Being a Nurse

Oh Great Spirit, who watches over us all, from the tiniest single-celled organism to the magnificent artic wolf, please place me where I can be of most help to others today.  My heart is heavy with the suffering of my fellow humans, and our weary earth.  I know people can be demanding, and my desire to help can make that stressful, but please help me to be gentle with those I serve and and with myself.  We are all struggling to make sense of the life you have graciously given us.  We all suffer feelings of disconnection, and still, there are many moments of joy.  Something in us is restless with need, a need we reach to fill with so many things that cause us harm.  Help us to know that our connection to You is where the true healing is.  Help us to know the same about our connection to each other, black to white;  every color to every other; every worshipping Muslim praying to Allah, every Hindu placing flowers on their altars; those who find you in nature, hearing your breath in the touch of wind on their ear; each Christian, Buddhist, Agnostic or Atheist; please find the grace you instilled in each of us upon conception and help us to extend it to one another.

In my weak, miserly state, help me to find Your strength flowing in my veins and give the Great Love You created in me to those I serve.  I am only one nurse, but help me provide comfort to those hurting in body and soul who are in my care today.  Help me to be gracious to all the others I work with, and in thoughts of my family while I am separate from them.  Let me be an example of how You and our mindfulness of Your presence can give us all hope.  Great Spirit, help me to say “Yes” to each moment, as Tara Brach has written, and find Your perfect living light in each being I have the privilege to see.

I bow in deep gratitude to Your wisdom, knowing already You are working within me to transform what is limited and feels so small, into a soul steeped in gratitude and love for every aspect of your creation.  Blessings to all sentient beings, and to all You have brought into being.  Namaste’.

 

And did you get what you wanted from this life?

Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I respect Tara Brach, a psychotherapist and Buddhist teacher of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington D.C..  I listen to her podcasts as often as I can, and find them immensely comforting.  I don’t know who wrote the poem I quote below.  It had a profound impact on me though, and that is the point of putting it in this blog.  There are people who seem to dance through life, never questioning their right to a place on this over-populated world.  I envy them that feeling.  One of my biggest issues with the way Christianity has been co-opted and perhaps mistranslated over the years is the idea that we are all imperfect, even “bad”.  Certain denominations are more damning about the message than others.  The greatest spiritual poets I know always felt “beloved on this earth.”  There was no denying anyone else’s “right” to a place in heaven, whether gay or straight, whatever color or creed, and that union with the beloved was seen as our natural, true birthright.  The struggle of my life, and the idea that has lead to my worst self-destructive impulses come from the idea that I am flawed, sinful, ugly in the sight of God, and not deserving of love.  Not all of that came from the church.  Some came from genetics, some from parents with good intentions doing their best to form me into a model of loving kindness.  However I cannot stop running into a brick wall, so much so that I’ve lost access to memories, that love of self has to be the basis for loving others.  I know it’s a self-help cliche’, but it’s a reality for me.  I blame myself for all my children’s suffering, for the suffering of anyone who knows me, yet take no ownership of the love I give or it’s importance.

As you can see, there is a lot of work to be done with my head, and my heart.  What about you?  Have you gotten what you wanted from this life?  In a time where greed has brought the world to it’s knees and so many of us have to worry about just having food and a place to live, a job, income – have you gotten what you wanted from this life?  I’m still seeking to find that lightness of feeling “beloved on the earth.”  It will require breaking my heart, facing fears that are overwhelming, and yet if I truly want to be of help to others, I see no other option for myself.  I have to find my way through the maze of self-hatred and delusion to the heart of the Beloved, a heart that is also my own.  I bow to Tara Brach, and am so indebted to her teaching, as I am to Susan Piver, Pema Chodron, Jack Kornfield, and so many other Buddhist teachers, as well as Christians who’ve had the courage to teach the REAL doctrine of Christ.  Love yourself, make the pursuit of love your highest calling.  I believe that is what Jesus truly called us to do and why he was considered so radical and dangerous.  People who are taught to love themselves have the hearts of warriors, and will defend their fellow humans at complete risk to themselves.  What could be more radical than that?  May you feel beloved on the earth this day, and may the spirit as you know it touch your heart and your life with all the love that you were intended to have at birth.  Blessings and joy to you, Namaste’.

