Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Waters of Life

In my morning reading from The Book of Awakening, by Mark Nepo,[1] I found a connection with another of my morning rituals, the review of Facebook postings from my friends. 

Raven Dana had posted a You Tube item about a waltz composed 50 years ago by Sir Anthony Hopkins, a well known actor, but which he had never played.  Sir Anthony had asked the also famous musician/conductor, Andre’ Rieu, to play it, which he did.  I found the waltz beautiful, intricate and emotionally uplifting. [2]   My own tears of joy flowed at the thought of how music graces our lives and how it can bring us into harmony with the “Song of Life” itself.

I’d like to quote the passage from Awakening in order illustrate the author’s discovery of his own “waters of life.”

I was traveling in South Africa and felt very tender one morning, when my friend Kim came upon me as I was weeping.  She asked if I was okay.  I told her it was only the waters of life splashing up my shore.  Later that day I found her near tears and checked in with her.  She said, “The river’s now in me.”
We looked into each other and realized that we all share the same river.  It flows beneath us and through us, from one dry heart to the next.  We share the same river.  It makes the Earth one living thing.
The whole of life has a power to soften and open us against our will, to irrigate our spirits, and in those moments, we discover that tears, the water from within, are a common blood, mysterious and clear.  We may speak different languages and live very different lives, but when that deep water swells to the surface, it pulls us to each other.
We share the same river, and where it enters, we lose our stubbornness the way fists wear open when held under in the stream of love.

At times in my life I have been criticized for the apparent easy expression of my emotions through tears.  It used to bother me that others did not seem to understand what I felt, or how it was not a symptom of some unknown weakness.  Rather, for me, there was a mystical sense of connection with all that is as it became apparent in a specific event or piece of writing or even within a movie.  I think this is what Mark Nepo was recognizing through his tears.  There are those special waters of life that well up within us in those moments we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to let down the barriers of our stubbornness so that stress, inharmonies, hurts or whatever else may trouble us may be let go.  In letting go we once again can thrive.  In that moment we are open to the deep joys of simple things that have gone unnoticed.

In a “perfect world” we would always be open to the oneness of all life and our particular oneness in that life.  While the world—as Creation—may indeed be perfect, our expression within that world of potential does not always rise to the occasion.  I am grateful every time I feel that rise within me.  I increasingly find more to enjoy in life and less that is uncomfortable or troubling.  Long way to go, but I think I am on the path.  At least the path I am on is increasingly rewarding.

May you also find yourself in the waters of life!

[1]  The Book Of Awakening, Mark Nepo.  Large Print Press, A part of Gale, Cengage Learning

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Something To Think About

For many years I have believed in the theory that the outer universe was a macrocosm similar to the microcosm that is our human body.  I saw the structure of our body—the cells, atoms and molecules—like a universe of stars and galaxies.  Science has informed us that the space between the atoms that comprise our bodies have the same relative space as exists between the stars in the Cosmos.  We are more “space” than “substance.”

Over 40 years ago, in a newsletter I published at the time, I wrote about an experience I had one Sunday morning.  I arose early, retrieved the Sunday paper from the porch and sat down in my study to read it.  At some point I looked up from the paper and out the window I saw Colfax Avenue, a main east/west street in Denver.  Traffic was light due to the early time of day and the fact it was Sunday.  As I saw a car heading east on Colfax I suddenly had the vision of the city as a nervous system in the body.  The car became the “carrier” of signals to parts of the body from the brain.  Then I imagined the various other systems of the body expanding on the concept of how the body was like a small universe.  The cells and tissues were like a solar system.  All of the elements of the body connected one part of that micro universe to other parts.  The whole process of imagining this took just seconds, but it profoundly affected my sense of connection with all that is.

Since man first contemplated the make up of the universe and how it all began, there have been competing discussions about the “Big Bang” theory and others.  Einstein, in his theory of relativity, posited that gravity bends light, which would result in the creation of ripples in the fabric of space and time.  Such an activity of waves of light would support the “Big Bang” theory of how the universe began.  These “waves” have never been able to be seen before.  This morning, however, USA Today reported that scientists at the South Pole, using special telescopes in the clear, dry atmosphere there, believe they have discovered those actual waves of light rippling out from the center of the creation of the universe in an ever-expanding flow.

As I envisioned those ripples moving outward in an infinite flow like ripples in a pond after a tossed stone breaks the calm surface, I could not help but imagine a What if scenario.  Since the dawning of conscious awareness in humankind we have wondered if we are alone in this vast universe.  To many of us it seems impossible that in the vastness that comprises our “home” we have no neighbors.  What if by looking out into the universe for those neighbors, we are actually looking back in time.  Again, science informs us that everything we see in our skies happened millennia ago and is just now registering in our sight. 

