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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

inside/outside: it’s that ageing thing, again

glen & britt late 70s

the author’s

 

When I was about the age of the picture, I asked my grandmother (who was probably 10 years older than I am now) how it felt to get old.  She laughed ruefully & shook her head. I look in the mirror, and I wonder: who’s that old lady?? I don’t feel old on the inside.

Me either. I feel far closer to the age of the picture than I do to my grandmother’s age then! And when I look at my beloved, this is who I still see.

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Today we looked at cars. Our elder son wants the hybrid hatchback we currently own. And my beloved — who has been a car freak since he picked me up for our first date in a well-cared-for Mustang convertible — wants a nicer car. He apologised for still being a gear head. Why is that something to apologise for? I asked. Some things really don’t change. On the inside, at least…

via pixabay

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On the inside, he & I are still this young couple — newly married, getting ready to go 1/2 way around the world to live. A pattern we’d repeat again later, w/ our first son in tow. Loving to see new places hasn’t changed, even if we now have to consider more physical limitations. Like remembering good walking shoes & reading glasses. :)

So much of life is like this. What things look like on the surface is rarely the whole story. And yet we judge each other on these superficialities: race, gender, age, ethnicity & dress. Things that are only a part (& sometimes a verrry small part, in the case of dress, for instance) of who we are.

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My beginner’s heart is tickled that my husband is still the gear head he’s always been — just an older version of the kid who restored an old convertible to cherry condition. The guy who always drove a car he loved, or at least a motorcycle. Greying hair and reading glasses are no more who he really is than my work clothes make me a ‘real’ grown-up.

So I’m working (again) to remember when I meet people to smile, say Hello! and let them be whomever they like. The inside heart of you is, often, the best of you. I, for one, am not only going to try to coax others to share: I’m going to try to share my own girl on a porch swing, dreaming. She’s still alive & well, that girl. Some things really don’t change.

 

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the Zen of whatever

the author's

the author’s

I love to cook. At least most of the time. And when I’m happiest doing it — making something I like to eat, w/out a deadline or people I worry won’t like it — cooking feels much like meditation. So does gardening, or making tea. I’ve never gotten to where washing dishes does this for me (despite what the beloved Thích Nhất Hạnh says). I’m not good enough to make beauty out of chores. Although I’m hopeful…

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Laundry, for instance: not the Zen. Nor vacuuming, nor making the bed. But weeding can be, and certainly writing or working in my journal are.

There’s an underlying music to everyday life, a kind of almost-audible melody that takes over when I’m immersed in the now of the action. If it’s cooking, this often happens as I crush garlic, or when I dice onions. If I’m making tea? The laying of the cloth, the warming & filling of the pot — these become movements in some larger piece. Sometimes, I swear it sounds like Pythagoras’s music of the spheres.

the author's

the author’s

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I wish I could reach this state of mind more easily, and w/ forethought. For now, I’m happy when it finds me, as it did when I was making the marinade for chicken yesterday. Or even making a salad for lunch: what will I add? My mother’s salads were legendary. She added all kinds of things, but they were always wonderful. Radishes, cucumbers, green onions, shredded carrots. Lemon juice to brighten it all, paprika to add a fuller flavour. I try to follow her apron strings. :)

Whatever you do, if you do it with good intention and mindfulness, I think it becomes a kind of meditation. A way to tune in to this moment, this now. Even if it’s dicing green onions, or slicing lemons. Maybe especially lemons; they smell so good!

Seriously — what is it you love to do that absorbs you? What makes you happy in the simple doing? Next time you’re stressed? Make time for it. You (& everyone around you!) will be the happier for it.

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spring, and the promise of a fresh start

the author's fat squirrel

the author’s fat squirrel

Today when I filled bird feeders, I looked out over the yard. Everywhere there’s the flush of rose & pink, and the backdrop of pale green that only comes in spring.

Once I had the sunflower tray filled, the fat squirrel that’s half-tame was in it, stuffing fat cheeks. And the finches are on one of the other feeders, their breast feathers already red. A bluejay is on the small seed tray, and a robin was hoovering the deck floor, looking for dropped tidbits.

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In the corner of the yard, our crabapple is blooming her head off: bright flowers fading to creamy pink as they open. In other words, spring is definitely here.

the author's

the author’s

With it come the religious markers: Passover & Easter the best-known in the US, but most religions observe spring. Next month is Theravada New Year for Buddhists; yesterday was Ram Navami (the birthday of Ram, a holy day for Hindus); the Baha’i celebrated their New Year last week.

