Long Road to Compassion

by Mary Kay LeFevour

Shortly after meeting my wife Laura, 30 years ago, she told me the ultimate story of compassion where the Bodhisattva Quan Yin gives her arms and eyes to her dying father who had abused her throughout her life and had even ordered her beheading! I had recently received my Masters in Women Studies and my first thought was, “Wow, this Quan Yin needs to read some Mary Daly. She is one sister who desperately needs a consciousness raising group.” In 1987 I was an angry, fire-spitting feminist and if this was compassion, I wanted nothing to do with it.

Flash forward 24 years later to my first meeting with Ben, one of my new Clinical Pastoral Education classmates. We were sharing what our root religious traditions were and found we both had been raised Catholic. He told me quite frankly that he believed women and gays should never serve as priests in the Catholic Church and in fact he would leave the Church if that ever happened. I immediately thought, “Quan Yin, give me strength!”

***

A lot of life experience, seeking, and meditation has happened between my initial perception of Quan Yin as a dangerous role model for women and calling upon her to help me maintain compassion in the face of Ben’s fear and ignorance. Over time, I have come to love the beautiful ideal of the Bodhisattva who though they are able to reach nirvana, delays remaining in that transcendent state of freedom and continues to reincarnate out of compassion in order to help suffering beings reach their own enlightenment. I now keep a statue of Quan Yin on my altar to inspire me to strive towards the depth of compassion that the Bodhisattva embodies.

***

To my classmate Ben’s great delight, he found me an easy target for his sarcasm and sexism. In my mindless moments I take his bait and engage in fruitless debate about the patriarchal practices of the Catholic Church and in more mindful moments, I mentally roll my eyes and just smile. But I still found myself nowhere near the state of compassion as an expression of presence that does not hold attachment to outcomes. I just wanted Ben, as a weekly irritant in my life, to go away.

Laura watched my suffering and in her infinite compassion pulled out her Maharatnakuta Sutra and read this to me:

“Furthermore, there are four things that can cause a Bodhisattva to become a friend to all sentient beings:

  • To wear the great armor of patience
  • To benefit sentient beings without expecting any reward
  • Never to regress from great compassion; and
  • Never to forsake even those who often annoy and hurt”

Meditation on this sutra motivated me to keep trying to find compassion as I interacted with Ben.  I was committed to seeing through Ben’s persona of the sexist homophobe to his essential Self.

Over time I begin to see his other personas – the caring connector, the frightened boy who was continually criticized, and the Ben who yearned for warmth but was desperately afraid of appearing needy or vulnerable. I tried to hold all of his personas in my heart as Ben provoked me with his barbs. I wanted to see the enlightened being that lives beyond the personas. When Ben presents a case study (describing a recent pastoral visit) I give him positive feedback and would witness his warm connector persona appear.  At every positive comment, I see a relaxation in Ben’s shoulders and a shy smile. I feel his pleasure in being seen as the compassionate being he tries to be.

I begin to think there is a change in our relationship. That maybe my prayers to Quan Yin are being answered and Ben is softening around the edges and willing to show his essential Self. But I’m forgetting that true compassion has no expectation of outcomes and this lesson is brought home to me one Monday when after presenting my own case study that I felt was a successful spiritual care visit, Ben turns to me, smiles condescendingly as he says, “I found your pastoral visit to be….very superficial.”

Oy, Quan Yin, give me strength.

Christ on the Cushion

by Joe Nutini

When I was a child, my parents sent me to Catholic schools. This was both a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because I received a wonderful, college preparatory education that did indeed prepare me to go to college. I loved college.  I also loved Christ. Like seriously. I was in love with Christ. From the time, I was quite young, I felt the energy of Christ deep within my heart. It was instantaneous. It didn’t require any understanding of doctrine, bible etc. It was just there.

I became a social worker. My education and the love that was in my heart because of knowing the energy of Christ (and perhaps even angels and other “heavenly” beings) led me to that path. Buddhism increased my awareness of Christ. It brought me back to Christ’s energy and love. It also brought me back to myself, to my own heart and to forgiveness.

That’s where I am right now. To get there, though, was quite the journey. The curse of being in the Catholic school, was that as I got older, conservative and literalist doctrine began to enter my soul as a poison. I will add this caveat before I continue. I understand that for some people, conservative and literalist doctrine and biblical interpretation is what “Saves” them. That wasn’t my experience. Though I respect that it is for some.

