Radical Grace*

Last Friday Gay Marriage became the law of the land. Later that day, Barak Obama paused for thirteen seconds in the midst of his eulogy for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney and allowed the silence to sweep over us before he /began to sing Amazing Grace and 5000 mourners in the arena, and millions more watching on TV, sensed that this was the opening in the waves — that the world had turned and we were fortunate enough to have witnessed it..

What a journey its been.  What grace, we’ve experienced by being here  To go through the joy and the pain of it. And to have the chance to learn from this pain, and to honor it, instead of resisting and denying it, is far more than I expected or hoped for.

We’ve hit a more fearless, deliberate stride . There will be no turning back. The people in that arena cried out Hallelujah, and many of us cried out with them. And the tears flowed. And hope was reborn. For what we saw with our eyes was barely a sliver of what we were able to see with our hearts.

Hallelujah indeed. At this moment of radical grace,,nothing less will do.

Use the following image to welcome grace into your life, and to suspend your disbelief. It costs you nothing but your doubt. Then see what happens.

 Receiving Grace

Close your eyes and imagine yourself floating face up in the water. Sense and feel how you are supported without any effort.

Breathe out and see yourself as a falcon, soaring high above the earth. Sense how the air and the wind hold you aloft without any effort.

Breathe out. See and sense yourself in free fall, floating into the Creator’s loving  embrace.  Know and live how you are surrounded and supported by the power and light of grace.

See how you feel. Then breathe out and open your eyes.

*Radical Grace is the name of the sterling documentary about three nuns who risk their place in the Catholic Church to follow the higher calling:of social justice. It was, produced by Susan Sarandon..

They voted Right: Or Is It Left?

Did you hear it? Was it loud enough? Do they get it yet? A resounding YES just echoed throughout the land. The Supreme Court voted 6 to 3 to keep the Affordable Care Act in tact. Millions, including one of my very dear friends, have been saved from being thrown back into the pit of disregard and hardship advocated by those those who would have given almost anything (except their own privilege) to see this grand accomplishment go down. Foiled! The brilliant and beautiful Black Man in the White House has pulled it off again. Sorry. Too bad. La di da. La di da. La di da.

I dare say this has been a good week. Out with the confederate flag. In with Obamacare. What’s next. I bet, hope, and pray, we go three for three. The odds are good. The wind is at our backs. Any takers?

We never know what things may come.  All we do know is our intention and our willingness to follow through. Here’s an image for momentum and resilience. Use it and see what happens.

 Beating the Drum

Close your eyes, exhale through your mouth, and imagine you’re standing within a circle of light. See, feel and sense how you are beating a drum that sends out a clear and powerful message. See all those who hear this message responding to its rhythm and coming to join you. See them entering your circle and see this circle growing larger. Hear the drumbeats flowing out into the universe, becoming stronger and clearer. Feel them resonating in your heart and in the hearts of others. See and sense what happens. Then breathe out and open your eyes.

 

Forever Young: Elder Awe

On June 5th, The New York Times ran a piece called “A Group Portrait of New York’s Oldest, Old,”  Instantly, Jonas Mekas, the last person profiled in this piece on elder-hood, became my hero.

At 92, Mr. Mekas lives entirely in the present, taking each day as it comes..He says he  doesn’t know what he’ll be dong when he gets up in the morning. He doesnt worry. He doesn’t believe in it. Yet, he’s no slouch. Indeed, he’s a producer and writer of films, who makes time each day to thoroughly enjoy his life.

He sees this as “Normal.” He claims that anything else is not. His doctor says he’ll live to be a hundred! I’m counting on it. For like Woody Allen in Annie Hall,”.I’m in “lerve”

As for “happiness,” Mekas believes it’s a sense of inner peace and balance where he isn’t anxious about what’s coming, but involved in what’s going on right here, right now. The title of his most recent film Out-Takes From the Life of A Happy Man. bears testament to the success of his philosophy.

For what could be more healing, more empowering, more youth-ifying than elder-hood as a proving ground for the salutory effect of being here now? In truth, Where Else Is There For Us To Be? 

Here’s an image you can use to experience life without grasping. To live with no agenda. To be part of the wonder of Now..

