Sunday, August 16, 2009

Have I waited too long?

It is a common human failing of which I am a master. That is: I have waited too long to write, so now what I have to say is too big and too complicated to relate. Let me try to chip away at the edges and we will see what remains.

Sedona is overwhelming to the senses. I lived in Northern Arizona in the eighties (remember them?), and was happy to leave because I had a sense that the energy of the place was too much for me to manage. Twenty years later, I understand the futility and wrong-mindedness of trying to manage these forces. They are what they are; if I am easy with the place and with myself, the goodness of the energy will find a dwelling in my heart, and all else will fall away.

Last week I attended my first mid-week training at the Unity Church. It was a two hour intensive study of the Sunday lesson having to do with “High Mysticism”. Some of you are thinking: “Oh my God – he’s losing it!” You could not be more wrong, so stop it. My point in telling you this has more to do with the spectacular weather that accompanied the event. At sunset, the wind came up, blowing leaves and branches from their hold on bending limbs. Lightning struck the desert all around with thunder following so close it made you jump. Then the first big drenching rain of the summer; it tore at the windows while we sat inside and pondered the possibility of being even more alive.

The Navajo call these sudden storms a blessing. For me, that goes without saying. I remember the summer storms when I was a boy growing up in rural Indiana. The sky would turn green and my mother would round up the family to run to the basement and find safety from the imminent tornado. I loved the excitement of the drill, and some part of me, I suspect, regretted that the devastation never completely hit our home. But even more, I wanted to be on the porch with my Dad, who quietly watched the storm and did not fear the thunder and the lightning. He was fearless, compared to the rest of us, because he lived closer to God and to death, and so – feared neither.

The Buddha tells us to focus on “the out – breath” during our meditation, because that breath brings us just slightly closer to our source than does the "in – breath". When we no longer fear our dying, we may truly live. I’m not instructing anyone to swim with sharks or to play golf in a thunder storm. I am telling you to breathe deep, and to look for wonder in the smallest event.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Living in Grace

It's hot today, and the Phoenix newscasters have issued the necessary warnings for avoiding heatstroke and death. Of course it's not that hot in Sedona, but it's hot enough that I have retreated to the air conditioned comfort of my diminutive dining room to catch up on my my e-mail and continue my job search. Through my window I see only dog-walkers who have no choice but to give their pets a chance to relieve themselves; there's a lady I've seen before, khaki shorts and a straw hat, lagging behind an elderly spaniel, dutifull scooping its poop. That's love. I could really fall for a woman that followed me around like that. No . . . really.

I'm not looking for love, any more than I am looking for air. But, allowing for my frailties, I sometimes need to remind myself that I still need to open my mouth, and breath. That is to say, I am already immersed in love, if I can only realize the fact. I'm recalling the edict of Kahil Gibran to not say "God is in my heart" but instead, "I am in the heart of God." This brings me to one of the primary reasons for my pilgrimage to Sedona. I have always been conscious of the need to have a vibrant spiritual life, and increasingly conscious over the past few years that for me, a spiritual re-awakening is past due. In this town, there is no excuse to deny the need for spiritual well being.

So, on Sundays, I (literally) drive past the crystal shops, past the psychics and the fortune tellers, and past the animists and the urantia meetings, to get to the Unity church. And on Monday I'm still a little blissed out. It's a remarkable community, and my best wish is that I can bring something real to this group that might match a fraction of what they have given me already.

Still on the road to find out; more later.