When I was quite young, I also remembered feeling like I should have been born a boy. I literally thought that my body would look like my fathers and not my mothers. Somewhere in early childhood, I also learned not to say that I felt like a boy. I just knew it was a “Sin” per the powers that be. Just like I knew that two men kissing was supposed to be “sinful”. I kept it to myself. A secret. Mom and Dad told me I was a girl, so I decided to be one.

As time went on, I became a pro at religion class. I always had an A in that class. I was fascinated by it because I had intrinsically known spirit since the time I was young. I wanted people to explain things to me. I wanted to try to understand what was happening. Sometimes, I would argue or debate with the teacher. I didn’t believe all the stories. I didn’t believe that Adam and Eve were the only humans and they populated the earth. I didn’t necessarily believe that Jesus had to die on a cross. It just didn’t really fit for me. And so, I wanted to learn more. To see what I was missing.

I received confirmation when I “came of age” as a teenager. I believed in Christ and what I felt was a certain spirituality to the universe. I also didn’t want to go to hell, if I’m being honest. Back then I wasn’t sure if there was a hell or not but the adults kept saying there was. I wanted to do the right thing by this energy that was with me through all the troubles that I felt. I wanted to make Christ happy. I did what the church told me to do. It was a beautiful ceremony and we had a party.

At this time, I also became aware of my queer (at that time we said bisexual) feelings. I had been in puberty early and it felt like torture. I didn’t understand why my body was betraying my spirit and mind. I kept it to myself. I prayed for these feelings to go away. It was a sin. The more I did this, the further and further away Christ felt. That energy, that love, that guiding force in my life started to slip away. In hindsight, I realized I had been betraying myself. When I was 13-14, I didn’t know better.

When I was a senior in high school, my best friend and I wrote a feature edition of our school paper on LGBTQ youth. The religion teachers let us give a survey out on sexuality and gender identity. Right before we were going to print, I was called to the “brothers’” offices. They basically said that, “this issue doesn’t exist here.” They meant that there were no LGBTQ people. I told them that wasn’t true. That I was bisexual. IT just fell out of my mouth. It was the most freeing thing in the world. I felt my heart fill with that energy and love again, for a moment. I was told that I was confused, wrong and that if I engaged in “homosexual acts” I could be excommunicated from the church.

It felt like poison. Every fiber of my being rejected their words. I decided to no longer be Catholic.

In college, I began reading about every religion and spiritual belief that I could find. That included new age spirituality and Buddhism. I wanted to find out what was going on. I couldn’t believe that the God they taught me about in school was the same God who created me. Absolutely not. I figured that maybe I was wrong. That there was no Christ energy or holy spirit. So, I studied, I attended various religious and spiritual services and I began meditation.

During those years, I was a mess until I began transitioning. Even after coming out as queer, I still felt so distant from that love I had known as a child and young teen. It felt miles away. Something that was unattainable. When I came out, it felt slightly closer. When I transitioned, my life changed. I meditated and chanted in Buddhist and Hindu traditions. I attended healing arts school where this was solidified. I was invited into some native American spaces to learn their teachings.

Yet something was still missing. I could feel that I was in touch with the love of the universe again. And yet, that Christ energy was missing. It felt like an emptiness. So, I began exploring Christianity once more. I spoke with literalists who debated with me, stating that I didn’t understand the scripture or bible. So, I studied it with them, pointing out linguistic differences from my studies in college, debating meaning and syntax. I hung out with Unity and Unitarian Universalists who helped me understand and heal from some of my experiences. I met people from the United Church of Christ who explained their understanding of Christ. I met liberation theologians who, like the UUs and UCC folks, made the most sense to me intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

And then I found Shambhala Buddhism. I read the book, Shambhala, the Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa, the person who brought this form of Buddhism to the US. He was literally saying everything that I had thought and felt for many years. I viewed a talk about “Jesus as Bodhisattva”, a concept that I had read about before but didn’t quite understand as well before.

So, I decided to take Shambhala classes. I distinctly remember sitting in the first class. We meditated for hours. I couldn’t shake this feeling that it was I who had been blocking myself from fully feeling the world. I had internalized these poisonous messages that I had heard for a good portion of my life.

