This Too Shall Pass

Part One

A full sized garden trowel and a metallic bucket, replacing the time-honored plastic shovel and pail, met the demands of the day.  Bavarian castles nestled in the pictures of history books are but doll houses compared to the designs prepared by the imagination of this nine year old boy. There was work to be done, a kingdom to build!

“Don’t build your castle too close to the water dear, or the tide may come and ruin your hard work!” warned mother. With a wave of his hand he acknowledged mother’s sincere but unsolicited advice.

Meanwhile, little sister, only twenty-two months his junior, watched her brother move out for the day’s work. He began; his facial expression as determined as a Wall Street broker. “Let’s go look for stuff in the tide pools,” suggested little sis. “Can’t, busy.” He replied without missing a beat, digging what was to be the moat of a medieval palace.

Sis walked to look for stuff by herself. The tide pools offered an array of treasures that day including mussels, aggregating anemones, limpets, chitons, California sea hares, snails, crabs, fishes, lobsters, and octopus. The young girl knew to look but not touch the creatures. She was, after all, a guest in their home. After the treasure hunt sis found a rock that sat her like royalty as she watched the waves crash on-shore. She breathed in the golden air, and swallowed the rays of sun that kissed her back and shoulders. The taste of salty breeze and the scent of sun block carries her deep into summer. The sun has been up long enough to warm her feet as he pushed them deep into the sand. As the world engulfs her tiny form she smiles and the world smiles back.

Meanwhile brother deals with setbacks. Mother hassles him every fifteen minutes or so about staying hydrated or a reapplication of lotion. What is worse is that the entire western wall collapsed beneath its own weight as the sun dried the sand, refilling the moat by almost a third. If this wasn’t fixed by noon then the whole project could be bust. Sweat pooled above his brow and needles disturbed his belly.

Sis walked by and found a shade spot under the parasol next to mom, who offered her a “Capri Sun” and her favorite book, “The Big Friendly Giant,” by Rohald Dahl. As she read her thoughts wandered into lands of make believe, she laughed at the silliness of circumstances, and she enjoyed the adventures of her friends; she just couldn’t bare to call them characters. She layed down on the towel, placing the novel over her face and breathed in deeply the smell of books. She dozed under the levity that summer provides.

Brother, upon completing the affair late that afternoon, was proud of the results. Now the tide was brushing closer to the property boarders until, at last, the sea reclaimed all of its sand.

Part Two

Everything humans do will one day be undone. Everything. No exceptions. Death is inevitable, not only in living things but in doings as well. We know this is true, but we don’t believe it. We prefer to hide death and destruction from our eyes; we bury it, we burn it, we replace it with new life, but we seldom think about death and destruction as the truest promise in life.

I wonder, did the designers and builders of the Twin Towers expect to witness the destruction of their work or did they build them “to last forever”?

Yet we build things anyway, knowing full well that the sea of time will always reclaim all of her sands. And of course we must build! Projects are important. We all must do our part to help the carousel of the world go ’round. People must be fed, medicine administered, children taught, and nations must grow. There is plenty to do!

The human error, however, is to believe that doing is the greatest human act; that our cities and sciences are eternal and that is the crowning Jewell of human capacity. No. 

Our greatest act is no action at all. Our highest power is being. This is our truest calling, our primitive groan. Our main job in life is to live it, be it, witness it, enjoy it, smell it, hear it , taste it, touch it, be it! We have no task in life, we have no homework to do. We are all on summer vacation so let’s doze in the levity that summer provides!

The young boy’s endeavor to build isn’t wrong, it’s futile. Doing only has true meaning when being comes first.

Brother spent the entire day doing, and in the end he had nothing. Sister spent the entire day being, and in the end she was filled with life, which, “neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.”

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
(Matthew 6:19)

Treasures on earth are all the things that money can buy but will one day be destroyed, or left at the side of the grave. 

Instead Jesus tells us to store treasure in heaven, (which is within you! Remember? You are the kingdom of God made in his image!). The good news is that simply being in this world, as the young girl did that day at the beach, stores up treasure in heaven, because it stores up life, beauty and experience in her soul. And this soul-heaven-treasure cannot be destroyed because it is uncomposed, it is spirit, it is her deepest and highest self. She innately knew somehow that she will never not exist, so she didn’t bother with doings that one day must not exist. 

Recently I packed my bags and camped atop a Colorado mountain for two days. Before I left some people asked me, “What are you going to do up there all by yourself?” “Read, write, hike, sleep…” were my answers because I didn’t want to sound crazy saying, “Nothing! I only want to be there!”

On that camping trip I rediscovered the purpose of life. It isn’t complicated or mysterious, it’s just to be in this world and be the witness and consciousness of the world. Or even better, the purpose of life is just to be. How simple is that?

I wonder how many will be angry with this message? I can almost hear the criticism, “This guy thinks cancers research is a waste of time! He would have us all staring at each other instead!” 

Let those who have ears to hear listen! 

A Spiritual Exercise

When a hand is inside a puppet you have the choice to identify with the hand inside the puppet, or with the semblance of the character the puppet portrays. The character, of course, calls our attention, so it takes effort to identify with the true life within the puppet, the person’s hand.

I am going to see how long I can go today feeling my body from within, rather than feeling the world from without.

Answer to a Humble Prayer

[The words below are mine, the meaning behind them came in a moment of silent prayer. God is not as wordy as I am.]

My Son,

Here is your work:

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
-Mary Engelbreit

The anxiety of change comes from the desire to change others instead of yourself. An autumn leaf looks inside itself and makes a real physical change revealing its unique color, pattern, and beauty. It cannot change anything but itself.

