Celebrating the Connections

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Recently I had the privilege and honor of being inducted along with my girl’s basketball teammates into my high school athletic hall of fame. Now you may be thinking “what’s the big deal?” and, frankly, a part of me felt the same way going into this event.   But now, having seen my teammates from nearly 40 years ago, and heard the speeches of the other inductees, the importance of this event in my life has been profound.

I have been overwhelmed lately by feelings of isolation. Isolated because I’m single. Isolated because of my job that consumes so much of my time and energy.  Isolated because, well, sometimes I just need to be alone and away from the busyness of life. It’s not a bad thing to be alone, and one can often find renewal in solitude and quiet. But when isolation leads to the destruction of connections to loved ones and to those who are and have been a part of our lives, it can deeply affect one’s feelings of connection to the universe.  A sense of purpose can be lost.

The decades that have elapsed since the last basket was made have in no way destroyed the memories of that time.   Seeing my former teammates for the first time in many years could have been awkward. We have all gone our separate ways, and most do not keep in touch, except through Facebook, but even then what do we really have in common? Our lives are vastly different now than they were when we were teenagers.   Yes, seeing them could have been awkward, but it wasn’t. We hugged, talked, cried and laughed as though those decades that had passed were mere minutes.   The shared experiences that we lived through as teenagers created lifelong connections that lay dormant in my memory until I stepped through the door to the auditorium.

Reflecting on my emotions of that evening, I realized that we are forever connected to those who cross our path. Separation by time, distance or even death does not destroy the connection. The connection lies in our memories and, more importantly, in our hearts.   If we simply allow them to come forth, we can celebrate them for how they have enriched our lives.

 

 

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Redwoods in the Forest

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In fully taking advantage of my holiday time off from my 9 to 5, the other day I went for a solo hike at Big Basin, a redwood forest only several miles from Silicon Valley.  Every time I visit Big Basin, I am struck by the presence of a divinely beautiful forest located only a short drive from the center of the technological world.

Solo hikes are a great way to meditate on the move, so to speak.   Being completely alone on the trails in a heavily wooded forest (save for the occasional fellow hiker to say ‘hello’ to) provides me the time to think about nothing but the beauty that surrounds me.  As I started my hike, I stopped for a moment to breathe in the cool, damp, mossy air, filling my lungs completely with it.  I took a moment to just look up, and look in, thankful for how fortunate I am to be in this place, at this time.  I took the time to be enveloped in the silence that only a forest can bring.

Along my hike, I paid particular notice to the enormous redwoods all around.   Oftentimes grouped in threes or fours, these mammoth trees form cathedrals that simply take your breath away.  Standing in one such redwood cathedral, looking up to the heavens to which they seemed to touch, I thought about everything these trees had seen in their hundreds-year old lives.  From a small sapling, they had experienced the warm California sun, enjoyed a stunning view over the Pacific Ocean, endured torrential rains and hurricane force winds, and still, they stand, majestic and divine and more beautiful than words can describe.

These trees whisper their tales of endurance and perseverance, and they are all the more magnificent because of it.  They  were created not only to endure, but to thrive.

Much like these resplendent gifts of nature, humankind is also created to grow in beauty and strength.  Each storm, much like each sun-kissed day, is designed to not only fortify us, but to remind us of our gloriousness.  If we take the time to really see ourselves, and those around us, focusing not only on the triumphs but also the struggles, we will be awestruck by radiance and beauty much like we are awestruck by the redwoods in the forest.

 

Peace Is

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The 2016 presidential election has stirred the collective consciousness of this country.   Those on the ‘winning’ side, feel heard, emboldened, justified and sanctified. Those whose presidential choice did not prevail, myself included, feel a tremendous sense of grief, hurt, anger and disbelief.   From my own perspective, now seven days post-election, my reaction to the results are becoming tempered, which is allowing me to understand them, heal from them, and better yet, grow from them.

My meditation sessions for the past week have brought forth one central theme—peace. We humans crave peace, and the lack of peace within ourselves creates disharmony not only within us, but to those in our immediate circle and in our community. It is true what they say, ‘hurting people hurt people.’   Do you think that teenager who broke into your house is at peace? Or that guy that flipped you off in traffic? Think about the ripple effect of their peacelessness.   What is going on in their family, in their lives, that causes such action? How their actions have impacted you?

Peacelessness is not innate. Peace is. Newborns do not come into this world angry and malcontent. We are taught these negative emotions through our relationships with our parents, our classmates, our co-workers. We develop a desire to hurt those who have more than us, to get mad at those who don’t see things our way, to hate our lot in life. So we take it out on others, in ways that are difficult to fathom. The peacelessness in our country is no more evident as that demonstrated in the campaign and its’ after-effects.

Imagine what would happen if rather than teaching peacelessness, we taught peace. What if we taught our children and those around us to be content with where we are and what we have, that it’s not about how far you get, but how you get there, and that we love the community, and it’s people, in which we are a part? Can you imagine that world? Oh, I have no doubt there would still be conflict, but conflict can exist without hatred and vitriol. Conflict can be respectful, embodied in the recognition that whomever we are in conflict with is our brother or sister, not our enemy.

Peace is within us all. It has no regard for gender, race, creed, ethnicity or sexual orientation.   It is freely available for those who wish to reclaim it. Peace is necessary for the survival of this world, and for the human race. I, for one, am on a mission to infuse my life, my consciousness, my entire being with peace. I am content with where I am, and as my life continues to evolve, I am intent on living it with peace in my heart. I am hopeful that as I continue on my peace path that those around me will reap the benefits so at least, in my little corner of the world, there will be peace.

Serenity Comes Easily in Nature

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What do you experience when you look at this photograph? Take a moment to take in the coolness of the mountain air on your skin.  The crunch of the fallen needles under your feet.  The absolute stillness in the presence of the majesty of nature.  The largeness of God’s creations which exist in an effortless display of beauty that can take your breath away if you allow it.  Take in a deep breath of the serenity that you feel while experiencing nature’s room and just be, if only for a moment.