. Make a shit sandwich and eat it in silent gratitude. “What good things?”
  3. A goat shits on your path. Its a sign! A goat has been here. Hang around and pray for its return so it can be sacrificed. “Good things come to those who wait.”
  4. A goat shits on your path. Its a sign! The path is unclean because you have sinned. “Sinners don’t get good things…until they die.”

I’ve known many people who suffered to the end and gained nothing. Known people who turn their backs on the good things in their lives because they can’t believe they either deserve them or that they exist at all. And I’ve never met a person who didn’t feed themselves…. something.

Personally, however, I prefer a proactive/conscious way of living:

When a goat shits on your path I say gather it up, mix it with sand and straw, and make bricks to smooth the path. Or mold menagerie from it, bake them in the sun, and give them as gifts. Or use it in a floral arrangement. Or turn it into incense.

There must be a million great things to do with goat shit and none of them have anything to do with moral causality or a reckoning of the scales.

What it comes down to is this; if you can’t find a good use for it, simply walk around it.

In the end, its a goat doing what a goat does. It shits. And shit happens.

Sacrifice to the wind

the.offerings.of.Cain.and.Abel.by.Duncan.Walker

There once was a man who wished to prove his love to his god, the god of wind.

He thought hard for many weeks. How could he, just a man, prove his worth to the mightiest of gods?

The wind doesn’t care if you eat or sleep. It doesn’t care if you cut wood or read books. Doesn’t care if you fast for weeks or pray for months or meditate for years

He sometimes even wished that his god was water. It would be easy to please the god of water, he could simply give up bathing.

But how could he show the wind that he was worthy?

Then it struck him one day as he watched a leaf, played with by his god as it fell to the ground, twist and turn. Lift and drop. Spin. Then finally touch down.

He could give up breathing!

It wouldn’t be easy but he convinced himself that he could do it. Surely the wind god would love him for sharing the limited wind with others. To not take the wind within and corrupt it. To not alter the breeze or the scents of the air with his own breath.

He practiced daily. At first he could hold his breath only seconds. Then minutes. With each day he could go longer and longer. But there was a problem, even though he got to the point where he could hold his breath for record breaking times there always came a point where darkness crept in and he passed out. When he awoke he would be panting. Gulping down the air like it were food.

He cried at the thought of the darkness invading his spirit. Possesing him. Taking him away from his god and making him consume even larger amounts than he normally would.

But he persisted.

Day after day he would hold his breath, pass out, then awaken and start over until, one day, finally, his persistence paid off.

He held his breath until the darkness tempted him with sleep but pushed it away.

He fought with the darkness for what seemed an eternity until, at the verge of giving up, a bright light dispersed the darkness.

He felt warmed by the light. He smiled and he cried. The darkness would not win.

As he moved into the light the first thing he noticed was that he felt the wind differently. Smelled it differently. He moved through it in a different way. And he was saddened by this and found himself wishing he had spent more time in the presence of his god while he had the chance. But the sadness gave way to a slow moving joy and soon the joy consumed him and he was no more.

A friend of the man’s who checked on him from time to time was there at the last moments and witnessed the smile on the man’s face emerge then, silently, fade.

With a deep sigh, he said a short prayer then turned and walked towards home. He felt comfort in the warm night breeze. As he thought of his friend, no longer able to enjoy the presence of the wind, he breathed deep. Deeper than he ever had before. He swung his arms as he walked so he could enjoy the wind even more. He blew at the leaves as they fell in an effort to keep them aloft longer and he sang songs as loudly as he could.

As he did these things a slow moving joy came over him and soon he was consumed by it as if becoming one with the wind and he was happy.

 


 

Image: “The offerings of Cain and Abel” by Duncan Walker

 

Balance

effervescent.by.Christina.Rivera.jpg

Today is the Autumn Equinox. Day and night are of equal length for a few days and then the days will become shorter.

It is the time of harvest. When we reap what we have sown and labored so hard to produce. It is a time of harmony and balance. When everything is exactly as it is supposed to be.

Seeing that balance isn’t always easy so I’m going to refer to the Oxford Dictionary to help:

bal·ance [ˈbaləns] NOUN
1. an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain 
upright and steady: 
"slipping in the mud but keeping their balance" ·
synonyms: stability · equilibrium · steadiness · footing

I appreciate the example they provide, “slipping in the mud but keeping their balance”. I can relate to that. It defines balance as tenuous yet firm. Precarious and cautionary but upright and steady.

Balance doesn’t mean sure footed. In fact, I am most likely to be seeking better footing when balance is even, but slip and slide aside, I remain upright.

Tonight I celebrate that balance and while I do it while physically alone, I do it forging ahead with plans to join my Beloved.

The past and future are even tonight and beginning tomorrow the days grow shorter and each shortened day brings me closer to her.

Whether you call this day Mabon, The Second Harvest, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Winter Finding, or, my personal favorite, Cornucopia, I wish that this Autumn Equinox finds you in harmony and balance with all that you do and that your own harvest is as rich as my own.

 


 

Image: “Effervescent” by Christina Rivera

Change

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Change is the only constant. Change happens. Which is just a nice way of saying shit happens. But change itself is neither “good” nor “bad”. It is simply change.

Sometimes that change is small, easy to deal with; a fender bender, a missed appointment. Other times it is larger and affects us in unforeseen ways; the work season, already too slow, comes to a sudden halt leaving us worried, possibly near panic, about how we will survive. Sitll other times it is dramatic, profound; our home is blown away in a hurricane so massive it clears the land, burned in a wildfire so out of control that the smoke covers 5 states.

Though change itself is often out of our hands, where those changes lead us is almost always up to us.

Do I give in to the panic? The rage? The fear? Do we rebuild our homes? These are choices. The choices lead to decisions. The decisions, if based on intentions of love and gratitude rather than fear and panic, can lead to unexpected new places. New lives. New love. All of them of our choosing.

It’s okay to be angry with the Universe for these things, She’s used to it. No one wants their home destroyed or to lose their job after barely scraping by, but it’s important to look beyond those events to the possibilities and opportunities they open. New choices. New paths.

I am leaving North Dakota soon. Change has opened new doors for me. Opened my heart and my mind to a new life. I’ll be damned if I sit here and worry about what I don’t have when what I can have is so much more.

Know that whatever change you are facing, we all face it at some level, all of us. In that simple knowledge you are assured that you are not alone. Know also that no matter how insurmountable that change may feel it is simply the Universe saying “I love you. Time for something new.”

What that something is, is entirely up to you.

This change will be good because I will make it good.