working with Kristin Neff's approach, here is what self-kindness looked like this week while I was ill. Self care does not always come easily, but I'm getting much better at it...
working to connect with humanity, here is what JAY MAKRANSKY'S PRACTICE on BENEFACTORS looked like...
In Markranksy's 'Learning to Recognize Benefactors' exercise, I brought to mind the many people who have gifted me with their love, attention and instruction over the years. I was swamped with an endless parade of characters, some known to me, and some not. It rather felt like being part of that old Christmas Coca Cola television commercial that begins with the face of one child in full frame and then pulls back to reveal two children, then pulls back to reveal four more, then eight more and so on until there is an enormous Christmas tree of faces, the first child seemingly supported by all the others. While doing this meditation/practice this is the image that came to mind. When you look at me there is one face looking back. But trailing behind me are the millions of connecting people who have made my current existence possible. Makaransky comments that "very few of us would have survived our childhood had it not been for the countless, now mostly forgotten, acts of loving kindness extended to us." (Awakening Through Love, 18).
Here are just a few of the many who hold me in love, either by their own personal love for me, or for the fact that they have extended their love to serve humanity, and I am by virtue of being alive, in their embrace: My husband Bruce, and children Michael, Christopher and Madelaine; my parents George and Ruth; Martin Luther King and all those who have given their lives to uplift the lives of others; all the woman who come to my home and into my life to serve the larger good; Albert Schweitzer, whom I have had a crush on since I was six and who shares by birthday; two of the many girlfriends without whom I am a lost creatures, Leisa and Ann; so many elders throughout my life; the gracious Little Flower; my beloved grandmother Jane Jardine; Rabbi Abraham Heschel who taught me about Sabbath and beauty in faith; Jesus' presence, my ultimate Beloved; my personal Saint Simone; George Grant, a man of deep integrity; all the musicians, singers and performers who have supported my work; more girlfriends - can you have too many?; mes beaux-parents Anthony and Esther; Evelyn Underhill, the consummate spiritual director; churches, especially the rural ones; choirs offering celebration and joy; Gandhi, with whom I share the battle of of the lentils and the search after truth. Benefactors all. And I, the fortunate recipient of their love and gift.
working with mindfulness, here is what it looked like in the moment. . .
When I was younger I hated my hands. I thought they looked like the hands of a peasant - working hands. I yearned to have long tapered fingers, elegant hands, the hands of an artist. But at some time in my life, I came to see my hands as useful, strong, capable, friendly, and quite clever. This last week, I have spent a lot of time looking at them and considering what they mean to me. They have become my 'in the moment' practice. I can look at them anytime and be drawn into a moment of gratitude for their still being there, and still working. My hands humble me. It is not possible to feel self-pity when I consider their endless gift. Like my breath, they are life to me, life to all those I love. They feed and dress me. They do my endless typing, cook my dinner, reach out in love. I am lost without them. But I am supposing too, that they would be lost without me.
And here is what it looked like on the mountain. . .
She is a lovely creature this little girl.
How did she not know this?
How did she not know the amazement of her very self?
Dear Protector, you have been doing a very good job looking after little me.
I understand that you are trying to protect me from further hurt.
And I appreciate you efforts on my behalf.
But I would like you to step aside so I can go through the door into the garden.
There are things to be known there.