I breathed in, when I breathed out, I found Christ again. It was a distinct feeling, so hard to describe. Like putting the last piece into a puzzle and being on fire at the same time. The intensity of it lasted for a moment then dissipated. A chunk of the poison left me and in its place, was this gentle love. A love that came from both within me and outside of me.

Today, I continue to work on undoing these teachings that kept me so far away from this Universal love, the love of Christ, and the love or Buddha nature within. I personally believe these are also complexly intertwined and simultaneously always available to me. I still learning, debating, meditating, praying and learning. I often wonder if these things happened for a reason…a journey to build empathy, love and relationship with others.

Skateboarding As Prayer, Meditation

by Greg Gonzales

My skateboard started to wobble, the axles twitching right and left on a whim all their own. I was still rolling forward at speed downhill, but the board got so squirrely I had to jump off and land in a run to catch my fall — and failed, miserably. As my right foot hit the ground, the force and speed shot the foot backward and sent my shoe flying off behind me. Then I tried to catch myself with my left foot, with identical results. I managed to plant my feet two more times, sock-bare, in a half-second period before I fell to my hands and knees, sliding five or so feet across the asphalt. At least, the locations and lengths of dangling flesh would have suggested so.

Because of experiences like that, skateboarding has become my favorite way to pray, to learn and connect. As a pantheist, I believe God and the universe are one in the same, and that by being alive in the universe, we’re part of God, experiencing itself, suffering and pain included. So my prayer is one of participation, of celebration as a participant of the divine whole. Plus, skateboarding comes with a lot of harsh-learned lessons I won’t soon forget.

Zen Master Dogen pointed out in his metaphysics that all things are Buddha-nature, or impermanent. The living and inanimate are all expressions of this nature, one of impermanence and change. Mountains and bodies of water transform over time, eroding and flooding and widening or shrinking with the earth and weather. The wood shavings and dust that grind off the tail of my board when I pop it, and it drags briefly across grains of rough concrete, are a testament to Buddha-nature in my daily life. Though it retains a familiar feel under my feet, my skateboard is never the same from one second to the next. The scars and scabs on my body speak the same truth. All things change, and my skateboard reminds me I can’t escape that. We have to let go.

Part of skateboarding is letting go and pushing forward through chaos. Falling hurts like hell, but no one masters 4-foot airs and McTwists their first try. A single trick might take six hours to land the first time, or several sessions of six hours over the course of several months. To get a new trick, I have to figure out each individual mechanic, each moving part, and put them together in physical harmony, while working through exhaustion, frustration, bruises, and soreness. At the same time, I have to learn how to fall efficiently so I can get up faster and hurt myself less. I let go of my safety and of my usual conscious mind to focus on a single moment, and that’s where the prayer is.

A skateboard trick and a Buddhist meditation have more in common than someone might think, certainly in terms of focus. Walking meditation in Buddhism is a meditation of action, one in which the method involves observing the world directly, in the midst of bustling daily life. The meditator feels how the foot gives in to the shape of a stone below it, the motion of the leg as it swings, how the arch of the foot grips the stone from heel to toe, and how the bones and tendons move together to transfer weight to propel the body forward. The meditator becomes aware of each movement, each tendon pull, how each moment gives in to the next without skipping a beat. Now imagine the mechanics of an ollie: The skater is crouched, body curled up like a spring, waiting to release its energy; one foot has toes pressed on the edge of the tail, and the other foot sits near the middle of the board, weight also on the toes. Once the trick begins, the skater transfers force from the hip, through tendons in the thigh to those in the calf and ankle, then the foot and toes — at the same time lifting the opposite foot up, to push the tail into the ground and pop the nose of the board into the air. The raised foot then slides across the griptape on top of the board to meet the nose, while the leg of the lower foot is brought upward; as the front foot meets the nose and the back foot jumps from the ground, the entire board is brought to level in mid-air, along with the skater’s body. This simple jump-see-saw motion gives me a chance to watch myself fly, to break mental boundaries, to observe my body in alien motion, to connect with the physical beyond basic experience. Both the walking meditation and ollie tell us about the infinite complexity contained in each and every moment, so long as we pay attention, and this paragraph hardly touches the long list of details to notice.

