Friday, August 18, 2017

One Moment in Time

Wednesday, a friend and I talked about the upcoming solar eclipse. We live within the total-eclipse path that stretches across twelve states—from Salem, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina. Those outside that path will observe a partial eclipse; here in Kansas City it will be total. At 1:09 PM, on Monday, August 21, the sky here will darken to night for two minutes and thirty-four seconds.

As we spoke, Zoe shared her thoughts about the possibilities the eclipse offered. As I remember, she brought up what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday, August 18, 2017. There chanting white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists marched with candles raised high. The night-time scene was reminiscent of many Klan blitzkriegs that ended in the death of black men. This march resulted in three deaths and thirty-four injuries. Decades, centuries of hatred, fear of being replaced, and hunger for power led to this homegrown terrorist violence.

Zoe went on to say that the Virginia violence resulted from human action. Humans caused it. But humans will do nothing to cause this eclipse. It is a phenomenon of nature. She believes that the fact that all of us here in the United States will view a partial or a total eclipse that is a natural—not human—happening could unite us, if only for a minute or two.

For two minutes, she said, we as one will view a rarity not of our making. Within that occurrence, there is no white or black, no heterosexual or bisexual or gay or lesbian or transgender, no Jew or Christian or Muslim or atheist, no pro-choice or pro-life, no poor or rich, no homeless or mansion dweller, no leader or follower, no peacemaker or terror-maker.

There is only all of us observing wonder—all of us being part of an astounding natural experience. Nothing will divide us during that time. We all—as one—will have the same awe-inspiring experience.

When we ended our conversation, I continued to ponder. I’m not a philosopher nor a deep thinker, but I do want to follow Micah’s words in the Hebrew Testament: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (I don’t really use the word God any more as a personal being. I say “Holy Oneness of All Creation,” hoping to gather all of us into the word God.)

I thought of those white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, those violent iconoclasts who fight for ISIS, and all those who seem to embrace hate at the deep center of themselves. In what way, could I act justly toward them? Here are the three things I can do right now from my home:

1.     During those two minutes and thirty-four seconds, as I gaze upward through my solar glasses, I’m going to send out into the Universe my deep desire that each of us—no matter our background—will begin to discover the depth of love that conquers fear and hatred, intolerance and rigidity. I am going to envision a world at peace—for however brief the moment.

2.     I’m going to remember daily and hourly that everything begins with one. One person gives peace to another. Tiny drops of water become One in the ocean of being. 

3.   I'm going to live that motto of the Southern Poverty Law Center: I will fight hate; teach tolerance; and seek justice as I live the rest of my life.


(Zoe, if I misrepresent what you said, please leave a comment and correct my memory.)

Photograph from NASA.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Peace Shattered by an Alert

For the past two weeks, I’ve experienced a situation that threatened my inner peace. My contentment. This posting recounts the highlights of the saga!  

About three weeks ago, I signed up to use an alert system. Because of the vertigo caused by Meniere’s Disease and because my compromised vision has affected my balance, I opted for a “fall” pennant to wear around my neck. It would alert the company if I fell and perhaps became unconscious and so couldn’t press the recessed button. I could also press the button if I needed other medical help.

The box with the equipment—help monitor with aerial, fall pennant, regular pennant, wrist pennant, and lockbox—arrived a week later. However, before I even opened the box to activate the system, three firemen showed up at my door at 7:00 am because they’d received an alert. Relieved that I was okay, they were puzzled by an alert from an un-activated system.

That afternoon, my sister-in-law activated the system for me. However, the problem persisted. Within the next ten days, I received seven calls from the company saying they’d gotten an alert from my home. Was I okay?

Each time, I told them I was fine and that I’d pressed no button. In fact, I wasn’t even wearing the pennant. I’d laid it flat on a table with a ceramic cup over it so that it wouldn’t be accidentally jostled by one of the cats.

I felt as if I were living with a time bomb.

At any time, whether I was in the house or not, some ghost, goblin, or poltergeist might press the button. Or . . . more likely . . . a piece of defective equipment might go off. If I weren’t in the house to answer the call from the alert company, the firemen would show up. If that happened more than twice, I’d be paying an extra fee.

