“In every religious tradition there is a practice of devotion and a practice of transformation . . .Thich Nhat Hanh in Living Buddha, Living Christ
Devotion means trusting more in ourselves and in the path we follow. Transformation means to practice the things this path imposes on us.”
“. . . it’s not the child’s responsibility to teach the parent who they are. It’s the parent’s responsibility to learn who the child is . . .”From “R2, Where Are You?” by Tig Notaro in All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown edited by Catherine Burns
Right after we returned from dropping our son at the train station for travel to his final university semester, I sat down to indulge in some morning reading time. That’s when I found the quote above.
Our son is about to finish his studies, but he’s not sure what he wants to do after. As parents, we want to pick him up like when he was a child and set him down in what we think is his safe, right place. But we can’t.
We have to watch and learn as he sorts out what works for him.
Our daughter graduated last June and is still searching for more solid ground under her feet too. As parents, we want to pick her up like when she was a child and set her down on what we think is her safe, right path. But we can’t.
We have to watch and learn as she sorts out what works for her.
After reading the quote I sipped my coffee, stared out the window and contemplated how often parents impose—or try to impose—inappropriate behaviours, activities, careers, clothing or partners on a child because they haven’t learned who their child is.
How often that imposition breaks the relationship.
Telling our kids what to do with their lives feels so much like the right thing to do because we have their best interests at heart, after all, and we want to save them the pain of mistakes.
Sharing the wisdom of our experience is a right thing, but it’s not the best right thing.
The better right thing—our responsibility—is learning who they are.
Are you a half full or half empty kind of person?
Perhaps an impartial view is best? The glass is neither half full or half empty; it just is.
No matter how you see your glass, it is yours to do with as you wish. You can choose to drink from it and savour the contents, or empty it and fill it with something else, or add something to it to make it more interesting.
Your 2019 New Year glass is here, and there’s one thing it’s full of: potential.
Savour it. Fill it up. Make it interesting.
“Each of us is raised with a sense of ‘us and them.’ Initially the ‘us’ is just family, and everyone else is ‘them.’ As we get older and more experienced, more and more people join the ‘us’ but there is usually still a ‘them.’ …
Once in orbit, though, with time to not only work but to gaze at the world over a period of months, I noticed my perception shifting. As I sent pictures to the ground and commented on them, I found myself unthinkingly referring to everyone as ‘us.’ …
I would see a city that I knew well and just 30 minutes later, see that exact same pattern of settlement in a city I had never heard of. It forced me to face the commonality of the human experience, and our shared hopes and desires.”Chris Hadfield in An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
“I raise the pipe of my being to the rising sun in openness and humility.”Richard Wagamese in Embers
About a month ago, I participated in a book study about Richard Wagamese’s beautiful book Embers. That night the leader asked us to pick a line at random and answer a series of questions. The line at the top of the page was my line.
What words does it bring to mind?
The sacred pipe in Wagamese’s First Nation context is the pipe shared in a circle as part of community. It brought to mind blessing, cleansing, centering, sharing and accepting each other in community.
What does it remind you of?
It reminded me of the Hafiz quote from my last post and the poem I wrote for Jessie. “I am the hole in a flute that God’s breath moves through.”
What does it call you to do?
It calls me to be an instrument for co-creating using what nature provides. Using matter–the science–to create a beautiful story.
If I am a sacred pipe, I am blessing, cleansing, centering, sharing and accepting others in community. Passed from person to person in a circle, never-ending, with respect and with intention.
That was my line, brought to my attention just weeks before Jessie died. I send you out into the day to find your line. Choose a book you love, pick a line at random.
What words does it bring to mind? What does it remind you of? What does it call you to do?
Last week we travelled to the funeral of a friend who lived for 99 dynamic, gratitude-filled years.
During the service, the leader spoke about how Jessie made notes in her Bible beside meaningful passages.
“This is the day that God has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”Psalm 118:24
Beside that psalm, she had written, “I do! I do! I do!”
And she did.
Jessie had learned to persevere and find gratitude through the hardest times, including the loss of a spouse when she was a young mother of four children and, later, the death of one of those children.
Almost ten years ago when she turned 90, I wrote this poem to rejoice and be glad in a friend. It was inspired by this Hafiz quote.
“I am the hole in a flute that God’s breath moves through.”Hafiz
The wind blows, tentative at first
Gentle lullabies for new life
“I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”
Inkwells in school desks
Hopscotch and hide-and-seek.
The breath wafts, bright youthful notes
Transcending the Great Depression
“We Sure Got Hard Times Now”
Sweets a treasured treat.
The wind gusts, stronger and unbending
Rising above war years all too real
“Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye”
Silk stockings painted on
Evenings by the radio.
The breath carries, steady and assured
Young wife and mother in her home
“Teach Your Children”
Hands on feverish foreheads
Love disguised as irritation.
The wind slows, a sombre requiem
The loss of those far too young
“Paint It Black”
I heard the news
Hugs shared through hurt.
The breath renews, harmonious and healing
The first laugh after the pain
“A Brand New Day”
Looking to the future.
The breath moves, celebrating and dancing
Life not defined by age
“Never Grow Old”
The breath of God.