Sunday, October 31, 2010


It has been a growthful month with much to do and much to ponder. I have felt overwhelmed at times with the amount that I needed to accomplish and then at times I felt incredible peace and pure joy.

Part of the reason that I am feeling a little overwhelmed is because I am taking a class in New York and I need to rearrange my work schedule to accommodate the four and half hour schlep back and forth into the city. Plus, I have two mentees to tend to, I have appointments with my supervisor and my spiritual counselor. I'm on the reunion committee and I'm on the alumni committee. I am a Deans' Assistant. Then there are all things that need taking care of at home- which isn't much of a home.

Here it is 4:30 in the morning and I am listening to my brother play the same six notes on the organ. I think I were to kill him at this moment, it would be considered justifiable homicide. He is the bane of my existence and I'm sure there is a karmic lesson that I need to work out with him...

The class I am taking is about the "The Cloud of The Unknowing." It has been an interesting month because of this reading. What I have really begun to own is my divinity. My oneness with God. And how far along this path I have already come. Now I know that smacks of ego, but it isn't ego. I am not comparing myself to others and where they are. I am just a little surprised that I have come so far. It is only by God's grace that I am here.

This book is interesting. It was written by a teacher teaching a pupil in the art of contemplative centering prayer. I haven't done centering prayer before and I find it somewhat challenging. Although last night, I sat down and I did it for forty-five minutes. It is like meditating, very similar, and I was able to maintain consciousness throughout, my mind however, just chattered away. I was able to transcend it for brief moments. It was really lovely and I will continue to practice this form of meditation.

However, my ah-ha moment came last week. I missed class because I had decided to stay home and participate in the webinar instead of doing the big schlep and then found that I could not sign into the webinar. It was very frustrating. Then that night I had a dream. It was one of "those" dreams that I have. In my dream, I was in class and my dear friend Sharon Spilkin came all the way from South Africa to be in the class. I was so surprised to see her at One Spirit. We were in class; I was looking at a small computer screen watching the class and I heard a booming voice say, "Look up!" I looked up and I was really surprised to see everyone, including Sharon looking at a computer screen. No one was looking at the class living class. Everything was grey and smokey. I said to Sharon, "Look up. You came all the way from South Africa and all you are doing is looking at a computer screen." Then I shouted to everyone, "Look up!" They did. Everyone looked around as if dazed.

But, while this was going on, there were two songs playing simultaneously in the background. One was a line from Neil Young's song "After the Gold Rush" and the other was Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah!" "Hallelujah!" played in its entirety. I word every word of it. From Neil Young's song the line "All in a dream" played over and over. It was then that I had my own "Hallelujah!" moment. 

In the song he talks about the nature of human suffering, how we bring it on ourselves. Part of the lyrics are, "...our love is not a victory march, it's a cold and broken Hallelujah." It's a song about the moment of release, sexual release and also spiritual surrender. 

I'm not sure I'm so taken with this song. It's a painful song and I have been listening to it ever since. I have been listening to K.D.Lang's version mostly, it's more musical than Leonard Cohen's and her voice is better.

Human suffering is part of life. We live - we suffer. But, much of our suffering is of our own doing. We are the architects of it. It is only when we are able to release does it end. It is that moment of surrender that is the Hallelujah moment. As we surrender and allow, that is the moment the Holy Spirit is able to move in and we have are able to have union with God. We can also do the same thing through joy. It doesn't only have to be brought on my suffering. The Holy Spirit can move through us in those moments of joy too. 

I used an image in one of my postings to the class website and I will use it here to stand as a metaphor for what I am trying to express. We are like a rock embedded in a stream. The water will flow no matter what, but we as the rock, sticking out above the water, cause the water to go around us. It rushes past us and as it does, it also carves us; wearing us down. We suffer. But, if the rock were to let go, just let go it would be free of the mud and float freely down the stream with the current. The struggle would end.

Bit by bit, I am growing. It's funny how little things show me the changes that have happened. I believe that God is calling to me. I reached out to God and he is answering. God is far more than any of us will ever be able to comprehend. God is a verb. God is now. Only now. And now. And now. And now again. It is moment by moment that we grow- that I grow. The words to a song have had a profound impact on me this week. Next week? Who knows? It might be another song, a poem, a squirrel, a crying baby. It could be an unspeakable tragedy or an amazing spiritual banquet. Life is an adventure and we are, as my friend Barry said so eloquently in class, "We are enfolded in God."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Sacred in The Ordinary

Once again it has been a while since I wrote. Life has been very busy, sometimes wonderfully busy, sometimes overwhelming, but always busy.

I went to the Art of Dying Conference last week in the Catskills. Oh my, the beauty of the retreat center where it was held was breath taking, inspiring and just plain cool. I loved the setting and did not what to leave... ever. The conference was excellent. Frank Ostaeski, Robert Thurman and Marianne Williamson were some of the presenters. I signed up for workshops with them and I was wowed by the depth of their knowledge and the care they gave to their presentations. Marianne Williamson was good, she seemed tired to me.

My favorite was Frank Ostaeski. He has such presence and compassion, it flows from him freely. He really inspired me. During the course of his talk he said something that has stayed with ever since. It was:

"The sacred is hidden in the ordinary."

The sacred is hidden in the ordinary. Slicing a tomato, petting your dog, a plastic water bottle laying in the street, a dying child, a dirty rag. It is all sacred. Everything we see, do touch, taste, hear feel is sacred. Everything is sacred.

This week I have tried to hold that thought in my head as move throughout my day... "the sacred is hidden in the ordinary." As I approached events, people, creatures, and objects I held the thought of their sacredness in my consciousness. Life became sacred. Interactions became sacred. It was an amazing practice and one that I will continue. It has made a big difference.

Another thing that Frank Ostaeski did was tell a story which I will retell here.

A few years back there was a man that started a new job with the phone company. He went to work placing telephone poles along a long stretch of road in Arizona. He was paired up working with a veteran at laying telephone poles. They were working together for a while and the new man on the job said, "I've been thinking- if this pole falls over it could kill me; if it starts to go, I'm gonna run like hell that way," and he pointed over his shoulder. The veteran just smiled and said, "Then you'd be dead." The new man asked him what he meant and the veteran said, "The safest place to be is right up at the pole. You place your hands on the pole and ride it out."  

The safest place to be is right up against the dangerous thing! Isn't that something to think about.

We all want to be healed of our suffering. We want to be whole and complete. It turns out that the safest place to be is sitting with your suffering; tasting it getting to know it- finding its source. It is in the knowing that you can let it go... riding it out like a falling telephone pole.

I have found that to be true in my life. Through self knowledge and accepting responsibility, I have found much peace. It has only happened when I didn't run away in fear, but I faced my problems head on, accepted the truth of my dilemma, surrendered to it and it is only then that obstacles fall away. 

Sounds so easy doesn't it?