Some reflections from Brother Roger of Taize who I once met when I spent a silent retreat there. He was a good and kindly man, and outlines here an approach which can shape our whole attitude to this day and to life:
Are there realities which make life beautiful
and of which it can be said that they bring a kind of fulfillment, an inner joy?
Yes, there are. And one of these realities bears the name of trust.
Do we realize that what is best in each of us is built up through a simple trusting?
This is something even a child can do.
Br Roger of Taize
In Buddhism, a definition of faith is the ability to keep our hearts open in the darkness of the unknown. The root of the word patience is a Latin verb for “suffer,” which in the ancient sense meant to hold, not to grasp but to bear, to tolerate without pushing away. Being patient doesn’t mean being passive. It means being attentive, willing to be available to what is happening, going on seeing, noticing how things change. When we aren’t wishing for something to be over, or when we aren’t freezing around an idea about what it is we are seeing, we see and hear more. We notice that nature has cycles, that each day is not the same length and quality, and that darkness passes. The meaning of life, the real purpose of our presence here, is being attentive, being willing to go on seeing and keeping our hearts open — not just for our sake but for the sake of others. We make ourselves available to life, opening our hearts to the passing flow of it, knowing we will blunder and get it wrong but sometimes right.
Tracy Cochran (with thanks to make believe boutique)
If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it;
tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches;
for to the creator there is no poverty
Rainer Maria Rilke
Whenever I stopped long enough to reflect on such questions as “Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose?” the answer seemed pretty clear. I actually found it long ago in some lines by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, words I’ve quoted often because they’ve served me so well as a kind of north star, timeless wisdom by which to navigate:
“Ours is not the task
of fixing the whole world at once
but of stretching out to mend
the part of the world that is within our reach”
Katrina Kenison, Mending the world
One reason we strengthen our awareness in meditation is to see more clearly the patterns laid down in our childhood, how we believe these to be our personality and the limiting stories which they often tell us about our abilities.
According to neuroscience, even before events happen the brain has already made a prediction about what is most likely to happen, and sets in motion the perception, behaviors, emotions, physiologic responses and interpersonal ways of relating that best fit with what is predicted. In a sense, we learn from the past what to predict for the future and then live the future we expect.
Regina Pally, The Predicting Brain
The dream of my life
is to lie down by a slow river
and stare at the light in the trees –
To learn something by being nothing
a little while but the rich
lens of attention
Mary Oliver, Entering the Kingdom