I had a few tough days at work last week, and I am mentally preparing myself for the beginning of a new work week tomorrow. I know many other people are struggling with the same stress of work, whether they see their job as a fulfilling career unto itself, or as a day job to pay the bills while they pursue deeper interests. There are some startling studies that show the high level of work stress around the developed world. If you click the picture I posted, you can find a larger view of this information. This post is for all of us.
The snow falls around me,
snowflakes kissing my lashes,
tickling my nose.
I stick out my tongue
to taste the cool wetness on my lips,
and I remember the taste of peppermint
in the candy cane hot chocolate
of childhood winters.
I scoop a wet snowball
in my softly-mittened hands,
as the fast-falling flakes
circle my warm jacket
in an intimate embrace
I meditate on the moment,
knowing that, for this fleeting gesture,
this silent tick on the forward march of time,
I am at peace.
Legend has it that the Buddha sat under a fig tree on the day that he attained enlightenment. Perhaps this is too broad a saying; I don’t think enlightenment can be fully attained in one earthly lifetime. I believe full enlightenment will take a human soul thousands or millions of years and journeys through multiple spiritual dimensions. At any rate, meditating under the fig tree was an important part of the Buddha’s spiritual journey. This particular tree, ficus religiosa, now bears the name “Bodhi tree,” Bodhi meaning enlightenment in Sanskrit.
The wind howled furiously around her, like a pack of ravenous wolves ready to devour the first living thing who dared to venture out in the bitter cold. She struggled and limped through the piles of snow on the sidewalk. Her husband walked beside her, mightily pushing their three-year-old son in his stroller, wheels catching and bowing to the pressure of the flakes, hardened by wind and footprints into biting balls of ice.
The young family decided to try to walk on the street, where snow plows had helped clear a way. Almost immediately, cars veered dangerously close to the child, and drivers angrily honked their horns. “Why don’t you get a job?” one driver yelled out as he hastily rolled his window down and back up. The woman bowed her head deeper as she thought about the years of schooling, her carefully crafted thesis, her pride when she walked across the stage to receive her master’s diploma. All for what? A low-wage, low-respect job with little opportunity for advancement. But “get a job?” She did work 40 hours a week already!
I look forward to resting at night. I want to enter the dream world, to visit the place where I put my physical body to sleep, and to awaken back into the spirit realm from which I came and to which I will someday return.
I have vivid dreams in colors beyond the grasp of human words. I dream of myself in the future, with children around me, souls I will guide and teach and perhaps babies I will welcome into my family. I dream of myself in the past, meditating under iridescent trees, staring into lakes mirroring depths of never-ending wisdom. I dream of fighting epic, fantastical battles of good and evil, scaling walls and jumping over roaring fires to rescue people from demonic forces. I learn secrets and explore worlds that I struggle to hang onto when I awaken once more.
Yesterday, a friend asked me what I think about Santa Claus. I have a three-year-old son, so this question is on my mind as we approach the holiday season.
I like the story of Saint Nicholas of Myra. He was legendary in his concern for the poor, bringing them gifts to lift their burdens. Legend says that he even paid the dowries of some poor young women so they could afford marriage and not fall into prostitution. This is amazing, and this is the kind of lesson I want my son to learn.
Unfortunately, the Santa Claus of today bears little resemblance to the saint of old. Our Santa Claus has become the happy, bearded patron saint of commercialism and corporatism. His tightly-run, efficient North Pole toy factory is a marvel of modern industrialism. His elves are willing workers who, much to the jealousy of managerial staff everywhere, never seem to gripe about hours or higher pay. To his credit, Santa Claus does provide his elves with all guaranteed basic necessities: food, shelter, health care, all in the comfort of his magical snowy village. This is far more generous than corporate America.
Who am I?
I am a lover
and a dreamer.
I am a writer and poet,
a seer of the unseen,
a knower of the unknown.
I am free,
but I feel the bondage of
the unlearned souls
who try to shackle me
and make me follow their way.
I want to fly free as a bird,
but I am a worrier and a carer.
I feel the pain of others,
their griefs, their sorrows
and their stories
ground me to solid earth.
I am a learner,
learning to overcome fear,
fear of not having enough,
fear of no place to rest my head,
fear of no voice for my swirling thoughts.
I have often said that I am a healer in need of healing. All of the best spiritual healers in the world have suffered many ailments. It takes deep empathy to learn the art of healing. I often pray to walk a mile in another person’s shoes so I can change my world.
Right now I am in great need of healing. I have developed a cataract in one eye that is progressing very rapidly. The diagnosis shocked me, because I am only 32 years old. As much as I know about medicine, I always thought of cataracts as only a disease of advanced age.
She felt the cold air rush in on her face and graze her naked skin. She looked at her partner next to her in the bed, wicked smile starting across his lips. “You’re going to get it now, whore,” he whispered. She stared into his dark eyes, looking for a sign of humanity, a sign of life. She only saw blackness, and demons.
She had given him everything he asked, and she hadn’t even demanded a very high price. She hated the rough treatment, the constant pain in her body and mind. She felt all their glances on the street. They all knew that she was a dirty woman.
It is quickly becoming winter here in Minnesota. We even had our first snow flurries today! But as I walked on an errand, I saw some brave dandelions still raising their gray, fluffy heads to the sky. I wrote a blog post some time ago about the brave dandelion, and here I revisit the flower with this poem.
in the wind,
cottony white puffs,
softly shining joy and hope,
reminding me of childhood
against a cloudy and bleak sky.
Each seed is a promise,
which will grow into a yellow youth,
deepen into a furry white old age,
and finally give itself up,
in another cloud of seeds,
in the cycle of earth.