Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Luxury of Doubt

I don’t have the luxury of doubt. That is the phrase that keeps coming to me over and over again recently. I don’t have the luxury of doubt.

 It came up first in relation to the aftermath of the typhoon that struck the Philippines. I felt helpless, I felt impotent, I felt frustrated. All I could do was host a meditation and invite people to join me in sending peace and love to those in need in the Philippines. There was the part of my mind that whispered, “How will that help? They need food and water and shelter. Your love and peace won’t reach them or help them.” Luckily, I listened to my heart, which gently said to my mind, “I no longer have the luxury of doubt.” I knew the truth of it as soon as the thought appeared. We have reached a point where the automatic, deeply ingrained doubt has to become irrelevant. Doubting that we are all made of the same stuff, despite where we live, how we worship or the color of our skin. Doubting that we have been poor stewards of this earth and have not done irrevocable damage to it. Doubting that an act of kindness can change a life. Doubting that one person can change the course of history – one woman remaining seated on a bus leaves no room for that doubt. Doubting that I am connected to you and that what I do impacts not only you, but the entire universe.

Why is it that I can no longer doubt these things? I simply can’t live with the consequences if there is even the slightest chance that they are true and I don’t live that truth. I can’t live with the consequences of my act of unkindness touching the whole universe with unkindness. I can’t live with the consequences of my choices in my relationship with our natural resources that I see reflected in the eyes of those in the Philippines. I can’t live with the consequences on the course of history if I choose to stand up and move to the back of the bus, when I can take a stand by sitting. I can’t live with the consequences of doubting my love and peace can reach out across the world and touch another if it might leave someone in despair. I can’t live with that.

Throughout this I understand that I was born into a life where I do have the luxury of choices and that there are those who were born into circumstances in which their choices seem much more limited or even non-existent. It is for that very reason that my choices are so important. Will I make them holding the vision of us all as one? Or will I make them holding a more self-focused vision? Will I take the luxuries I do have for granted and so squander them?

I will not give myself that luxury. Instead, no matter whether or not you doubt me and my intelligence or wonder whether I am genuine, I will focus on sending what love and peace I have to offer to those who might need it. I will take a deeper look at my relationship with our precious resources. I will pause and choose kindness over unkindness. I will look another in the eye and know that we are one and that what I do or say to him or her; I do and say to myself, to you, to my children, to my loved ones, to all.  I will love the universe with all the love I have to offer and live in wonder of the beauty that it is. I will live with peace as best I can in each moment. I will do all this knowing that I am imperfect and so may live it imperfectly. However, if there is even the smallest chance that one of those choices will change our course for the better, then I don’t have the luxury of doubt. 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Storm of Love and Peace

In the wake of such devastation as that left behind by Typhoon Haiyan there seems so little that we can do to make any impact on those living with the consequences of the storm. The conditions people are facing in the Philippines are unimaginable to most of us.  And really why would you want to imagine something like that happening in your community? It’s horrifying. But perhaps we have to try to imagine so we can begin to grasp what they are dealing with, so we can truly have compassion for the people impacted by the storm. It’s possible that up to 10,000 people were killed by the power of the storm, 10,000 men, women and children, old and young, rich and poor; wind and water don’t discriminate the way we do. The town where I have spent the last 16 years has a population of around 27,000. It’s impossible to imagine that almost half of them could be lost in one day to one storm. Yet, the people of the Philippines don’t have to imagine it; they have to live with it. How does a community cope with that kind of loss? I can’t begin to imagine.

What I can imagine is what I can do. So what can we do? Sending thoughts and energy of love and peace seems inconsequential in these circumstances. But here’s the thing, and granted it’s a what if. What if they could actually feel that love and peace, really, truly feel it? What if we sent our own force of nature, a force so great they could feel its touch just as they could feel the winds of Haiyan? Only in this case they would feel the gentle touch of love upon their cheek, the soothing, tender hand of peace upon their shoulder. Neither love nor peace would make the water they’re drinking clean, it would not bring back the loved ones they have lost, it would not put food on their plates, or rebuild their houses, but it would let them know something they might very much need right now. It would let them know they are not alone. As lost and bereft as their souls may feel right now, they are not alone. We are with them and we are with them with love in our hearts and peace in our actions. What if they could feel that wash over them instead of water and wind? At the very least it would quiet their hearts and at best it would give them hope for healing. For while love can’t bring back what was lost, it can heal and it can rebuild and it can unite. While peace can’t calm the seas it can calm the people, allowing them to work together to find solutions for all.

So yes, let’s send money and aid and medical supplies, but let us also send love and peace. While the devastation left by the storm is unimaginable, let’s make the power of love and peace not only imaginable but visible in the lives of those impacted by Typhoon Haiyan. Let’s help them imagine what may be unimaginable to them right now – there is hope enough, there is love enough, there is peace enough to heal and rebuild their lives.

From wherever you are tonight at 6:30pm EST, join me in meditation, in imagining the not so unimaginable – the people of the Philippines touched by the love and peace we are sending, the people of the Philippines feeling us there with them in their sorrow, holding them with compassion as they mourn and standing with them as they open their eyes to a new day with hope for healing.  I will meet you there.