What if in the ripples of that pond humanity is placed at some point within the concentric circles that move outward into infinity?  If we see ourselves as a kind of midpoint in the evolution of life, then in the ripples beyond where we are there might just be other probable points on the evolutionary scale representing further evolved forms of life.  What if we are looking back at life forms less developed than we are? What if looking forward there are other civilizations more advanced than we are?  What if there is an evolutionary continuity of life from the simplest beginning wave outward, infinitely, to more complex forms in waves advancing before us?

Life seems to constantly move from the simplest forms into ever-increasing complex forms.  What if this really is how life unfolds?  What if this is the “heaven” we have before us?  What if there is an ability to recognize both the history and the future of life and to communicate with those aspects of “Reality?”  Our consciousness has only scratched the surface of its full potential.  Much more lies beyond our current view. Scripture tells us, Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things unseen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)  I am also reminded of the words of Browning:  Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for? 

Something to think about.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Kennedy Center Honors for 2013

I try every year to watch the Annual Kennedy Center Honors program.  I recorded it on my DVR this year and just finished watching it.  I don’t know exactly why the arts have become such an important part of my life, but over the years with thanks to numerous friends with a variety of interests and tastes for art of all kinds, I have found myself to be an enthusiastic observer. 

The arts are of incredible importance to civilized society.  A society without an appreciation for the creativity of its members is a society dead to life itself.  I, for one, am eternally grateful to the Kennedy Center for sharing and promoting the artistic talents of so many who have blessed our sights, sounds, and presence through the years.  To me it is a sacrilege to watch elements of our government consistently try to cut funding for the arts.  The arts feed us in a way nothing else can.  Only government can truly provide the broad base of funding necessary to insure a continuing presence of the arts for all.  Of course private funding, through such programs as the Kennedy Honors, provide by far the most significant support.  But without our government acknowledging their importance the arts are continually challenged for their survival.

This year the celebrants were:  Carlos Santana, Martine Arroyo, Herbie Hancock, Shirley MacLaine and Billy Joel. (Photo Courtesy: John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images.)  It would be easy to overlook the contributions of these artists by thinking, “been there, done that,” but I knew as soon as the program started that I would have missed an iconic event.  To have the display of the talents of these gifted persons all in one place at one time is a joy to behold.  If you did not see this program, I strongly suggest you avail yourself of one of the after markets for programming such as Hulu, Amazon or others, and reward yourself with the wonder of creativity.  You can find out more about the program here:

Coming to realize how much music, theater, movies and art of all genres has come to mean to me has, at the same time, left a tremendous ache in my heart for the lack of my ability to personally express some form of art.  A friend reminded me recently that I could still learn to express artistic talent in some way.  I could learn to play an instrument, or sing or paint.  My response was to reject the notion, citing my obvious difficulty learning the subtleties of those forms of creativity.  The one area I seem to have left for creative expression is my writing.  Even if it never was important to anyone else, being able to express whatever talent I have in this way is very satisfying and gives me a sense of productivity.  That is another insight the arts offer us—a glimpse of the productivity of the creative spirit in wondrous ways!

So this becomes my message for the New Year:  Rejoice in the arts and to whatever extent you are able, share your own creativity with the rest of us!

Happy New Year—2014

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Reflections and Anticipation

In the day after Christmas I find I am in a reflective and grateful mood.  This year, in my new (to me) home, I felt the anticipation of Christmas as I haven’t for a number of years.  Having given away all my Christmas decorations and artificial tree, I had to start all over acquiring those things that would reflect my Christmas Spirit.  Thanks to my good friend, Lisa, I had strings of lights to adorn my outdoors.  Thanks to Wal-Mart I found a small tree that was just right, and a few ornaments to make it even better.

One thing I discovered to my dismay is that I did not have any real Christmas albums.  So I was left to find something on Pandora, Music TV or elsewhere.  I am a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas music and while I think some of the contemporary music is “cute,” I want “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “Silent Night,” “Panis Angelicus,” and so many more.  Fortunately, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir again provided their special presentation of Christmas.  Then, on Facebook a friend posted “The Lord’s Prayer” with Andrea Bocelli and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir—the BEST EVER!

I have remedied my lack of music somewhat by ordering several albums from Amazon, which also includes their “Cloud” service that has all the music I ever bought from them. (Listening to the cloud right now!)  Isn’t our modern technology just the greatest thing ever?

