In this significant time of not-knowingness, I wanted to post some thoughts and resources that have made a nourishing difference for me, in the hopes that they in turn might be helpful and nourishing for you.
Can we take this time to rest, so that our souls can catch up with us?
This idea came to me when reading the following story: “The story is told of a South American tribe that went on a long march, day after day, when all of a sudden they would stop walking, sit down for a while, and then make camp for a couple of days before going further. They explained that they needed the time to rest so that their souls could catch up with them.”
This story is told by Wayne Muller, an ordained minister, in a wonderfully soothing book called Sabbath. In Sabbath, Wayne Muller weaves together the strands of different religious traditions to reveal how each of them does honor the sacred meaning of the Jewish Sabbath. On the jacket of the book it says: “Millenia ago, the tradition of the Sabbath created an oasis of sacred time, within a life of unceasing labor… a refuge for our souls.”
I woke up last week with an image. What I saw was an invisible creature, a silent teacher, roaming our planet, intent on teaching us some very important basic facts:
- Slow down
- Look around you
- We are “one” planet and there is no planet “B”
- We are completely interdependent
- We are equal
- All of us are vulnerable just the same way
- To survive we must co-operate
- Leadership must be done from the “future calling”
- As a planet we must go down the “U” to hear the future calling
- Our destiny as inhabitants of our planet is unpredictable
- We must nourish each other’s souls so that we can even tolerate isolation
- We need the Pandemic of being deeply connected to each other
My favorite saying is: “Very few people know that there are special angels, whose only job is to make sure we do not get too comfortable, and fall asleep, and miss our life.” The “angels of discomfort” are indeed all around us.
This poem by Lynn Ungar called Pandemic has landed in my inbox many times over the last few days. In it Lynn invites us to let these “angels of discomfort” wake us up.
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath-
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
as long as we all shall live.
Rome, Italy, where people are singing on their balconies, with their windows open so that those who are alone may hear the sounds of shared joy during this time of social distancing.
I have had a long talk with my friend Jill Bolte Taylor. Jill is a brilliant brain scientist. She had a stroke and recovered completely. You must see her TED talk. She is writing a new book about the brain. In it she describes the left brain with the thinking and feeling side, and the right brain with the feeling and thinking side. She calls them Characters #1 #2 #3 and #4. She recommends to give each character a name.
I was so inspired by my talk with Jill that I decided to write about Yumi’s 4 characters.
Here is what I have understood:
My previous Yumi had four powerful characters:
1- Left hemisphere character number #1: Einstein. It was his intellectual brilliance, his analytical thinking, his capacity to conceptualize and plan, his powerful execution of complex ideas.
2- Left hemisphere character number #2: Yumchick. It was the Yumi who went through the war and lost his sisters. It was the Yumi who worried about everything. It was the Yumi with the deep pain and the unfinished grief from so many losses.
3- Right hemisphere character number #3: Pipchick. It is the sweetest most adorable boy/man. He is here now, so available, so cooperative, so loving, so gracious. He doesn’t talk, but he is very present.
4- Right hemisphere character number #4: Wise Yumi. He is the one who, when his cousin Eli died two weeks ago, said to his wife Aliza, in Hebrew: “Aliza, I am an old man. I have had a sad life with many losses. And the loss of Eli is not the loss of a cousin. It is the loss of a brother.”
What I now realize fully is that with my new Yumi only characters #3 and #4 are present. Characters #1 and #2 are not there anymore. However, I can see that what it allows my new Yumi to experience is being at peace with a mind that rests gently in his heart. I am amazed at the fact that by beloved man is now once again my teacher for this new time, a time when simply being here, open and receptive, and available is of the essence. My new teacher of “nowness” is my beloved Yumi. Sitting with him in silence is an experience of peacefulness and groundedness.
I am closing today’s post to you with the title of Pema Chodron’s new book Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World.
May we all indeed be inspired and empowered to welcome the unwelcome, and live wholeheartedly and together on our beautiful and vulnerable planet.