I happened to be home on the Tuesday of Obama’s inauguration, so I witnessed many of the events that took place, including the great parading troupes of some of our nations finest musicians. I found it to be so inspiring and magical—not something that normally happens to me toward politics or governing practices in general… I’ve never seen this level of optimism, hope, and true joy, as an entire COUNTRY before. It really was the meaning of our name: United States…I’m sure there have been events in the past that have offered this level of re-defining, but I have never personally been a witness to it. It makes for an auspicious time in our country, where all things New are possible, and we can sweep the kitchen clean!
Because of the inherent inspiration I found in all of this, I allowed those feelings and perspectives to seep inward—to feel them belonging to me, personally, even though they are coming from “out there”. I realized how rarely I do this in life—take mass majority ‘hoopalah’ experiences and make them mine. There are the best legitimate reasons why I’m not prone to that, but more than that, it made me realize how rarely we get this opportunity to decide to take inwardly something POSITIVE from the outside! It is its own magical opportunity: where is there Good in life, and Think on These Things. That is the message to Self.
This idea of taking the outside world as my inner world works the opposite for me with things that are “wrong” and unjust. I take them in completely, try to learn factual things about these actions, wars, tragedies, injustices, and it becomes grist for the mill in my music so that I might eventually turn it into Flour. Mind you, I don’t ‘want’ to see any of these things, by choice, but I cannot help but see and feel them all. At its end, my response can be none other than as if to breathe out a prayer for Peace and Love into the universe by the act of playing the flute! (Any of you non-flutists didn’t know flute had THIS power, did you?!) I’ve always said that being an artist, or at least being this said “artist”, means taking the world in on a raw level, and giving it back out in the form of salve to the soul through music, and our lives. It means being quite shaken up, deeply shaken up, by things that are not ‘right’ out in the world, but having some way to process it and re-form it as manna from heaven. Not an easy way to live, I tell you. Just ask my loving and patient husband, Lee! But I know no other way, and I feel utterly grateful that this IS the life I lead, and the work I’m called to do (for lack of a better explanation).
I’m always struck by the reality that it is our own private perspectives on any given situation that makes it ‘what it is’. If I view something as “good” and life-giving, then it truly is. The opposite is also true. It is rare that the world around us ‘gives’ us our perspectives—it is in fact the world inside us that creates what color of glasses we are looking through, out into the world. As the saying goes, it is not what happens to us, it is how we choose to respond to what happens to us that matters. As someone once put it, “sometimes you don’t make the right decision, but you have to make the decision right.”
I know first-hand that it really does come down to DECIDING/CHOOSING what kind of person I want to be, and what kind of people I would like to have surrounding my life. This perspective of what quality of choice I will make will never ultimately come from me first, but can only come from a Divine source, into me, then out to the world. For me, that is the most awe-inspiring aspect of God, (or Love, or the Divine, or whatever you choose to call it for yourself): God Speaks! As David Steindl-Rast says, (a Benedictine monk whom I so often mention because he’s brimming over with such goodness), the best name for God is: “Surprise!” Nothing can be surprising or inspire awe if we are asleep while we live.
Realizing God Speaks, it becomes clear that we hear it according to how we align ourselves. When we align ourselves to be one of the Peacemakers and fixers/givers in life, we are SPOKEN TO, directly, because we have aligned ourselves to be Listening. It’s like water: there is always water, but we cannot harness it or drink it in unless we either have something to put it in, direct it, or simply put ourselves into IT and allow it’s life-giving properties in so simple a form. Again, this asks of us what kind of person we want to be in the world: A consumer/taker? A destroyer/intorlerant? A peacemaker/ giver?
I like how the Dalai Lama characterizes the qualities of how to be as Humans in three succinct words: Compassion, Patience, and Tolerance. He said, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them at least don’t hurt them”. I think how many individuals or ethnicities of people we hurt daily because we despise them in our thoughts—we have prejudices and we do not see past these. Perhaps we think our standards are far higher than what we are being served, or encounter, or perhaps we are simply arrogant in our view! This is usually based upon ignorance, no less. Not only that, sometimes one is so engrossed in their own lives they cannot see that their response should be to reach out, expand the posts of their tent, whether they approve of the circumstances that may have led to this or not. The Dalai Lama suggests that it is good to have “vexing” people (or worse) in our lives, because it teaches us what WE yet lack. It should be about supporting a human being, a PERSON not unlike yourself, not the end”product” that may have come from desperation, really. Isn’t this real love to one another, and isn’t this what we are asked to do from the Divine source? Only a few of you will know what I speak of here, but that’s ok…
So here we are, in this magical new time of Beginnings with a new Leadership of governance. Let’s just accept that there will be mistakes, because humans are the weak link in the chain, here. And let us understand that there will remain those hardened characters praying for such mistakes. It’s all about the Content of your Character.
I know which side of the human race or marathon I want to be on, in life. I’d like to be a contributor, peacemaker, a magic Tinkerbell sprinkling special dust that makes everything right for all of us…if I only could, pray that I would!
This seems to be the moment we now find ourselves in, historically: who ARE we, individually, alive at the same time in this world, and with what qualities do we proceed, individually? Not just with theory or words or an historical holy book of writings to smack people with, but for REAL, from the flesh of our hearts that can believe in love. “You will know them by their fruit.” Right now, it is such an indelible time in our collective lives: the tree is either just now beginning to grow, or it is already starting to bud—either way, I love that! May the bees not sting me, but they surely will, because my face will always be pressed deeply into those most fragrant blossoms! I’m inspired and happy to be alive, right here, right now.
January 29, 2009