Late Fragment

And did you get what you wanted from this life even so?

I did.

And what did you want?  To call myself Beloved.

To feel myself Beloved on the earth.

Alec (a deceased member of IMCW, whose last name Tara didn’t mention)

Also reported to be a poem by Raymond Cheever on Poem Finder

Why I love Taylor Swift

You have to be hard-hearted, or not have one, to not like/love Taylor Swift, even if you don’t like country music.  I started this post BEFORE I knew she was taking a young man with leukemia to the ACM awards (rather than his prom because of her schedule).  I started this post after listening to a beautiful dharma talk by Tara Brach.  She retold a story from a magazine called “The Sun“, which we both love. (www.thesunmagazine.org/ )  She didn’t list the issue or date of  the story, but parts of it rang true so deeply in my heart.  While it is too long to recount the whole story here, the podcast was Part 2 – Trusting Your Basic Goodness, 01/18/2012.  In it Tara reads the words of a woman who writes, “My Mother always assured me that unspeakable punishments were bound to befall any child as naughty as I was.  ‘If I were you,’ She said, ‘I’d be afraid to go to sleep at night for fear that God would strike me dead.'” She continues, “I thought myself unloved and unlovable, not only by my own mother, but by God himself.”   This was a woman who found out that in the private school she was kicked out of, she had the highest IQ, but the lowest grades.  She then writes what she heard as the most devastating words that her mother ever spoke to her.  The police had just brought her home from an attempt at running away (there were many), so she said “it was bad timing on my part.”  What she asked her mother was, “Do you love me?”  Her mother’s answer was, “How could anyone ever love you?”  The woman said it took her 50 years to heal from these words and the other ugliness her mother spoke to her.  I can’t help but think of my own gifted, wonderful, yet flawed father saying something similar to me.  These are words that become seared into your soul like a brand on a horse, and trying to get them to go away is like major surgery;  many of us never recover.

The main point of  Tara’s talk was our essential goodness.  What a concept!  Essential “goodness?”  Maybe essential badness, but goodness?  I think of all the artists, so gifted and talented that we have lost over decades, and this is what I believe separates Taylor from so many of them and their tragic ends.  Her Mother and Father raised her to believe she was essentially “good.”  This is rare, so rare it is worth not only a blog post but a book!  Many, if not most of us, are raised to believe we are bad.  We can try to work with therapists, with prayer, with meditation, but it’s difficult.  We’re working with a nervous system that tells us we are under threat.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiger or a person who interupts your acceptance speech for an award.  When you also grow up with words that cut your very being to fragments of detached, damaged selves trying to integrate into some kind of wholeness, it becomes almost impossible to put the pieces back together.  Why would you even want to?

Watching any video of Taylor on tour, you see the deep and complete support she gets from her mother, father, her whole family (which includes her band).  Watch the video she made to go with her song for her Mom (“The Best Day”) and you can see how she was cherished – what a precious gift!!  I know my mother cherished me, even saw me as “saving” her life at a bad point in her  marriage.  My dear, departed father is another story.  On some level I know he loved me, but he also hated me for reasons I can’t begin to understand.

People may think Taylor naive, an innocent, someone bound to become cynical at some point, but I don’t.  As I watch her I find hope, for myself and for many of us who find it so hard to love ourselves.  I see a young woman who still finds wonder in the sunrise, in blowing bubbles, in things that “shine.”  I pray that she can keep that quality forever because it is a priceless gift.  Bless you Taylor, and your brother, and your parents who took the time to show you how deep and enduring their love and God’s is for you.  May the road you are travelling bring you joy, blessings and peace.  You are a unique and amazing young woman and a talented musician.  We lift you, your fans, with our love – but more importantly, you love yourself.  Don’t ever let that go.  Namaste‘.