A dark companion

I am re-reading John O’Donohue’s book of blessings these days, reminding me of the key place that hospitality had in the Celtic spiritual tradition and see how that applies to the challenging moments of life, prompting me to see if I can create a space for growth to occur:

Now this dark companion has come between you.
Distances have opened in your eyes.
You feel that against your will
A stranger has married your heart.

Nothing before has made you
Feel so isolated & lost.

When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.

May you find in yourself
A courageous hospitality
Toward what is difficult,
Painful, & unknown.

May your fragile harvesting of this slow light
Help to release whatever has become false in you.
May you trust this light to clear a path
Through all the fog of old unease & anxiety
Until you feel arising within you a tranquility
Profound enough to call the storm to stillness.

May you keep faith with your body,
Learning to see it as a holy sanctuary
Which can bring this night-wound gradually
Toward the healing & freedom of dawn.

May you be granted the courage & vision
To work through passivity & self-pity,
To see the beauty you can harvest
From the riches of this dark invitation.

May you learn to receive it graciously,
And promise to learn swiftly
That is may leave you newborn,
Willing to dedicate your time to birth.

John O’Donohue, Blessing for a Friend, on the Arrival of Illness (extracts),  from Benedictus

Start over, each moment

The gift of remembering and binding time creates the illusion that the past stands to the present as agent to act, mover to moved.

Living thus from the past, with echoes taking the lead, we are not truly here, and are always a bit late to the feast

Alan Watts

Practicing happiness

More from Thich Nhat Hanh: we need to consciously practice joy in these Covid-19 times

We may think of joy as something that happens spontaneously. Few people realize that it needs to be cultivated and practiced in order to grow. Mindfulness is the continuous practice of deeply touching every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly present with your body and your mind, to bring harmony to your intentions and actions, and to be in harmony with those around you. We don’t need to make a separate time for this outside of our daily activities.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Our work for this month

As Sylvia Boorstein frequently reminds us, the moment in which the mind acknowledges ‘This isn’t what I wanted, but it’s what I got’ is the point at which suffering disappears. We are here now, the future is always  uncertain. Our practice is to stay grounded and be open to what arises in awareness

The practice of mindfulness is very simple.

You stop, you breathe, and you still your mind.

You come home to yourself so that you can enjoy the here and now in every moment

Thich Nhat Hahn, Silence

The preciousness of life

Move through life living from one moment to the other, wholly absorbed in the present, carrying with you so little from the past that your spirit could pass through the eye of a needle; as little distracted by the worries of the future as the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. You will be attached to no person or thing, for you will have developed a taste for the symphony of life. And you will love life alone with the passionate attachment of your whole heart and your whole soul and your whole mind and all your strength. You will find yourself traveling unencumbered and free as a bird in the sky, always living in the Eternal Now. And you will have found in your heart the answer to the question, “Master, what is it that I must do to get Eternal life?”
Anthony de Mello s.j., The Way to Love

Right now it’s like this

There is a lot in our current reality that we do not like,  or we would prefer to be different:

One point that Ajahn Sumedho would stress regularly, is that loving things is not the same as liking them. Having kindness for ourselves or for other beings is not the same as liking everything. We often come a cropper by trying to make ourselves like everything. This is a completely wrong approach. We’re not trying to like everything, rather we’re recognising that everything belongs. Everything is part of nature: the bitter as well as the sweet, the beautiful as well as the ugly, the cruel as well as the kindly. The heart that recognises that fundamentally everything belongs is what I would describe as being the heart of kindness, the essence of kindness. If we get that really clear within us, and begin to train ourselves to recognise it, we realise that we can cultivate this quality of radical acceptance.

Ajahn Amaro, Radical Acceptance