Thursday, September 23, 2021

ONLY

This only for the sake of this.

Now only for the sake of now.

Here only for the sake of being here.

What an incredible liberation.

For most of my years everything I planned, thought about, did, achieved was always for the sake of something else.

Education was for the sake of what I would do with it later, when I was finished with school.

Working was for the sake of what I would do with the money, especially after work, on weekends, and on vacation.

Time was generally spent dedicated to ensuring that one day I would have more time to do what I really wanted.

Relationships were largely for the way they made me feel when they were going well. Otherwise, they were for the sake of fixing the way I didn’t like feeling. You were a way of achieving a perceived inner rightness. Unless you made me feel wrong. Relating was indirectly a means to an end. When I didn’t like the relating the interacting would end.

Youth was spent wishing I was older. I perceived that being older meant I would get to do what I wanted. Being older meant freedom.

Being older began at least by wishing I was younger so that I had the stamina and energy to use the freedom I finally obtained by indeed becoming older.

Then I saw how much of my life had really been a means to an end.

And I wept.

The weeping was not to get or be or do something else. I didn’t weep as a prerequisite for some other experience. It was a raw kind of weeping simply for the sake of weeping. Simply for the experience of allowing the tears to clear my eyes and mind of the compulsion to live for “when, then.” Weeping to wash away any notion that there was a better moment than just this moment. That there was a better place to be than actually being here. That there was something better to be doing than what I am doing now. Weeping not for a purpose. Yet in simply allowing the tears a purpose was in fact fulfilled.

I realized my life is not a means to an end.

I also realized my spirit-life was not a process of fixing what was broken. I found that I will never be more spiritual than I am right now. That realization allowed me to really experience it.

I realized awakening was not about changing what I am or how I am wired, programmed, conditioned. I realized that awakening is really just knowing all of those things and being absolutely, completely, unconditionally okay with myself just as I am.

Now.

Not when this happens or that gets fixed or I have more time, money, friends, education, awakening. Not when I am somewhere else with someone else being something different than I currently am.

Now this.

As is.

This only for the sake of this.

Now only for the sake of now.

Here only for the sake of here.

Writing these words only for the sake of writing these words.

My life has radically simplified with the editing of one two letter word.

I have moved from living in “if only.”

To “only.”

No longer if.

Only.

Only.

I am free.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

GONE TOO SOON

She is gone too soon.

In saying that I also recognize that I may be attempting to write this too soon.

My friend Bonnie died Saturday evening.

I seek not to soften that reality by using words such as passed, crossed over, or transitioned.

My friend Bonnie died Saturday evening and she died too soon.

She is gone too soon.

I seek not to soften the raw reality of the too soon experience with spiritual by-passes and lofty ideals.

I know that in the Absolute the Essence of the person I knew has gone back into the quantum and lives on as eternal Spirit. I do not need to be reminded of that by those unable to sit with me in this devastating loss. I know that the spirit goes on. I know that at a level the spirit is still here. It is not the spirit that I grieve. It is the person. The spirit is here yet the person, the friend, the wondrous human that was Bonnie is now gone. And it is the person, the friend, the wondrous human that I am just beginning to grieve.

The person, the friend, the wondrous human is gone too soon.

Too damn soon.

My friend Bonnie was really and truly one of a kind. She was a complete original. As authentic as anyone I have ever known. She was real. Really real. Refreshingly real. Probably for some unnervingly real. You did not have to wonder how she felt about something. No pretense. Upfront. Right there. Caring yet unflinching. Tender yet appropriately tough. If it needed to be called out Bonnie called it out. She was all about right and wrong. Not that she decided those factors for others. But what she saw as right and what she saw as wrong she spoke to. Especially in regard to inequality and injustice. Bonnie had a well-defined sense of justice, and she devoted her life to defending and serving what she saw as just. What she saw as equal. What she saw as humane and true. And she did not stop at speaking about it. She put her time, her resource, her energy, and passion into it. Her words and her actions were congruent.

Bonnie was brilliantly smart. Wickedly funny. Fierce. Loyal. Loving. Caring. Compassionate. Honest. Fiery. Faithful. Forgiving.

Forgiving.

The realness of Bonnie was what made her so available to forgiveness. She did not pretend that things were alright when she clearly did not think that they were. She spoke out. She often spoke up to speak out louder until she knew that she was heard. She allowed the fire in her to rise and to flame, and then she let that fire be the light that led her into the avenues of forgiveness and mercy. Bonnie was not afraid to get messy. To be messy. To splash around in the messiness. To invite others into the messiness for the sake of inner clarity. Even when she doggedly thought she was right she was willing to be wrong. It was not ambiguity. It was an assertiveness and bravery to pursue what was true whatever the cost.

Talented, passionate. Articulate and adventurous. Generous and giving. My God, Bonnie was generous in every, every way.

Bonnie was incredibly strong in spirit. And Bonnie was often weak within the flesh. While her health might have slowed her down it never stopped her for long. She would rise again, pursuing her passions and embodying her values. When others would have given up Bonnie chose to give even more.

