Early summer is magical in the Pacific Northwest.
Spring’s fresh-cut grasses scent the air, and billowing clouds fill the blue skies. Brightly colored blooms paint neighborhoods and fields, and long hours of daylight stretch late into the evening. Delighting in the early season’s warmth and color, we bloom, too.
Then come the headlines . . .
In harsh contrast to the soft lushness of June, the daily news starkly reminds us of troubling aspects of life here and now. Increasing violence in our communities, even in our schools. Small children, taken from the arms of their migrant parents seeking refuge and asylum, await their fate in concrete barracks, along with incarcerated older kids who made the treacherous journey to America all alone. In cities and towns, bigotry, inequality, and injustice gouge deep wounds in the body of our society. In the political realm, coarse bravado and bellicose stances dominate, leaving neighborly relationships and comity in tatters. Arrogance is cheap, vulgarity even cheaper.
Whatever our politics, this is the world we all encounter each day, a world tinted in hues that range from kindness and beauty to cruelty and fear. Playfulness, clarity, and creativity are there in the palette alongside greed, power, and aggression. So it’s not surprising that we favor some over others.
Here’s the challenge:
Is it possible to note our preferences but hold them more lightly, neither tightly grasping nor flatly rejecting? When we’re able to be present with open hearts for whatever arises, within us or around us, we play a part in mending the tears in the fabric of this time. Can we soften enough to allow even just a little room for air, for nuance, for a way forward?
A sense of belonging – friendship, place, connection – is vital to health, happiness, and to cultivating a spacious heart. Faith traditions across time, continents, and cultures have known this for millennia. Every secular and community group today knows this.
Different entities might call it fellowship, membership, or sangha, satsang, congregation or community. The language doesn’t matter. Gatherings for reflection and widening our views are central to Living Earth, the foundational ground we stand on. Coming together to connect in compassion, to explore our deepest values, and open our hearts, we each are part of something much, much bigger than ourselves.