Become a Follower of the Big Dude!

Meet the divine Dude in this blog. This Dude has had and seen his share of sacred shit. He's not afraid of it or of its language. I can't relate to a god that's been crucified, but I can relate to one whom my government has imprisoned and humiliated. I can relate to one who's been raped by his own holy men. I can relate to one who grew up playing baseball or soccer and who dated the Prom Queen. I can relate to the god who knows the working of corporate conglomerates, pimps, and teen-age girls who are pregnant. I can relate to the god who loves alcoholics and drug addicts just a tad more than wall street hotshots. This Dude thinks all of us are mortal particles in an ocean of sacred shit. This Dude recycles.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

And Then There Was Light

Dawn. Rosy hued inklings heralding something wonderful. Ah. The birth of light each morning as the sun and the horizon cross. It's true what they say: The night is darkest just before dawn.

As you know, I've been in and out of dark places for quite some time as life took its toll on me, body and soul. This night, buried in the surprise of an October snow, came gently upon me and befriended me before I could say no.

It came in the form of my students. The topic of the day was social capital, civic virtue, and social networks (based on Putnam's book, Bowling Alone. As part of the lecture, I showed a clip from the movie Pay It Forward; most of the students had not seen it. I shared that this was a kind of karmic social capital, not the quid pro quo of the Golden Rule, but the idea that you give your social capital to someone or to society and it goes forward instead of coming back to you.

My students ate the lecture and the video as if it were food. Then, I divided each class in half and sent them into separate rooms. Each group had to "give" something generous to the other group. We reconvened 20 minutes later. One group had trekked out in the snow and come back with a cup of hot chocolate for each person on the other team. Another group wrote something praiseworthy about each member of the other team. Another group went online and read the other team's blogs, leaving generous comments about their work. The mood shifted in the room as we did all this. People were laughing and helping each other, saying nice things to each other. I could feel a "lightness" of Being in the room. Everyone left with an understanding that they were to pay the gifts they received forward to three people.

After class, one young man stayed on and while he was zipping his jacket, his face wreathed in smiles, he said, "You're a wonderful person."

Moved, I said, "Wow! Thank you."

"I'm not just saying it or paying it forward. I've been thinking it for awhile. You're a great teacher and you're a great person."

I drove home in the freshly fallen snow, street lights synergized by the coming of such unexpected brightness. The world seemed to glow. The contagion of my students' young idealism and energy blessed me, paying forward from whatever love they carry with them. "The light of God surrounds me . . . and all is well." Roxie

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Anger and the Soul

I bought a sweatshirt that says: Pretending to be pleasant all day exhausts me. I collect sweatshirts with "sayings" on them and I buy them intuitively. I had, for example, no idea that I was "pretending to be pleasant" until I saw that sweatshirt. I wore it for two days and during that time, not surprisingly, I discovered how angry I am.

How is it that a person who purports to be spiritual (maybe the sweatshirt should say: Pretending to be spiritually enlightened all day . . . )can find herself filled with mind-numbing, gut-wrenching, shrieking rage? If we are spiritual beings in a physical world as some would opine, then it's hopeless to pretend that we can escape any of the trappings of this world replete with unrequited passion, career failures, bodily weaknesses, financial blunders, crime and compassion. And, yes, anger.

As much as we like to equate intelligence with spirit, we can't negate that it's soul more than spirit that bridges the chasm between the aforementioned physical being and the spiritual world. Soul is a messy thing. It's full of preludes and punk, sweat and sweetness, birth and murder.

So, I feel anger and now I know it. It's bad enough to feel anger but what if it's at the person who, or so you thought, most loved you, the one who kept you from failure-to-thrive syndrome, your "good" parent. In my case, my dad.

My dad died several years ago by his own choice. He chose to stop eating and he wasted away. At the time, it seemed a perfectly reasonable decision for an old man to make and I did nothing to oppose his choice. Why, then, am I suddenly (aging myself) furious with him?

I don't know the answers, just the question at this point. I know I HATE the way he died. I hate that he chose to leave before his time. I hate that he left me when he didn't have to. That's a lot of hate towards the man I adored all my life.