I write these words with as much clarity and conviction as I have ever put into words: The world is a better place because Bonnie lived.

The world is a better place because Bonnie lived.

Lived.

And my friend Bonnie no longer physically lives.

She is gone too soon.

For all my years of meta-physical knowing I am personally not ready for Bonnie to be gone.

I risk speaking this raw yet relevant truth in a public forum: my heart wants her back.

She is gone too soon, and I want her back.

That is what is true in my heart today.

A mutual friend told me that she was not done with Bonnie. I so get that. I will never be done with Bonnie. Never.

It is too soon for platitudes so please spare me those.

I am sure of a few things in this oh so early stage of engulfing grief:

My friend Bonnie has died, and she is gone too soon.

The world is a better place because my friend Bonnie has lived.

I am a better person because my friend Bonnie was indeed my friend.

I already see ways in which I can be a living memorial to her memory. I can be more authentic, real, compassionate, caring, uncompromising, fiery, feisty, bold, generous, outspoken. I can amp up my game for a more equal and just world. I can go even more deeply into the muddy messiness for the sake of uncovering the something greater.

Bonnie is gone too soon. Yet she lives on and forever in all she gave during the relatively brief tenure of her years. She lives on in the countless people she helped and served. She lives on in her brilliant and accomplished sons. She lives on in her equally incredible husband. The impact she and they have made humbles and inspires me. I love her. I love them. I will always love her. That will never become past tense.

I love you, Bonnie, and you are gone too soon.

Though she was a much better writer than I, I also know she is watching with love as I tearfully fumble with these words. It was, indeed, too soon to write. Yet I needed to begin to express the cascading feelings that are pulsating through me. I needed to say out loud:

She is gone too soon.

I will forever love you, Bonnie.

Forever.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

SPECIAL EDITION: TURN ON YOUR TV

“Turn on your TV.”

I can hear and feel the words as clearly today as I did those twenty years ago.

I remember it as a stunningly beautiful Tuesday morning.

I recall an especially deep, beautiful, profound extended practice.

I remember seeing the rhythmic flashing of my voicemail indicator and literally thinking to myself that whatever this message says I get to meet it from a spacious and freshly awakened place.

“Turn on your TV.”

I fumbled for the TV remote at the same time as I hit redial on my telephone. If there is onea gap in my memory of that September morning experience it is as to whether I heard my friends voice first or whether it was the horrific images I saw. They seemed to and perhaps they did happend simultaneously.

We spoke very few words. We did not need to. I could hear and feel his breathing as if it were my own. To this day I know in fact it was my own. For all of the stunning and traumatizing images we would see it is the shared breath that I so clearly remember. It was the connection of that shared breath that was my sustaining force and stability as I watched our world forever change.

Three ways calling allowed the gathering of we two to become the communion of we three. The shared breathing and almost wordless spaciousness will forever be the context from which I experienced and remember September 11, 2001.

I had no sense of time as we breathed together and allowed the breath to be our prayer. An indescribable gasp from one of us escaped as the first tower began to rumble down to the ground. Was it me who gasped? Was it her? Him? It felt as if it were the gasp of humanity. I believe it was.

“Turn on your TV.”

How could such a perfect, splendid morning have devolved into this? How did my always highly tuned energy system not perceive that something so dastardly was happening until I heard those words:

“Turn on the TV.”

We three prayed our way through the falling of the first tower. Prayed our way through the collapsing of the second. We prayed wordlessly through image after unspeakable image. Replay after remarkable replay. Commentary after narrative after speculation after prognostication. Words, words, words coming out of that TV.

I do not remember how much time elapsed before I quietly yet resolutely said that we must call our community together and share in a collective energy of prayer. I knew that we must face this together as a faith community. I knew that we much turn off the TV and turn on the shared prayer.

As my then Interfaith community was meeting in a private high school we were asked to wait until the parents of the students had collected their children before we met at the facility. By 3:00 that afternoon we were gathered in a circle of sharing, praying, crying, communion. I still feel the rolling dynamics of that time together. I still feel the power of the connection. The heightened emotional intensity, and also the amplified vibrational luminosity. There was an unmistakable triggering of trauma. There was a floundering in how to meet that. What to do with that. How to meet each other in that. And there was a level of support and compassion that we had never had to call upon before. We had never needed each other that much. We had never needed shared prayer that much. We had never needed community that much.

I knew before reaching home from that communal experience that the almost perfect contemplative morning I enjoyed was the context I would need to meet what was going to occur. I needed to be centered, strong, stable to be able to prayerfully lead the community that was in my charge. I would need increased stamina to draw people together in multiple arenas of prayer in my own and in the greater community. I needed to access an abundant Source of energy to do what I knew was mine to do, while also personally and intimately facing the devastation of what had occurred. I know I needed to find a balance between staying informed and saturating myself with replays of unspeakable evil and tragedy.

