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Be gentle with yourselves.

Be gentle with yourselves. We are in the middle of a PANDEMIC, that is baseline. We are in the middle of polarized politics. We are reckoning with systemic radicalized trauma. This is not a season. This is where we are now and we are not going back to where we were. Be gentle with yourselves and each other. Lean into the work you are called to do and do it with surrendered presence and attention. We each need to tend to our little corner of the universe. If we all tend, then all will be tended to. Trust your small efforts done with great attention. Stay the course, do your best to tether yourself to your practices, to the teachings and teachers who draw forth the teachings inside you, and to your community. Draw near to the earth, it is part of our community as well. We may not be able to gather in the same way with our human communities but we can commune with our natural community and maybe we are even meant to cultivate these earth relationships more right now. Listen for the ways your ancestors and spiritual ancestors are wanting to support you now, and allow yourself to receive. This tumultuous place we are in is not going to let up any time soon. We must train ourselves to persevere and to find balance from the inside. We can draw on this beautiful relational web that we are part of and it can help us find our bearings and draw sustenance in unknown territory. We can keep growing and becoming. We can continue observing the unhelpful and false ways we show up in the world. We can wake up and begin to show up more fully on behalf of the whole. We are one. I’m glad to be in it with you. Please be gentle with yourselves in the contemplative pauses as well. My hope is that it is a time of grounding and settling for your being in the company of others. We didn't get into these tumultuous times on our own so we will likely not be able to support ourselves on our own. Self-reliance and independence are myths. You truly can come exactly as you are, you don't have to do it 'right' and you don't have to stay the whole time. If 20 minutes of silent meditation is intimidating, you can use the time to journal or reflect or breath or connect with your environment through your senses while in our collective relational field. You do not need to come from any particular religious tradition. You can be at ease and trust that you are welcome to arrive as you are.

Here are some of the readings from this week's 'pauses' for you to enjoy:

“You’re not human If you’re not outraged At how humans treat themselves, Each other, the innocent animals And the natural glorious world. You’re not divine Until you transmute your outrage Into precise burning Passionate compassion energy Lifting your calm wild voice tirelessly To protect the voiceless Honor justice Make ice-clear The structures of fear, hatred, and greed And proclaim the glory Of the Golden One. Kabir says: Your task is clear. Say the Name incessantly And let it build in you Unshakeable strength, The majesty of the Noble One That nothing can destroy or degrade." ― Kabir

"An individual is one who believes that [they are] operating as an autonomous particle. The person is the one who realizes, who starts from the fact that you belong to a relational field, inescapably. And it’s within this field that you both differentiate and grow. . . The person is aware of the higher collectivity as a source of orientation and nurturance. The individual is just doing [their] own thing.”

― Cynthia Bourgeault

"And this is why you cultivate contemplative practice. The more you intentionally turn inward, the more available the sacred becomes. When you sit in silence and turn your gaze toward the Holy Mystery you once called God, the Mystery follows you back out into the world. When you walk with a purposeful focus on breath and birdsong, your breathing and the twitter of the chickadee reveal themselves as a miracle. When you eat your burrito mindfully, gratitude for every step that led to the perfect combination of beans and cheese and tortilla - from grain and sunlight to rain and migrant labor - fills your heart and renders you even more inclined to be grateful. So you sit down to meditate not only because it helps you to find rest in the arms of the formless Beloved but also because it increases your chances of being stunned by beauty when you get back up. Encounters with the sacred that radiate from the core of the ordinary embolden you to cultivate stillness and simple awareness. In the midst of a world that is begging you to distract yourself, this is no easy practice. Yet you keep showing up. You are indomitable. You are thirsty for wonder."

― Mirabai Starr

“The open system lives in a kind of ‘alert disequilibrium’ that is able to receive input - reciprocal information exchange - from things outside itself, and this openness to the world, this openness to new input is always going to be destabilizing. . . And the way that a healthy system will incorporate this disequilibrium is by a series of micro-adjustments, so that the equilibrium you get is not the equilibrium of fixed, steady unchangingness, which is where everybody likes to look for. But it’s the capacity to constantly be adjusting and rebalancing, like you’re doing when you’re riding a bicycle, or skiing down a hill.”

― Cynthia Bourgeault

Warrior-Spirit Prayer of Awakening May all beings be granted with the strength, determination and wisdom to extinguish anger and reject violence as a way. May all suffering cease and may I seek, find and fully realize the love and compassion that already lives within me and allow them to inspire and permeate my every action. May I exercise the precious gift of choice and the power to change that makes me uniquely human and is the only true path to liberation. May I swiftly reach complete, effortless freedom so that my fearless, unhindered action be of benefit to all. May I lead the life of a warrior.

― Rev. angel Kyodo Williams

With Love, Heather


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