 The Bridge of Now**

Close your eyes, breathe out, and see yourself on a rope-bridge, made of separate pieces of wood tied together, stretching out ahead of you and behind you.

Know and live, that behind you lies the past.

Before you lies the future.

As you stand here, look toward the direction of past and see the pieces of wood falling away until there is nothing there.

Now  look toward the direction of the future and see the same thing happening.

See yourself standing here, knowing there is no past. There is no future. There is only this moment.

Stand in this moment and give thanks.  Then open your eyes.

 * Imagery from Dr. Fritz Jean-Noel 

*Credit to Dr. Melissa Abrams for tweaking me back into action

Dave Goes Bye-Bye

David letterman has left the Building
For years, Dave was my comfort zone. My fall back guy whenever I needed one. Before Netflix  Before Amazon Prime, there was Dave. A friend. A pal. A man of Mid-Western sensibilities and New York smarts. The perfect formula for someone like me, who eschews Xanax but needs more than chocolate, and no longer smokes anything at all, yet craves help when times are tough, or even just discomforting.
How Good it Was!
Last year, when I left New York, I stopped tuning in. Dave was part of my past. But, last Wednesday, I watched the final “Late Night Show,” and once again saw how good it was. And how much of my own life was encoded in those clips that rolled across my TV screen.
If Dave were Jewish . . .
Back in the eighties I had a friend who wrote science books for kids. Somehow, she managed to get a spot on Dave’s show. Not once but twice, I watched in awe as she soldiered through her segment, trying her best to engage Dave with her patter. He wasn’t interested. But he stood there, as did she, and I cringed with embarrassment as the time passed, until finally she left the stage. I couldn’t have done it. But with a narcissist’s innate panache, she managed. I will never forget the expression on his face. If he were Jewish he would have said “Oy gevalt.” So I said it for him.
We’ll be Missing you, Dave
That’s the closest I ever came to being on “Late Night” with Dave. Yet, as I sat here last Wednesday, watching the rapid fire montage of clips during the last few minutes of the last David Letterman Show, I got to live the past few decades again in a matter of seconds. I felt connected, alive and grateful. It was a privilege and a pleasure I won’t forget. Thank you Dave. For all you were. Are.  And may yet become. Stay happy and well. We’ll be missing you for a good long time.

On the Danger and Difficulties of Groups

There have been many “Firsts” in my life .Recently,I attended  my first book club., Normally, I avoid groups. Book Clubs mean groups, and groups mean people and people clutter up the room with too much random peopling stuff. The meeting was scheduled to last an hour,  Surely,  I could handle it.
Where’s the Beef?
First came the introductions. Next, we  spent fifteen minutes discussing a Netflix series I hadn’t seen.. Then we moved on to movies. I’d thought we’d be talking about the book. Not so. No one led. Everyone led. It was one if these off-the-cuff groups. But cuffs are good. They add weight and substance.  You can turn them back, or roll them  up, but they still need to be there; we need the boundaries. We need the beef.
 
The Nana Diaries
Along the way, we made it to the book. That’s when the group splintered into mini-groups and everyone spoke at once. Toward the end, a woman told a story about her “Nana.” Also, her grandfather’s unveiling. And her 3 year old nephew’s family antics. What she said had nothing to do with the book. .Not even close. The book was “Wild.” Cheryl Strayed’s autobiographical adventure of a disconnected, damaged, risk-taking woman’s search for whatever it was she was searching for: freedom, clarity,.healing, absolution?
The dangers of unbidden advice
This is why I avoid groups. Everyone has a story to tell, and in this case it was not the author’s. These stories are closely akin to unbidden advice. They’re rarely interesting, meaningful, apropos, or funny. Would that they were, I’d be glad to listen. I may or may not return to this group..It depends on if I can bear another chapter of The Nana Diaries.
 
When kindness is overrated
Yes. I’m being unkind and ungenerous. But enough is enough. In full disclosure, for me this group was a breakthrough. I spoke (i.e, “contributed, shared”) more than my name. Perhaps we don’t always need cuffs. Perhaps this was better than I allowed myself to think.  . .
Please share your own experiences with groups. Clearly, I could use some advice.
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