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This week I am pondering courage
as I watch friends who are facing into ultimate un-safety
and continuing to move forward breath by breath, step by step.
I am privileged to have enormously courageous companions
to inspire my own courage.
Some of those companions I have never met
except through their words or deeds…
people like Lao Tzu who says this,
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,
while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
We will face monsters;
we will die;
we will do almost impossible things
for someone we love.
How wide is your circle of love?
[There is something about this scratched and broken Mary in a tiny roadside shrine in Ireland that invites me to stand firm in whatever life brings.]
Why is it that I am waiting around to make
some kind of cosmic impact
on the situation in which I find myself?
Wouldn’t it make sense to make small changes now
rather than waiting for ‘someday’?
Let’s all start using our turn signals consistently.
We could share our intentions with one another
rather than behaving as if we are the only folks on the road.
It’s a way of practicing relationship. Yes?
[Note to Self: Living in a bubble is safe,
but it is also pretty disconnected…which is part of what got us here.]
It is my humble observation that most of the people I know
are walking around as if they are shell-shocked.
There is a wariness that would serve us well if we were
hunting saber-tooth tigers or woolly mammoths,
but probably is not best suited
to re-engaging with one another in a positive way.
So I offer this prayer of protection as a ritual to start each day.
May it bring comfort and blessing, warmth and confidence.
I enfold myself
in the nine protections of nature
stillness of rabbit,
vision of owl,
speed of cheetah,
roots of oak,
flexibility of birch,
enclosure of willow,
depth of ocean,
darkness of cave,
nurture of grain and grape.
These nine I draw about myself
in the face of danger,
in the confusion of fear,
in the time of violence.
Offering thanksgiving is
one of the most radically subversive acts
we can ever perform.
It refuses to collude in the worldly message
that nothing is enough;
we must always be seeking more.
So here is my thanksgiving for 2016:
I open my eyes to the blessing of awakening.
I open my lungs to the blessing of breath.
I lave myself in the blessing of water.
I set foot on the blessing of earth.
I open my lips to the blessing of sustenance.
I open my hands to the blessing of generosity.
I open my heart to the blessing of love.
I open my ears to the blessing of stranger.
I open my arms to the blessing of friendship.
I open my soul to the blessing of compassion.
I sain this moment.
I sain this breath.
I sain this food.
I sain my being as sanctuary for those in need.
[NOTE: To sain is to bless or sanctify.]
Loving Past Fear
Lauren Oliver wrote a book called Delirium,
about a society that ‘cures’ love when people turn 18
in order to avoid all the pain and chaos and unpredictability of loving.
But the protagonist falls in love at 17 and says this,
You can build walls all the way to the sky
and I will find a way to fly above them.
You can try to pin me down with a hundred thousand arms,
but I will find a way to resist.
And there are many of us out there, more than you think.
People who refuse to stop believing.
People who refuse to come to earth.
People who love in a world without walls,
people who love into hate, into refusal, against hope, and without fear.
I love you. Remember. They cannot take [that away.]
This is our mandate moving into 2017:
‘to love into hate, into refusal, against hope, and without fear.’
On this day in 1940, the Nazis began
walling off the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw.
Leaving aside the Holocaust Deniers, we all know how that turned out.
I remind us of this not to cast us further into despair or depression,
but to invite us to remember that walls are rarely of benefit
either to those walled in or those walled out.
Walls tend to be lose-lose propositions:
we lose relationship,
we lose humanity,
we lose freedom,
we lose vision.
Robert Lentz, the brilliant contemporary iconographer,
has written an icon called “Christ of Maryknoll”
(in honor of the Maryknoll Missioners
who tend to the ‘least’ around the world).
I invite you to look at it HERE
and notice where Christ is standing.
You can also see Brother Robert speaking about the icon HERE.
Let’s hold this image in our mind
when we hear talk of a wall on our southern border….
or when we begin to wall off our hearts from one another.
It is my observation that 96.3% of the people I know
have issues with control
(as in, they want to be in control…
pretty much all the time.)
I include myself in that 96.3% – just so you don’t think I am judging.
Thomas Merton (who knew something about control)
offers us some wisdom.
I think we should pay attention because the next four years
are going to be really really really long if we can never let go.
You do not need to know precisely what is happening,
or exactly where it is all going.
What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges
offered by the present moment,
and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.
Text © 2016, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2011, 2015, 2016 Immram Chara, LLC