All is well and all is not well. We are fine and we are not fine. These realities can be true at the same time. . . As we enter this week in the US of celebrating Thanksgiving, a holiday of great thanks and great pain, I find myself desiring to honor all of it.
Many of you, like me, till the soil of giving thanks and foster gratitude throughout the year. Even still, these rhythms and traditions are important to engage on our own and together. Our individual thanks released into our personal atmosphere can create a shift in the climate surrounding us, aiding in the digestion of that which can otherwise feel like too much. Our collective thanks released into the atmosphere can create a shift in the collective climate on a broader scale, providing much needed sustenance for all.
I am so grateful for much. I have access to shelter, clothes, and healthy food. I have the ability to work remotely, shelter in place, and limit my exposure to the virus. I have a spiritual tradition that bolsters and steadies me in troubled times. I am surrounded by others whom I love and love me. I could carry on indefinitely. And I am acutely aware of my privilege. Giving thanks and gratitude are an important part of cultivating resilience and tending to ourselves, something I talk often about. We remain in unknown waters and many humans do not have the emotional, spiritual, or physical resources to navigate the tumultuousness of this. Each one of us can use this time to continue to cultivate an interior reservoir that springs from the well of the Divine so that we can be repositories of living water for those around us who are parched and yearning for a drink.
To honor the pain of Thanksgiving, I can also allow an internal posture of remorse. Remorse for being asleep to certain truths around me and within me. In the wisdom tradition, remorse is a moment of seeing and taking responsibility without shame or blame, without justification or deflection. It is a capacity that derives from our whole being and in an instance it bears the fragrance of forgiveness and humility.
This week I have an experience of remorse for the ways I benefit from a colonized nation, the ways I judge others who have different values and ways of seeing the world. I offer that remorse up that it may be a part of bringing that which has been in the collective shadow and pain body into the collective light and body of salve. I want to turn toward it with all the gentleness and grace and compassion and mercy that abounds. I want to carry a piece of our collective pain body in order to lighten the suffering in some small way.
Last week I invited you to ponder what this season is asking of you right now. Are you to trust as you wait in the unknown? Are you to re-organize and re-evaluate your life and make some much needed changes? How might you want to enter the holiday season more awake and with presence? Continue to stay with that pondering this Thanksgiving week. Take note of what you are grateful for and how genuine remorse may be emerging. And allow it all to be infused in the womb like qualities of compassion and mercy. May your mind be open. May your heart be wide. May your body be at ease. May you re-member yourself.
Here are a some of the readings from this week: ‘On Joy and Sorrow’ by Kahlil Gibran Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow. And he answered: Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced. When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.” “There is no need, no order to increase your perfection, to go back and feed your faculties by contemplating the qualities of your being... [but simply by] offering up to God that simple awareness of the substance of your being.” - An anonymous fourteenth century English monk Gospel of Philip, Analogue 30 If a pearl is cast into the mud it does not lose its value, nor does it have any greater value if it is rubbed with ointment. It is of immense worth to its owner no matter what befalls it at any time. So it is with the sons and daughters of God, regardless of what happens to them they are held as precious in the Father's heart. "Meditate every day. In the stillness, you will find your true being. In the silence you will hear the breathing of your soul - and of God.” - Neale Donald Walsh Gospel of Thomas, Logion 24 His disciples said: "Show us the place where you are, because it is necessary for us to seek it. He said to them: “Whoever has ears should hear! Light exists inside a person of light, and [the person] shines on the whole world. If [the person] does not shine, there is darkness.” "Who I truly am is a being of light......For a being of light, what you are right this very moment is all you have. It is in the presence of this moment, and only in the presence of this moment, that we can be where we are, that we can be ourselves, that we can be real. It is as simple as that.......So what is freedom? Freedom is, I know that whatever happens in each moment is, and always will be, fine. We are comfortable with whatever is because we don't have a rigid sense of what we are, who we are, what kind of experience is supposed to happen or what is possible. What can we recognize then, about our ego-created sense of self that limits our freedom to be ourselves and to live truly in the moment?" - A.H. Almaas
With love, Heather