I don't understand exactly what's happening but I do know that I've been catapulted into some serious sacred shit. Soul work stretches out ahead of me like a dark, ancient road. If you, my fellow travelers, have any road maps or lights to illuminate the next leg of my journey, please share in the comments section. Blessings, Roxie

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In the Moment

Did you ever look ahead with fear? Did you ever run an inner monologue that goes something like this? OMG I have to be at work early tomorrow and then there's a school meeting at night; I need to get my nails done and rake the leaves by Wednesday because friends are coming over. Or, I can't do it. I have chemo tomorrow and what if it doesn't work and I get all sick and lose my hair and then die anyhow.

That kind of future dread is a part of the human condition and most of us experience it on a regular basis. The other day I became aware of the reverse condition--memory overload. This is when you add up all the bad things that have happened to you over the last few days, weeks, years, or even over a lifetime and conclude that the Big Dude must not like you (or some other such frightening judgment).

Recently, I've been in memory overload. I fell on my hands and knees and injured my knee. Tests show nothing but I have debilitating pain everyday and am forced to walk with a cane or a crutch. On its own, this is difficult but it becomes catastrophic when I surround it with memory overload. I repeatedly think in this sequence: I've had too much to deal with in the last five years--I lost my job, lost my boyfriend, had hip replacement surgery, had a heart attack, and now I can't walk. Really, Big Dude? What terrible karmic retribution is this?

We can get "stuck" in either the future or the past and our minds run their tapes. Most of us are techno-savvy enough to know that when a tape is running in a continuous loop, we need to interrupt it. Turn off the electronic device if nothing else works. In the case of our thoughts, Buddhists would advocate that we stop and take several deep breaths.

Specifically, Pema Chodron, bless her, shows us her struggles with memory overload and futurizing. She suggests three deep breaths several times a day paying attention for that brief time only to the breath. Of all the Buddhist writers, she seems the most human to me. I am comforted by her descriptions of herself flinging a rock after her husband announces he is leaving her for another woman, by her story of being afraid to walk down a certain road because a scary dog lives down that way.

After we breathe and come into awareness, it's nice to be aware that we breathe within a community of humans all of whom share our struggles, all of whom have future dread and memory overload at various times. Each one of us has to stop and breathe on our own; no one can do that for us. Once we do it, however, there is room for awareness that shared breath is not unlike shared Spirit. In the moment, in this moment, we are never alone. Roxie

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Welcome New Souls!

Just a word about the growth of followers. I am so moved and blessed to have 54 wonderful people following this blog. I wish you all the Buddhist blessing: May you each receive the blessing that you need. Roxie

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Early Morning God

Some people find themselves very close to that spiritual awareness you could call God in the early morning hours. These are people who rise early and greet the earth before it awakens. Perhaps the lightening sky is especially clear with stars still visible. Perhaps there is a touch of pink just visible on the horizon. It is incredibly quiet and, wherever you are, the primordial universe seems to enshrine you.

That person, alas, is not me. I am tossing and turning in bed in those early hours feeling small and alone, wondering if the Big Dude has forgotten me. Wondering if he exists at all. Sometimes, I breathe my way through it until I see daylight crack through behind my curtains. Sometimes, I turn on the TV and watch the earliest news of the day.

Such a tiny space between me in my bedroom and the early morning outside. Why is it so hard to find spiritual connection inside my dwelling and so easy to find it if I stepped just 10 feet into the cathedral below the sky?

Inside my dwelling in the small hours, I worry about the day and maybe the weeks and months ahead. So much to accomplish and I so fragile it seems. Under the dawning sky, I am one with all of creation, in the moment, free of shackles and shoulds.

I am reminded of the Unity Church prayer:
The light of God surrounds me
The love of God enfolds me
The power of God protects me
The presence of God watches over me
Wherever I am, God is and all is well.

Big Dude, please remind me of this prayer and of your habitat just outside my window tomorrow in the wee hours when I feel so alone. Roxie