I have heard you say, My son, “In a perfect world everything would bend to my will.” But I say to you that in a perfect world every will would bend to another. That is love. 

Love yourself, by loving those around you. Forgive youself by forgiving those around you. Understand yourself by understanding those around you. Be youself by being those around you. 

Change yourself and you will change those around you.

I love you My son.

Young and Old

A bird lands on the upmost branch of the Pechanga Oak Tree. The hatchling not yet a year, sits upon two-thousand years of life.

“Let me sing you a tune in exchange for wisdom, for you have no song and I have no sophistication.” The tree respired the passing breeze and answered the young life, “Sing!”

The bird whistled its softest tune, as the tree listened.

When the tune came to completion, the tree asked, “What do you seek?” The young bird had not planned this far. “Who are you?” he blurted out in embarrassment.

“I AM life in the form of tree.” Was his reply.

“No, no, no,” said the bird. “Who are you? What do you do? Who are your friends and family?”

“I AM none of those things,” replied the tree. “I AM life in the form of tree.”

“But you are the famous Pachanga Oak! You have watched two thousand years of history unfold before you!”

“I have heard others use such language to refer to me,” said the tree. “But that is not my nature. I AM life in the form of tree.”

The bird flew to a lower branch within the canopy of leaves. “I don’t mean to argue”, said the bird, “but you clearly do not understand. What do you like, what do you love to do? What is it that separates you from other trees in this grove? What makes you, you?”

“Little one,” smiled the tree embracing the bird within him, “I answer you in truth, I AM life in the form of tree, and I am not separate from the trees in the grove. We are one, as you and I are one, for I do not lack your song and you do not lack my sophistication. WE ARE life in separate form, but WE ARE one beneath that disguise.”

The bird looked at the tree in pity. “Age has got the best of you, sir, I am truly sorry for your delusion.”

The wisdom of youth is to be humble, and wisdom of the old is novice. Age is but a hatchling in the world of wisdom.

I was not born into the world, I was born out of it like a wave in the ocean. One day my life will age and end, and I will return home to life before form. I AM.

A Humble Prayer

The individual perceives his wounds to be his alone; unmerited, unjust, and unshared. It is, however, his communion with the species– the whole– and mostly self inflicted.

I haven’t suffered much in my 38 years. I wish to build a tolerance to pain preparing myself for my part in global sympathy. I believe the best things in life come through pain, not because of the pain, but through it, because that is where these best things reside; just on the other side. Forming an autonomy to comfort builds courage to walk through pain quickening authentic change, that is, evolution.

True change is like childbirth. Through the pain, coupled with an aversion to comfort for the sake of true work, a woman brings forth a new life that not only changes her name, but what she does, what she values, what she says, what she thinks, how she thinks, where she place her energies, what she desires. It takes her a step beyond ego, into her higher being, into the Kingdom of God within her. This is a true growth, a step from ocean to land, an evolution. I seek this kind of change in me.

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

I am ready to conquer my fear, not because I am no longer afraid, but because my state within the cave no longer serves me. It rasps and grates my soul like salt in a wound, I seek relief through growth beyond fear and beyond pain.

My only problem: I have no idea what that means. I don’t know what to do, or how to walk down this path!

Prayer

What is my work, O Lord, and what is my conveyance? What is my share, and my charge? I humbly ask, O God, an answer to my prayer, as I remember Your promises:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”
(Matthew 7:7)

My prayer to You, O God, is in the words of your son David:

LORD, my heart is not proud; nor are my eyes haughty. I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me. Rather, I have stilled my soul, like a weaned child to its mother, weaned is my soul. My soul, hope in the LORD, now and forever.
(Psalm 131)

I sing this song of trust, giving up self-sufficiency, like a babe enjoying the comfort of his mother’s lap, I place myself in You.

Bodhisattva

I am afraid of change, I am afraid of growth, I am afraid of becoming. How does one overcome fear? Where does courage come from? Perhaps it comes from the utter bitterness and discontent with your current state, pushing you into change. When the oceans were no longer feeding the needs of the first amphibians, and instead closed in on them, spoiling their sense of comfort there, they felt the interior and primitive thrust to survive, not by changing the ocean, but by moving to land! By doing so they overcame fear. If fear controls my life, what I am and who I am, then I’m not much.

My world fears fear. I shelter myself in my carpeted home, sooth my skin with the softest clothes and soaps, I place myself into a nap of comfort that keeps the sharps and corners of change at bay. 

I was in the pool with my children the other day. I couldn’t bring myself to put my upper body beneath the water! It would have been “uncomfortable”! What kind of life is that where I cannot bear to feel the chill of water? Change requires the strength of courage. To over come fear takes a kind of disdain for comfort. I threw myself under the water by sheer force of will, and I felt it’s coolness all over my back and shoulders. It didn’t kill me, on the contrary I felt more alive, what did begin to die, however, was my addiction to comfort. Life isn’t meant to be hid from and tolerated until death. I want to get out of my hiding place, and become vulnerable to the change I so desperately desire and simultaneously fear!

Like those first amphibians, I’m about ready to move to a “new land”, a new frontier, within myself. It’s going to happen to me and with me, and it will happen sooner than I think. 

What I seek: to experience exactly who I am

In other words, I just want to know how to move beyond the ego– the lie of separation–and love as my Heavenly Father has loved me. And then bring this love to the world; remembering that I have to find the fun where I am, not where I think it might be in the future.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34)

“Quia eripuit anima mea de morte, occulos meos a lacrimis, pedes meos a lapsu, placebo Domino on regione vivorum.”

“For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”
(Psalm 116:8)