As I listen to all this wonderful music the reflections of Christmases past flowed through my consciousness.  I am so grateful for them.  They keep those experiences shared with my loved ones close in my heart though they are miles away.

So it is a time of reflecting upon the year now passing and anticipation for the coming year.  I have a feeling it might just be the best one ever!  I am going to do my best to make it so.  My wish for you is that the New Year is also the very best for you!

Happy New Year!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tiny Beautiful Things, Revisited

As I was reviewing “hits” on my LifeCentering blog this morning, I noticed an article I posted in July 2012 had been visited by a reader  The article was my response to a book by Cheryl Strayed.   After looking at the post I decided to repost it, especially since Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild: Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, was being made into a movie.  Reese Witherspoon is cast as Cheryl.  Some of you may be following her Facebook page and know the details.

I found my comments from that post are still important to me today.  Maybe you will find the review helpful as well.

Tiny Beautiful Things
I know that some of you don’t really care about what I have read or why or how it affected me.  But some of you do.  It is to you that I write to let you know I just finished, Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl (Dear Sugar) Strayed.  My previous article on this blog was primarily about the author’s book, Wild: From Lost To Found On the Pacific Crest Trail.  Dear Sugar was an advice column written by the author, who had remained anonymous until recently.  I read about her book, Wild, in our local paper and it was in that review that she “outed” herself as the person who had been writing the advice on love and life column for The 

Now why in the world would I, a retired person living alone, care at all about advice on love and life?  Actually, when I started reading the book, it was not because it consisted of many of the advice letters she had received and answered.  It was because of how impressed I was with her writing in general.  Since I consider myself a writer as well, I am interested in how other authors develop their ideas.  I knew from reading Wild that I would probably like her latest work.

In a way I was not surprised by the fact that her “advice” on love and life hit a resonant chord for me in so many ways.  I have had my share of love and life experiences and feel I learned something about myself in each of them.  However, I discovered new ways of looking at love and life, especially as I thought of the people I have loved and do love.  I never really felt I deserved to be loved.  Expectations about what could be or should be the way love works were never quite that way for me because of that lack of deserving.  I spent much of my time with a therapist trying to better understand the ways in which I really did deserve to be loved and to how love others.  I wish I could say I have finished that part of my learning experience.  I have not.

I still am unable to articulate what love is all about.  I know though that in the pages of this book I constantly gained insights that I strongly felt were representative of my needs and ways in which I could have done better in relationships and hopefully can apply from here on out to my friends and loved ones.  There is always something to learn.  Life is never finished and we should not delude ourselves into thinking that we have arrived at some exact point of conclusion (on any subject).

One very personal event in my life was touched upon in this book.  Some years ago I shared with my son something that I had felt about our relationship.  I told him that I felt he was my teacher.  How I stated that at the time is probably not how I actually felt it, but it was the clearest way I could say it at the time. Here in this book I gained a further insight to what I tried to convey to my son then.  Dear Sugar, in her response to “Living Dead Dad” said:

More will be revealed.  Your son hasn’t yet taught you everything he has to teach you.  He taught you how to love like you’ve never loved before.  He taught you how to suffer like you’ve never suffered before.  Perhaps the next thing he has to teach you is acceptance.  And the thing after that, forgiveness.

Love is such a powerful thing.  It will teach you whether you like it or not and whether you are ready or not.  What it will teach you is personal in every case.  Whether we will accept the potential lesson and move with it is up to each of us.  I will tell you this, you do not have to have all the answers about love and life in order to love and live!  Just do it for god’s sake!  Do it as best you can.  Love everyone and every experience that comes your way.  You will never regret having loved.  If you feel regret for having loved someone who did not love you back as you hoped, maybe there is another way to love that person without your expectation of the way it should be.  I don’t know how it will be for you, but I know each of us must keep loving and finding new ways to express love.  Otherwise, we are not truly living.

Cheryl Strayed pulled absolutely no punches in her advice.  She hit so hard it must have felt like literally being hit in the stomach for some of those who wrote to her.  It certainly knotted my stomach more than once. But, and this is a big but, she never attempted to belittle the writers no matter how apparently stupid, unforgiving or judgmental their attitude may have been.  And she always caressed softly with her words the tender spots they exposed so that each person could be receptive enough to fully consider the possibilities within their particular challenge.

I wish I could be as clear and caring and direct with love in my writing as Sugar is.  Maybe it is because I am a retired person living alone that this writer has come into my life.  I certainly feel uplifted and blessed by having her work in my library and in my consciousness.  Maybe you would like her too.