Being mindful in the present moment is not always easy, but when I make the effort, it allows me to absorb and experience life, nature, and others in ways that contribute to inter-being and peaceful interactions. (Walking/hiking more often is ideal. Painting and gardening are also wonderful mindful meditations. Some of my painted rocks are pictured below.)
I took this photo of a lotus flower at Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate New York a few years ago. I became acquainted with Buddhism while reading Jack Kerouac in 1988, but Thich Nhat Hanh became my spiritual father (in 2005) and Pema Chodron (after that) my spiritual mother years later. (The larger truth is that humans know from childhood on.) I have also been incorporating mindfulness in my English and Creative Writing classes for quite some time now.
MindLESSly daydreaming, creating, and connecting at home and with others through community projects is fun as well.
(written on Father’s Day 2017 and revised in 2018)
Our garden brings me great joy
Because it connects me to the natural wonders of my world:
My grandfathers and mothers,
My aunts and uncles,
And my dear partner in life,
Who has lost much and is struggling to regain,
As have I,
As have many of us,
And for whom I am eternally grateful,
In this life and the Great Beyond.
As the tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, carrots,
Rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, and mint grow,
The petunias bloom,
The sunflowers, milkweed, zinnias, and old fashions rise up,
The dipladenia beckon the hummingbirds,
The daisy patches chuckle in the wind,
The salvia comes back to life,
The birds sing their glorious songs,
The bumblebees and butterflies fly by in hopes of drinking sweet nectar,
The double wings of the dragonflies shimmer,
And as the energy travels there and here and back again
As people do whatever they wish to make themselves happy and the world a better place,
I know that all is well
Under the warm sun
In this one beautiful moment of truth.
Oh, how fortunate I am to be alive,
No matter how difficult life can be sometimes.
We live in a pluralistic society. A Unitarian Universalist* or other type (including an atheist or agnostic) who respects the Constitution and knows how to maintain the separation of religious institutions and State as well as welcomes a range of ideas and is inspired by them to offer understandings and make decisions would make a great Supreme Court Justice, Congressperson, Governor, or President.
*I have been exploring Unitarian Universalism as a seeker or within a community since the 1990s.
What about the homeless veterans and other people struggling on the streets and farms?
What about the people of Puerto Rico living and dying in the dark?
What about the water in Flint and other cities and the people drinking it?
What about the black snake that destroys the sacred land?
What about the classrooms with broken chairs and crumbling textbooks and the fights in the halls?
What about the addicted mother putting Mountain Dew in her baby’s bottle and all the other mothers who can’t afford to feed their children let alone pay for childcare?
What about all the deaths from guns that had nothing to do with gang violence?
What about the gang of racists promoting and committing violence?
What about all the Matthew Shepards and his sisters who killed themselves instead?
What about the drugged and violated victims who should be believed?
What about the banned despite freedom of religion and founders’ faith in separation of church and state?
What about the innocent man in handcuffs ripped from his home and broken by the black shirts?
What about the kids in cages separated from their parents and the world crying for them?
What about the bees and butterflies that help us grow as well?
What about transitioning to a society run by people who care rather than those on the run?
Update on 8/5/18: Inspired by a student’s suggestion and after undergoing a year of brainstorming and planning, soon we will have our first EHS #Zen Garden set up meeting at the high school where I teach. On this day, we will put fabric and rocks down. Here is a definition and statement to help all understand our purpose.
zen : a state of calm attentiveness in which one’s actions are guided by intuition rather than by conscious effort
Perhaps that is the zen of gardening—you become one with the plants, lost in the rhythm of the tasks at hand. — Irene Virag
#creativity #unity #peace
On Thursday, August 23rd, a few of us did get together to begin the EHS Zen Garden. Consider it part one of a very rough draft so far.
(A poem I read on the first night of Beacon Open Stage in June)
The external world
Feels dim and dingy,
Cold, divisive, and painful,
I have ever known.
Experiencing tender joy is one
Writing a simple poem,
Planting seeds to
Welcome butterflies later,
Walking along a wooded path,
Listening to the ebb and flow of ocean waves,
Basking in the sunlight on a sandy beach,
Spending time with loved ones
Are ways to
Relying on limited understandings is futile,
But resisting authoritarianism
Is not —
No matter what anyone tells us.
The time is now
To remember who we were
Before anyone told us who to hate,
To remember how to connect with
The natural beauty and truth within ourselves and each other,
To remember to light the inner candle
Of warmth, clarity, and peace
That unites us all
In the darkness.