Life Fully Lived

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Living on the edge of my comfort zone,
seeing how many hang-ups I still have,
wanting to embody perfection of patience,
compassion, understanding, self-restraint,
being confronted with human reality…
I feel the disappointment when I fail
and wonder if I can do better the next time.
After so many years of strengthening the habit
of reacting with anger
what can I realistically expect from myself now?
My loved ones are the most ruthless
at pointing out how far I have yet to go
and the least likely
to celebrate how far I’ve already come.
So there is the added disappointment
of wanting to be seen and heard
and not being met with the understanding
I so deeply long for.
Perhaps I can have compassion for all of us,
for the challenge of existing in an apparently
connected universe
while simultaneously living in the isolation
of one’s own imagined world.
This is the plight we all must navigate
and the gift we must all unwrap
if we are ever to experience
the bliss of divine union,
the peace of life fully lived.

One Day in Heaven

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Azure sky
blue-green water
soft white sand
gentle surf
sunshine warming
to the point of wanting the shade
of trees growing right on the beach
occasionally
a friendly cloud…
a walk to slabs of rock
baking in the sun
and warm tidal pools
to offer feet respite
from the burning heat…
hundreds of small crabs
scurrying over the rock
Families everywhere
meat grilling
Bob Marley tunes
amplified
for everyone to hear
Eating a wonderfully fresh salad
sipping sparkling water
watching my children play.
Goggles
diving down to the sandy bottom
feeling the cool water,
and then up again
into the warmth of the shallows.
One day at the Playa Blanca in Punta Leona
One day in Heaven.

This Universe

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I awoke at 5:30,
sat in quiet.
As I rose from my seat
I noticed the sun was rising too.
I got to wondering…
Does the sun meditate
on light and dark?
Being itself the source of light
can it know what it is?
It must see these illumined planets
circling around–
does the sun know
these heavenly bodies shine
because of its own light?
How can it know its utter vastness
without some mirror
to reveal it to itself?
Looking out into the infinite depths of space
does it wonder what it is
and where it’s from?
And to think
there are countless galaxies,
countless solar systems
stretching out into the endless
expanses of space,
space that dwarfs our sun
and renders it inconsequential
in this enormous universe.
And here I am,
a tiny speck
on one little spinning ball of dirt,
wondering, wondering
about this universe
where so little is known.

Vacation Meditation

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Ah, here we are.
We traveled quite far today,
from Baltimore to San Jose
in Costa Rica.
Now we are in Punta Leona
and it seems dreamlike
after this intensely busy day.
I was going on three hours of sleep
and I was feeling pretty crazy, I’ll admit,
as I rose at 3:20 am,
showered and sat for thirty minutes.
It was a good way to start this busy day
and I’m glad I prioritized my sit
over an extra hour of sleep.
We managed to make it here
and for that I am grateful.
I set up a spot to meditate
and could only make it through
about a third of the usual time.
I decided that this is okay.
I showed up for my self,
for my breath, for stillness,
and to offer compassion
to others.
As I sat, feeling so incredibly tired,
I realized I could show compassion
toward myself
and end the meditation
earlier than usual.
A vacation can provide us
with a break from the mundane–
I figure I can break
from rigid expectations,
and find a way to let meditation flow with
–as opposed to against–
my vacation.
Be flexible.
In the end, isn’t this what
my practice is all about?

So Many Memories

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My two sisters
My two cousins
and I
were pall bearers today.
Five women
pulled our grandmother’s casket
out of the hearse
and wheeled it
up the aisle of the church.
Because my grandmother
was strong in her faith
she made sure to bring us to church
every time my sisters and I
spent the night at her house.
She taught me the Our Father prayer
and how to find hymns in the hymnal.
I remember how she’d pray,
kneeling, eyes closed,
resting her head in one hand
while the other held her rosary.
Because so many of my memories of her
involve the church,
the reality of her passing
really hit me
as we walked into the sanctuary.
The familiar strains of Ode to Joy
filled my ears.
The sound of the music
and the beauty of the space
touched my heart.
I cried as this moment
made her death seem
even more real.
The service was beautiful,
the luncheon that followed
went smoothly.
On the long ride to the cemetery
I got to thinking about
the ways we honor the dead
and provide closure for the living.
There were some final prayers
and then it was done.
I took a rose from the bouquet on her casket,
whispered goodbye Mom-Mom.
Now I’m home with this single flower
and so many memories.

Reflections After My Grandmother’s Viewing

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She looked so peaceful
as if she were sleeping;
I expected at any moment
she would wake up and speak to us.
Beautiful flowers surrounded her
and pinned to the bouquets
were notes of sympathy and condolence.
Many friends and family
came to see her and pay their respects–
Why does it  take an event such as this
to bring us all together?
I touched her hands, her face,
so familiar to me;
they felt foreign
with all the warmth gone from them…
And yet still there was this surge of affection
seeing her there, looking so peaceful, asleep.
I wondered about this tradition.
The body in the casket
was not my grandmother…
it was the garment she wore for 94 years.
My grandmother is everywhere now,
my heart knows this.
I can feel her love now more than ever.
I looked and looked, but I couldn’t see death…
only life in its many forms as its flows
from one state of being to the next.