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A Reflection for All of Us at this Holiday Season

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by The Reverend Jill M. Bowden of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, and Director of Chaplaincy Services at Mermorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC

From “This is It,” by Alan Watts:

This is it

And I am it

And you are it

And so it that.

He is it

And she is it

And it is it

And that is that.

This IS it: this moment in time is all we have….and now this one…and now this one. 

Just for this moment – accept that you are present, and in being present, remember that being present does not mean that you are in agreement with everything that is happening.

Perhaps you have noticed, I know I have, a certain increase in ‘edginess’ in these difficult days; a certain decreased level of civility.  Since the tragic and terrible deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner,  and others whose names did not make the national news, human relationships are increasingly strained in public places.  It is uncomfortable.

A colleague recently said to me that ‘soon the tension will fade and things will go back to being the way they were.’  I hope they don’t.  ‘The way they were’ denotes an imbalance in the dynamics of human interactions that needs to change; there has been a power imbalance that needs to be rectified.  The only way to do this is that people who have power – white people – need to give up some of that power so that other people – people of color – can have their rightful share.

Living in times of unrest means that we each need to be aware of living out of our own humanity.  We must live fully in the moment, mindfully engaging our empathy, daring to be vulnerable and focusing on that which is greater than ourselves in order to be resilient and to continue our moment by moment practice of purposeful awareness.

A fellow seminary of mine took a meditation class with a Buddhist instructor in order to help her recognize what it means to be totally present.  Sitting zazen with her class one day, she suddenly had a moment of clarity and jumped up, shouting “I get it!”  Excited, she said to her teacher, “Am I enlightened?”  And her teacher replied, “Well, you were.”

As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Remind yourself that acceptance of the present moment has nothing to do with resignation in the face of what is happening, it simply acknowledges that what is happening is happening. Acceptance doesn’t tell you what to do. What happens next, what you choose (my emphasis) to do has to come out of your understanding of this moment.  Try acting out of a deep knowing that ‘This is it.’”

Perhaps Judy Chicago said it best in “The Merger Poem”

And then all that has divided us will merge.
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind.
And then both men and women will be gentle.
And then both women and men will be strong.
And then no person will be subject to another’s will.
And then all will be rich and free and varied.
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many.
And then all will share equally in the earth’s abundance.
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old.
And then all will nourish the young.
And then all will cherish life’s creatures.
And then all will live in harmony with each other and the earth.
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.

May it be so in this and in all worlds; Amen, Salaam, Shalom, Om Shanti, Peace, Blessed Be.

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