It's a 45-mile drive from where I live to my girlfriend's house. There has been a lot of road construction this summer, forcing me to take a longer than usual route. Last Thursday, I took Interstate 96 to Telegraph Road. At that intersection, a large yellow sign read "Need A Prayer." Two men were sitting under a collapsible white canopy, hoping for a car to stop so they could provide their services.
I was walking with a good friend recently. We fell into a conversation about how a person can reconcile life's fundamental unfairness with that of believing in the divine and living a spiritual life. My friend brought up all the suffering and injustices people endure and that we are all witness to. It is hard to escape the volume of suffering when we are constantly subjected to it on social media and the news.
Only if it was as easy as pulling over on the highway and stopping for a prayer.
My friend knows that I regularly meditate and pray. I am always present to living a life that is authentic, vulnerable, open, nonjudgmental, loving, and open to the divine. I certainly don't do that perfectly. I make my share of mistakes, but I always want to bring forth the most clarified expression of who I am. Living my life doesn't make me immune to the unfairness I encounter, and that can so easily intervene in the plans I make. I shared that the suffering I've endured and the spiritual practice I follow are not mutually exclusive. Believing in the divine does not shield me from the possibility of something "bad" happening. For me, the challenges I endure are an invitation to plumb the depth of my being. That becomes the fertile ground of deepening my connection to the truth of my being and surrendering to the unfolding of my life.
There should be an equation that quantifies the quality of one's life with the possibility of something bad happening. One should negate the other, but we all know it doesn't. This blog post isn't long enough to list all the challenging moments I’ve had in my life. I must believe that is true for most of us.
Famine. Ukraine. Hurricanes. Asylum seekers. Clean water. Drug addiction. My recent cancer diagnosis. So many people's lives are disrupted. Where does all this suffering come from? How does this all fit together? How do we reconcile the sacredness of our lives with the contradictions and paradoxes of life? Of our lives.
For me, ultimately, there is nothing to reconcile. There's just acceptance and self-love. That doesn’t mean I don’t act against injustice. I don’t confuse acceptance with complacency. If there were an "original sin," it would be the loss of our innocence, the lack of self-love, and our own self-judgment. For me, my spiritual practice is to continually fall into the present moment. That is where the most possibility for my life exists. I also need a loving, supportive community of people. I need my life reflected so my blind spots are illuminated and I can move forward in my life in a more clarified, healed way.
One of the men in the men's group I belong to offered this blessing during a meeting, "Change is the constant in life. Our lives. Nature is always in change. There are four seasons. Take pause. What needs to change in your life? Can you embrace that change, or will you resist that change? What will that change bring you?"
Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of life, I remain open to Grace and the gift of my life.
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