Daily I feared getting a call during the early hours of the morning and not hearing it. Because of Meniere’s, I’m deaf in my left ear. So if I sleep on my right ear, I can’t hear the phone. If the company called to say they’d gotten an alert, I wouldn’t hear the phone ringing. The company would then call the fire station. That’s what happened when the unopened box was on my kitchen table. I didn’t want it happening again. So my sleep became restless.

Midway through the two-week period, I endeavored to cancel the service, but I let the rep convince me that all would be well. Yet nothing changed.

So this past Saturday morning, after being awakened at 1:10 am with an alert, I canceled the contract. I’ve sent back the equipment and, after mailing it, shouted “Free at last! Free at last!” as I reentered my home. Last night I slept well with no worry that I’d be receiving a card to interrupt my dreaming.

The idea of an alert now that I have more physical problems was a good one—but the actuality stressed my life. I’m now trusting that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be exceedingly well” as Julian of Norwich said so many centuries ago. Her words got me through Meniere’s. They will, I trust, be with me as I journey into an older and older version of Dee Ready.

That experience left be bereft of contentment for two weeks. During that time a maelstrom of emotions swept through me: frustration, anger, tiredness, confusion, exasperation. I also felt a great deal of trepidation, but little genuine contentment. It’s contentment that I hope to write about next week. Peace.

Photograph from Wikipedia

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Wellspring of Peace

From the comments you’ve left for the past few peace postings, it’s clear that the majority of us have a hard time believing world peace is possible. Most of us seem to find humans prone to the greed of wanting more—more power, more land, more adherence to a rigid ideology. Because of that, world peace seems totally elusive.

As I’ve pondered the possibility of peace, I’ve concluded that each of us has an inner shadow—the shadow perhaps of becoming at times intolerant, judgmental, hateful. Sometimes, because of the depth of this shadow we consider ourselves separate from a group called “other.”

We demand that others become like us. We seem to want to be the standard for all. For example: I do not understand those who continue to follow President Trump’s leadership. So I’ve moved into “them” and “me” thinking, and I’m noting only differences. Given this flaw within me—this seeming necessity to choose exclusivity—the possibility of world peace seems impossible.

So I want to muse today, not on world, but on inner peace. That is, let’s start with ourselves for that will lead, I believe, ultimately, to wholeness. When we are at peace, we can share it with others. Then inner peace can spread one to another so that slowly—millennia slowly—peace enters each and all of us.

I believe love is the wellspring of peace. For decades I found myself to be so flawed that I, at times, despised myself. I had no love for the Dee Ready of grade school or the teenage years or the convent years. No love for the Dee Ready who left the convent and moved numerous times, always running from the image she had of herself.

Finding within myself only darkness, I became desperate for someone or something to shed light within my spirit, my soul. I wanted to like myself, but couldn’t. I found no good to love or like. I found only traits and emotions that seemed despicable to me. I didn’t want to claim them or have them be part of my make-up.

Then, when I was in my forties, I was able, with the help of a psychiatrist, to find the deep-down goodness within me. I came to realize that goodness dwelt amidst other traits and emotions that to my idealistic self had seemed negative. In truth these unloved traits sometimes came to the fore of my actions, but never as the essence of who I was.

It was only when I accepted the wholeness of who I was that I could love myself. And it is only when we love ourselves—flawed as we are—that we can love others—flawed as they may be.

So I believe that if I am to pass peace to another, I must be at peace within myself. At peace with my own shadow. At peace with my occasional disgruntlement. At peace with my feelings of anger or pain or hurt or sorrow. All of that is me. I encompass the world of emotion.

The world—with its greed and bias and hatred—is within me. I hope it’s mostly a light shadow after all these years. But it is there. I want to acknowledge that there is no “them” and “me.” There is only all of us struggling as we journey toward wholeness.

Yet even when I do fall into the trap of intolerance, I want to say, “Dee, you’re only human. Be gracious to yourself. Love yourself. Love others. Give the gift of peace daily.” When I love myself, flawed as I am, I am able to love others, flawed as they are. Then, and only then, can I give true peace to others.

This cycle is endless and constantly it needs to be renewed by a vow to give peace that is enveloped by love. That’s why I find myself saying the following affirmation each day, especially as I watch the evening news: “The president of the United States is growing more mature, more worthy of his position, and more presidential each and every day.”

I’d like to end with a hope that all of you love yourselves as you are today. Love both lightness and darkness within you, trusting that light slowly embraces dark, welcomes it, and redeems it. Peace.