I met the events of September 11, 2001, within prayer.

I am meeting the twenty-year-old memories of September 11, 2001, within prayer.

While I know there will be much coverage and televising today of those historic images there is no voice within me advising me to turn the TV on. I do not feel called to replays and commentary.

There is, though, an internal voice that is leading me to keep the prayer energy flowing. I am praying with every memory. Praying with every Soul lost. Praying with every survivor. Every hero. Everyone affected by those images. I am hearing and feeling my every breath just as I did on that day.

I have been blessed to visit that hallowed ground that became known as Ground Zero. I have seen the one tower built to replace and I surmise redeem the two. I have prayed at the memorial site. I have read the names and I have cried my tears. I have heard countless times the echoing words of “turn on your TV.”

Today my television is off.

Today my memories are on.

Today my heart is open.

Today my prayer is vital and flowing.

I have grown strong enough since that fateful day to meet my experiences with a transcendent faith that is fueled my prayer. It is not that my faith may not waiver. It is that my faith always returns to center. I always breathe and I faithfully return to prayer. I know firsthand the power of sharing prayer. Especially but not limited to times of trauma and sorrow.

So, every time I see and hear the words “never forget” I know I never will. I will never forget those images. The suffering and the loss. The towers falling and the spirits rising. I will never forget how I chose to meet those events. With whom I chose to meet those events. What we contributed together as we met those events.

“Turn on your TV.”

Those words ushered in a whole new reality for me. And I, like our world, have never been the same.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

THIS IS IT

From my earliest recollections I knew this could not be it.

When I say I knew this could not be it the “it” I am referring to is the world I was being handed and interpreted by my then authority figures. Reality as it was being described and explained made no sense to me what-so-ever.

No sense what-so-ever.

I had a dream when I was six or seven that an Indian chief came and kidnapped me from my bed and carried me a long distance, laying me face down on a desert of very hot sand. Though I had been carried quite a distance I could faintly see the outline of my family in the direction from which I had been carried. It was more a revelation than it was a dream. I can still to this day feel every aspect of it. The huge hands around my waist. The sensation of the chief running and carrying me. The heat of the sand. The looking back. Way back.

I awoke with a start and with a deep knowing that I would never fit within my tribal system again.

And I never did or have.

I have had a similar sense of prayer and praying my entire life. I have always suspected that this could not be it. That the religious exercise that I was taught was as anemic as it was unfulfilling. And it was as ineffective as it was unfulfilling.

The ways of praying that I was taught as a child were left behind me when I was carried away to what I now know is a desert of greater possibility. The prayer of my tribal system was mental, bargaining, pleading, outlining, and downright arrogant. I was told inadvertently to describe my problems in detail to an up and out God, and then tell “him” how and when to fix them. I remember the sensation of squeezing shut both my hands and my eyes for greater emphasis. I also recall it feeling vague and vastly empty. The old praying “to-for” was dissonant from an early age.

I knew this could not be it.

That Indian chief carried me away to a place I now know I was born to dwell.

It was never about rejecting my “tribe.” I am clearer than ever that my family and culture were the perfect container for my Soul-unfoldment. I also know I needed to move far beyond yet in sight of those systems. The contrast was and remains highly useful. That includes the religious tradition I was born into. While I see and experience it in radically different ways at this point in my journey there is nothing adversarial in how I view it. I needed it then. I transcended it by including it. Archetypically it is still highly useful.

And I knew it could not be it.

I am grateful to report that while I discovered that there is indeed far more to life than what I was taught I do not reside in a fixed state that thinks I somehow now know. I am blessed to live within an openness regarding an ongoing evolution in perspective and in prayer. I remain curious and permeable. I do not fear the possibility that one night while asleep an Indian chief will once again pick me up and carry me further from the tribe and the culture that I now inhabit. I not only do not fear it. I welcome it.

Praying for me is no longer mental. It is void of bargaining, pleading, and outlining. If there is some sense of arrogance left, I am not aware of it.

Praying for me now is felt, intimate, uncontrolled, and vital. I have a far greater sense that prayer is happening in me than I do that I am somehow managing a process. I engage in praying by keeping my non-negotiable appointments with my “prayer-chair.” I drop into my heart. I breathe, I align, I attune, and I come into entrainment with the frequency of my Source. I not only do not tell “God” my problems or how I think they should be fixed. I do not tell “God” anything. I simply steep. I simmer. I let be.

I simply steep, simmer, and let be.

Nary a word. An indescribable state of expectancy. Variable yet also stable. I seek to change nothing about it or me. I simply show up and let prayer happen.

Vastly different from the prayers of my initial experience. Different, even blasphemous, I guess. Yet also deliciously intimate. Moving.

I guess you could say that long ago I got carried away. And it is still happening.

And while there remains room and openness to go deeper, I know that my Indian chief took me to where I was meant to be. Where I was meant to abide. Where I am meant to dwell.

There is finally a place within me that prays and knows beyond knowing that this is it.