Skateboarding turns pure-function and visual environments into artistic ones by repurposing objects. Where most people see a curb painted red and thinks not to park there, a skateboarder sees a red curb and thinks about the slickness of that particular paint, and how easy it is to grind across it. Some people might see a tree trunk that’s split and grown into separate trunks, forking off, and give it a quick half-thought before their knowledge of the tree fades. Skateboarders see that tree, and then wonder if they can jump between the trunks; they check to see if there’s enough room behind the tree to get speed, enough space to land on the other side, and if there’s a good angle nearby for a filmer to capture the trick. In skateboarding, a “nice-looking” corporate plaza or a wash behind Fry’s becomes a place to jump, stomp, flip, scoop, and generally dance — on ledges, rails, steps and stairs, embankments, hubbas, gaps, planters… skateboarding adds to these dead objects a layer of life, a second layer of meaning and possibility in mundane, cold, boring places.

The latest discoveries in quantum theory suggest particles behave differently when we observe them. If that’s true, then each and every particle within every object interacts with us on fundamental levels. Even though I’m not quite sure what that entails, exactly — I’m no physicist — it seems to make for good evidence that all things are inextricably connected. As we interact with our environment, our environment interacts with us, and we get to participate as individual parts of it.

With that in mind, we could say just about any activity can be prayer, so long as it’s an intentional attempt to communicate with a divine realm or power or being or presence — our prayer just depends on what or who or where we think the divine is. If it’s right in front of us, then interacting with our immediate world in any way could be effective. Skateboarding is my way, or my dance, to celebrate that interaction. Some people bow their heads and utter a thank you, some chant, some offer animal sacrifice. I skate.

What Is Suffering?

by MK LeFevour

The nurse sticks me four times before she finds a vein in my hand to start the IV drip.  It takes 30 minutes for enough saline to get into my system so they can hook up a bag of leucovorin.  Another 45 minutes later the nurse comes back to start the part I hate the most called “the push”.   A hypodermic of 5FU is attached to my IV and the nurse literally pushes the chemical into the line.  It only takes a minute but each second feels like an hour.  I keep a close eye on the progress of the leucovorin left in the bag because the second my IV stops dripping I can get hell out of the cancer center and go home.  Only 2 hours pass during a chemo session but it is an eternity of suffering for me.

Recently I read a story about the great philosopher Krishnamurti that blew my mind. One day during a lecture, Krishnamurti asked his audience if they wanted to know his secret to happiness.  Of course they did!  They leaned forward in anticipation of his answer.  He proceeded to tell them – “My secret to happiness is I don’t mind what happens.”  How can anyone have that kind of equanimity to be able to say “I don’t mind what happens.”  If I had heard this secret to happiness while in the chemo chair, I would have cursed Krishnamurti quite roundly.  

So, here we have two beings on opposite ends of the human spectrum – Krishnamurti who has achieved the ultimate equanimity that he doesn’t mind what happens to him and me watching the minutes count down until I’m released from the IV and my suffering.  How can anyone achieve Krishnamurti’s level of being so solidly present in each moment that nothing moves him out of that moment – that he doesn’t mind what happens to him.

The Buddha gave us a path to getting from me suffering in the chemo pod to Krishnamurti’s equanimity by understanding the root cause of suffering.  Suffering is a result of a monkey mind where we can’t accept what happens to us—we mind very much what other people say, how much money we lost in the stock market, the pain in our bodies. It’s almost inconceivable to think that we might live in a way where these things didn’t rattle us—make us suffer. Within the Eightfold Path, Buddha’s guide to enlightenment, He describes how to practice vipassana or insight meditation — a powerful tool to help release us from this continual round of suffering.  Vipassana is meant to help us tame our minds so that we can stay centered in the Now, to be open and nonjudgmental – to step off the roller coaster of up-down, good-bad, like-dislike.  It’s not that we can eliminate life’s pain – physical or emotional but we can stop adding to the suffering by how we react to that pain.

In one of her dharma talks, the great Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön describes those moments that trigger our suffering with the Tibetan word “shenpa.”  She describes shenpa as the hook that triggers our habitual tendency to close down when confronted with discomfort.  When shenpa hooks us we begin to tense and tighten and feel a sense of withdrawing, not wanting to be where we are.  But resisting the present moment and what it brings only amplifies our suffering.  If we can watch what is happening and not judge it, not analyze it, not push it away nor hold it close, we begin to release ourselves from the suffering that aversion or grasping brings.  We may not be able to avoid discomfort, physical pain or challenging events, but we can control how we react and in that there is equanimity or the release from suffering brought by wanting a different present moment.

