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I went to San Francisco. And yes, I wore flowers in my hair. I was one of those young beaded, bell-bottomed kids who moved to California in the late 1960s, drawn by the irresistible call for “Love, Peace, and Flower Power.” 2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the famous San Francisco “Summer of Love.” Hard to believe that that much time has passed. In some ways, I still feel the same inside as I did when I left the Midwest for California, suitcase packed with utopian dreams. I still have those dreams. And I’m still a flower child at heart.
Some Native Americans use the term "Great Mystery" to refer to the concept of God or Source energy. It’s such a wonderful usage because within it, humans step back and allow the unknown to be just that—unknown. Many religions spell out the specific attributes of God, the heavenly realm, and its relation to living beings on Earth, including sets of rigid moral codes and laws/commandments. How much more open-ended is the idea of a mystery that we will never understand with the human mind. Our hearts can experience God or the Divine, but we cannot solve the enigma of existence. Perhaps the greatest wisdom lies in acknowledging that and allowing the Mystery to live within and through us without trying to understand it.
Background: In some Buddhist traditions, the monks take part in a practice that would appear odd and repulsive to many: meditation on a corpse. The reasons behind what may seem like macabre behavior are two-fold: 1) to overcome one’s aversion to death and the loss of the physical body; and 2) to realize that the external aspects of the physical form are not who we truly are. It apparently has a powerful affect on the monks who practice it.
At the end of January, I flew cross-country for a spiritual gathering in California. On the six-hour flight, for some reason I suddenly remembered that Buddhist practice and thought that perhaps my strong aversion to Donald Trump would make a good focus for a similar meditation (picturing him alive, not dead!). I closed my eyes and began. I didn’t feel much of anything for a while, but then slowly a softening began to occur within me as I pictured his face—a movement to a greater non-reactiveness. A remembrance that beneath every physical form there is a soul. These weren’t conscious insights—more like an opening of a closed door within.
Every time you write, you are expressing something about yourself, sending a vibration, either a faint, half-hearted one or a full-on, authentic blast of your soul self. Whether it’s an email, a social media post, or an article or book intended for publication, it is filled with your vibes—clear and forthright or vaguely uncertain. In the world of vibration and perceived intent, writing is the same as speaking. We are announcing who we are in the world with every word we utter, out loud or in cyberspace. The question is: How truthful are we when we speak/write? True to ourselves, that is.
Since I am a gardener, I am outdoors a lot of the time in the spring, summer, and early fall. As I plant and take care of my flowers in the yard, I often see neighbors walking their dogs. All kinds of dogs: labs, Scotties, pit bulls, schnauzers, pugs, huskies, terriers. Some are intent on their “appointed rounds” through the neighborhood, sniffing every tree and bush and not that interested in the occasional human gardener. Others, however, are absolutely thrilled to encounter another human besides the one at the other end of their leash.
Two dogs in particular come to mind: a small white terrier named Honus and a large black lab named Maggie. One morning, as I was on my hands and knees pulling weeds in the front border, I heard a kind of whining panting sound immediately behind me. I turned, and there was Honus, straining to get to me, at the absolute end of his leash, as his person tried to keep him contained. He was still a bit of a puppy then, waggling all over, his eyes sparkling with excitement and the overriding desire to get close enough to greet me with licks and touches. Who could resist such intensely focused friendliness? I immediately fell in love with Honus. Every single time I’ve seen him after that initial encounter, he has behaved exactly the same: so excited to see me, this human crawling around on the ground at his level. He is always stretching to get to me before I hear him, turn around, and then reach out to pet and talk to him. It’s a huge gift that makes me happy all day.
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