Sunday, September 30, 2007

eat pray love

during my travels of the past month i read a marvelous treasure. eat pray love. in between my many classes and studies, i read. i read while cramped in the middle seat of an american airlines flight, i read while soaking in a jacuzzi in a conference center hotel in las vegas, i read while sitting on a balcony under a bright sun in atlanta, and i read on a cool mountain ridge in the shenandoah valley. i read about italy and laid the book down, and then busyness kept me from getting to india until a week later and indonesia another week after that (it really won't take you a month to read the book). sometimes i cried and the people around me pretended not to notice and looked away. i cried a lot but laughed, too, as i followed elizabeth gilbert’s wondrous journey. liz gilbert shares with us her torment, her longing, her searching, and her coming into being. she is honest and vulnerable and very real as she takes us into her struggle and brings us into her light. what great joy eat pray love is to me—thank you, ms. gilbert, for such a beautiful gift as this book.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

a man in atlanta

i’m in atlanta. last week i taught a course in las vegas, and this week i am in atlanta.

on sunday morning past, i walked about to explore my temporary neighborhood for where i might find fresh fruit, brown rice, tofu, or steamed vegetables (i don’t often find these in my lovely hotels). as i was walking about, a man approached me, and as soon as he caught my attention, he begged me to hear him out. “please,” he implored, “i am not a panhandler, but i need to ask you something.” i smiled at him and listened. he explained his situation of being diagnosed with pancreatitus, now needing to have a prescription filled and finding himself $6 short, thus needing my help. “i am not asking you for the entire $6, just something to help with part of it, and i will find others to help with the rest.” he explained that due to his condition he usually could not work, that he was subject to bouts of nausea and vomiting. he was as nervous as my conference attendees will be today when they must present a business case to finish their course. his hands were shaking and he was breaking into a sweat and had to pause for a moment to compose himself before he continued. “i have the prescription here so you can see….” he held out a piece of paper to me. i didn’t have my glasses on and, well, i didn’t need to see his papers anyway. where has it ever been indicated that the Universe’s request for generosity and an open heart needs to be supported with proof or documentation? i didn’t need his papers. i had in front of me an opportunity to be kind, generous, and loving. i quietly reached into my handbag and pulled out a ten-dollar bill, folded it into a tiny bit and slipped it into his hand. (i didn’t think it needed to be apparent to others walking about that i was helping this man; he was embarrassed enough to be asking for help.) oh, my goodness, he was so grateful and so shocked i thought he was about to pee his pants. tears filled his eyes, a rush of words ran from his lips…he explained that he had just asked for help from church people leaving their morning worship service and they had chastised him, told him he should be working, that he should not be begging. he was humiliated and devastated to be shunned by church people.

there are those who would respond to my story by asking me how do i know he was telling the truth? how do i know he won’t spend the money on alcohol or drugs? i don’t know. and it is my understanding that i don’t need to know. my work on my path is to give to the poor; his work on his path is to use wisely what is given to him. i am called to be loving and open-hearted. i am not commissioned to be his judge.

the man said he will not forget me, not for as long as he lives. he said it is my smile, and my acceptance in listening to him and not pushing him away, that he will remember the most. and you know, i believe he is telling the truth. he will not forget that on a hot day in downtown atlanta, for a moment he was heard and accepted and given to. he will remember.

Monday, September 03, 2007

surrendered

perhaps my greatest courage is in my moments of surrender to the present moment, surrender to what the Universe has for me, surrender to what wants to be, and opening to it joyfully and expectantly.

i would love for life to meet my expectations; i would like to be everything i ever wanted to be--be as good as i've wanted to be, do wonderful things i have imagined, have beautiful things i have dreamed of. i've worked hard, struggled, tried to pay my way. but just when i think i can figure things out, make it all come together, i feel my intuitions calling me to greater surrender, greater letting go.

not letting go in a way of giving up, but letting go into trust, expectation that the Universe has far more to offer than i can ever come up with on my own. surrender is only part of the work. the other part is in being open, expectant, and receiving. perhaps it is the greater part.

my meditations now are to hold my openness to the Unknown, and hold it with surrender and expectation.

i will let you know how this unfolds....

the path



finding our way is the purpose of our path.

“If you see your path laid out in front of you -- step one, step two, step three -- you only know one thing... it is not your path. Your path is created in the moment of action. If you can see it laid out in front of you, you can be sure it is someone else's path. That is why you see it so clearly.”

-- Joseph Campbell




photography by diana christine

Saturday, September 01, 2007

taking in light

it's a simple act, really, yet profound. my friend plucks a tomato from her garden and hands it to me and i take a bite.

it's not the kind of garden you might be envisioning, just a few bits of basil and parsley and tomatoes in between coleus and lamb's ear and morning glory in the front yard of her suburban home. but no matter its unlikely setting, the tomato is a rich, ripe offering from the earth.

the juicy bite is hot, still resonating with the brilliance of the sun, and i suddenly realize i have just taken in light.

tell me, can anything i buy in a supermarket give me this?

photography by permission