Previously I’ve described my inner hell of sitting in the chemo chair but let me describe that scene from another (equally valid) point of view – There’s me in a comfy reclining chair with my beloved wife sitting next to me, tucking me in with a blanket crocheted by loving volunteers, while nurses like Gina and Carla come by to hug me, give me heat packs for my hands, and tell me the latest jokes they’ve heard.  Within easy reach on the counter of the nurses’ station are chocolates, bagels, popcorn and other snacks brought in by patients who want to soften the experience for others while they sit through chemo.  In my lap is a DVD player with episodes of “Sports Night” to make the time fly.  So where’s the suffering here?  Only in my mind!  Other than the IV needle being put into my hand, there is no physical pain.  The entirety of my suffering is self-manufactured.  For me, chemotherapy was my shenpa – the hook that closed me down to What Is.  At the few times when I wasn’t inwardly focused on my suffering, I could look around at my chemo companions in their recliners and see one deeply ensconced in a book, one taking a nap, a woman knitting despite the IV in her hand or another surrounded by friends laughing while eating take-out.  I would wonder at their ability to use this time as respite instead of time to be endured or suffered through.

Chemo ended for me six years ago, but what I learned about suffering has been a continual gift. The more I practice vipassana, the more I catch the moment when shenpa is waiting for me to take its bait. In those moments I can choose to amplify my suffering by resisting “What Is” or I can lessen suffering by simply being in the present moment – abiding in whatever reality brings.

I hope to the gods and goddesses that I never sit in a chemo chair again, but if cancer does come back, I’m counting on my practice of vipassana to not let shenpa hook me and instead of taking shenpa’s bait, I’ll take a chocolate from the nurse’s station, grab my wife’s hand, and enjoy the next two hours by simply being in the present moment.

Sitting in the Simple Gratitude

by Amanda Petersen

Gratitude does not need to be complicated. In fact, practicing gratitude for the simple things actually helps one simplify their life. Acknowledging something simple, like breathing, can heighten one’s awareness of the places where things get complicated. This is especially true for one’s spiritual practices. As beautiful as a practice can be, it can become complicated very easily. Prayer lists can grow very long. The sense of ritual can take over. Certain positions or postures, times, and order can complicate to a point where heart of the practice can be lost. Coming back to the heart of a practice with gratitude is a very powerful spiritual practice. Beginning the prayer list, reading, examen, meditation, or physical practice with gratitude for the heart or why of the practice can shift the whole experience.

One of the main points I like to bring forth in meditation is the most important part of this practice: the fact that everyone there chose to come and sit. It is the act of sitting in my opinion that is the important. Whether the mind clears, or one stays with their breath or mantra, or one leaves feeling peaceful or enlightened, there is a nice benefit, yet the real power in the practice is the choice to sit. I believe that because we choose to sit, and step out of the norm or complications of life, the world is literally a different place when we leave. Beginning with gratitude, appreciation  and acknowledging the Source of one’s life changes the practice from one of doing the practice to one of being with the practice.

Beginning a spiritual practice with gratitude takes the focus off of the doing and moves us into the participation and relationship with God/Love/Divine. That is a wonderful place to dwell. It helps one come back to noticing, savoring and to the gift of Life. I encourage you to begin your spiritual practices grateful for the gift of showing up, sitting down, using time, or just breathing. See if you notice anything different in your practice.

I’d like to end with a poem by Mary Oliver from her book A Thousand Mornings:

Poem of the One World

This morning
the beautiful white heron
was floating along above the water

and then into the sky of
this one world
we all belong to

where everything
sooner or later
is part of everything else

which thought made me feel
for a while
quite beautiful myself.

The simple act of gratitude can change the world. A thank you to Diane Owens for the inspiration of this week’s writing.

Detangling

by Amanda Petersen

Recently we have been asking people to leave their cellphones in a basket while events are happening at Pathways of Grace. One of the side effects I had not anticipated has been the realization that when I am not thinking about activity on my phone I become aware of the all the other “attachments” I have. It seems the phone is the first layer, yet there is a deeper layer under that.