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We celebrate the return of the sun, the greening of the brown landscape. Snow melts, rain falls, and that greeny fragrance floats on softened winds. It’s a new beginning — new leaves, new life.

For that reason, I’m thinking of fresh starts. Not the ‘official’ New Year, which holds little allure for me. But this freshening of life all around: the mating calls of mourning doves, the bravado of jays. Today is a good day to make new promises to ourselves, as the earth keeps hers.

What would you like to do this coming spring & summer? What is it you resolve? It’s a time of growth. Cash in on it — make a promise to yourself. And keep it.

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the Beatitudes, Buddhism, and living a good life

via flickr.com

A discussion on my FB page began w/ my heartfelt anger at recent attempts (many successful) to discriminate against gay & trangender men & women. An old friend & former colleague pointed out that most Christians (at least here in America) are far more familiar w/ the 10 Commandments than the Beatitudes.

It was a lightbulb moment for me.

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The 10 Commandments are prohibitions against certain behaviours, not a way of life, necessarily. You can be a pretty mean-spirited, hateful person and still follow the rules, so to speak.

That’s simply not true of the Beatitudes. Especially if you’re reading from Luke (Luke 6: 24-26), where Jesus goes into very specific condemnation of the rich, the falsely popular, and others. Like several other places in the New Testament, Jesus explicitly warns that wealth is not conducive to goodness.

via google

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And yet I never hear about these teachings from large churches, or TV evangelists (many of whom are quite rich). This hypocrisy (Jesus is pretty clear about helping the poor, and doing good to them that hate you, and turning the other cheek; none of these are prevalent attitudes in many denominations & their churches).

The wise & beloved Thomas Merton — an ordained Trappist monk as well as interfaith advocate — wrote that all religions have worth. I doubt he was thinking of those churches that use faith as a deadly weapon, advocating for hate & violence.

Here’s the deal: faith in a larger something — God, Jesus, Krishna, Allah, the Goddess — should, as my hero the Dalai Lama urges, bring us joy. Make us happy. Not the kind of happy that material goods provide, but that deeply soul-satisfying happiness that wells up when we know we’ve been ‘good people.’ Helping the waiter at tea yesterday w/ his application letter for an artist’s grant, for instance. Not a big deal (& please don’t think I’m setting myself as any paragon!), but I felt so happy afterwards to know that I’d been useful.

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via flickr.com

via flickr.com

The best thing about Buddhism — & the best thing about Christianity, as well — is their mutual elements of compassion. The world becomes a much nicer place if we all treat each other with love & respect. To feel for those who are less fortunate is easy in principle, but to do something about it? That’s very hard; it’s not easy to try to find good in people I can’t stand! But I believe it’s my duty. And the Beatitudes — those lovely, more gentle commandments — are a good place to start.

Previous Posts

inside/outside: it's that ageing thing, again
  When I was about the age of the picture, I asked my grandmother (who was probably 10 years older than I am now) how it felt to get old.  She laughed ruefully & shook her head. I look in the mirr

posted 5:36:36pm Mar. 31, 2015 | read full post »

the Zen of whatever
I love to cook. At least most of the time. And when I'm happiest doing it -- making something I like to eat, w/out a deadline or people I worry won't like it -- cooking feels much like meditation. So does garde

posted 7:09:03pm Mar. 30, 2015 | read full post »

spring, and the promise of a fresh start
Today when I filled bird feeders, I looked out over the yard. Everywhere there's the flush of rose & pink, and the backdrop of pale green that only comes in spring. Once I had the sunflower tr

posted 12:33:52pm Mar. 29, 2015 | read full post »

the Beatitudes, Buddhism, and living a good life
A discussion on my FB page began w/ my heartfelt anger at recent attempts (many successful) to discriminate against gay & trangender men & women. An old friend & former colleague pointed out that mo

posted 2:02:19pm Mar. 27, 2015 | read full post »

pets vs kids, and what we spend our money on...
My dogs are pretty indulged. Even (dare I confess?) spoiled. They have soft little beds in their kennels, fleecy things I wash regularly, and replace when the dogs chew holes in them. There is an American-made br

posted 3:56:31pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

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