The phone connects me to family, friends, work and schedules. With each text, email, and pull to social media, I easily connected to all of it. Yet when I leave my phone at home or in a basket at work, I notice those connections don’t end. My mind is spending a lot of time thinking about family, friends, work, and schedules without the phone. The only difference is that I don’t unconsciously and frequently connect and in so doing not really know how connected and powerful some of those connections are.  Without the phone, I notice that maybe I am spending too much time thinking about certain things and taking on more than I should. I also find that  rather than immediately connect, I can instead trust the person or situation to God and offer a prayer. In addition to all of that, I get to make a choice – to create some space between my thoughts and all the aspects of life. In doing this I engage the Divine on where my thoughts are being invited to go in a way that brings light and love.

Who knew that leaving a cell phone behind would be a type of contemplative meditative practice? I am very excited about some of the new opportunities happening at Pathways of Grace to take a breath and listen deeply to life. I invite you to have some phone unplug time and use it as a spiritual practice. Let me know what surprises you.

When the Mind Becomes Silent

by Amos Smith

When I was growing up in Virginia, there was a large open meadow up the hill from my childhood home. Even though most of the acreage in my neighborhood was well developed, the meadow was left wild. After I climbed over a dilapidated wood fence and made my way through a thick barrier of trees, tall green grass sprang, resembling an overgrown alpine meadow. At night, the sky above the meadow opened into the great expanse. The distinct stars illumined the darkness as though I was far from habitation. In the summer the fireflies added lights to the deep blue.

The meadow gave me the space I needed when my little house and family began to close in. As with all families, sometimes things got claustrophobic. At those times I headed out the back door and started the slow walk toward the meadow. When adolescent insecurities mounted and there was no outlet, I started the slow walk…

After I pried through the wall of trees I would walk several paces then lay back against the thick grass. At first my thoughts raced, as they had throughout the day. Then, slowly my thoughts settled like particles of dirt floating to the bottom of a glass of water. If I stayed there the water became still, all the dirt settled, and the murky water of my mind cleared. Space between thoughts lengthened. My breath slowed. And a homesickness I struggle to articulate softened.

I was only yards from home, yet I had another home akin to silence.

Primal Spirituality

by Karen Richter

I just read something in Spiritual Directors International’s journal about ‘primal spirituality.’ Not the spirituality of ancient humans, but the first spirituality: that way of approaching life that sets us off on a path of growth and contemplation.

When I look at my own life and think about where it all started, several memories and experiences come to mind:

  • As a teenager, visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and becoming committed to nonviolence.
  • As a college student, coming to terms with the suffering of my 3 year old cousin with brain cancer and the terrible lie that says people get what they deserve.
  • In young adulthood, considering the death of my grandparents and realizing that being healed is different from being cured.
  • During my 30s, realizing that the way I prayed had changed to reflect a different kind of vision for God.

These and many others were formative experiences, along with the slow growth pattern of living in the community of marriage and parenthood. But there’s a particular experience that is on my mind today, which was the primal experience for growing the spirituality of my life now.

I had a miscarriage after my second child. As these events go, it was early, uncomplicated, and ordinary. I healed quickly and moved on.

About 10 months later, I found myself staring at a positive pregnancy test again. I was understandably more reticent about sharing my news, a bit more circumspect about making plans and assumptions about the outcome. At around the 5 week mark, I began experiencing signs of miscarriage again. My doctor’s advice was just to wait it out until an ultrasound at 8 weeks could tell us more.

And that three weeks was simultaneously incredibly difficult and unexpectedly rewarding. Rather than assume the best or the worst, I took an in-the-moment approach to the waiting. This was my mantra during those days:

  • I am pregnant today and I am grateful.
  • No matter what happens tomorrow or the next day, week, or month, I am pregnant today and I am glad for that.
  • No outcome will change the gratitude I feel today.

My joy at the birth of my daughter later that year was all the much greater because of my gratitude practice.

Today, about 11 years later, I have more sophisticated words for this kind of approach to life. I might tell you about my spiritual life… how it’s important to me to live my life as if it were as a gift. I might explain that I have a comprehensive view about life, how good things and bad things happen but life itself is capital G “Good”.  I can talk with you about process theology and religious maturity all day long. Yet is comes down to a primal spirituality:

  • I am alive today and I am grateful.
  • Someday my experience on the earth will end and there’s no way to know what happens next, but today I am alive and thankful.

Meditation:

The days of a human life are like grass: they bloom like a wildflower; but when the wind blows through it, it’s gone; even the ground where it stood doesn’t remember it.* Yes, we are just as fleeting as a flowering weed but we bloom beautifully in our time. Amen.

*Psalm 103.15-16