Spring is opening, chirping, bursting…and, while an awe-inspiring backdrop, in my experience, most everyone’s capacity is compromised as we head into this beautiful season. How that feels really depends on our individual privilege and circumstances in this pandemic. This year has been tough, and continues to be for many.
End of February, when I desired to write something uplifting, I myself felt weighted: in the body, my nervous system settling post January 20th, lots of legislative advocacy on police reform, a month after the death of my non-blood father in Belgium, a year into COVID…). After receiving a second round of PPP loan, a life preserver for so many of us in these times, I chose to go on solo retreat for four days. I stayed east of the mountains in a tiny~house, as the monastery I often visit in winter remains closed. My days were spacious: meditation, tea, journaling, couple naps (one bundled outside in the winter sun), one workshop with anti-racist mentors I wasn’t willing to miss, and long walks up the canyon in the bitter cold. On the third day of this beautiful, somewhat unplugged time, I was re-reading some work by Buddhist teacher Larry Ward. He referenced a classic, early Buddhist text entitled the Five Remembrances.
My spiritual practice breathes pretty transparently through these writings. However, even if they inform what comes through the keyboard, I don’t generally include texts from my spiritual tradition. And yet in these strange times, this short piece, that I first encountered years ago, landed fresh in my heart with such profound gravity, tenderness and poignancy. Somehow, it feels stingy not to share. They are weighty, these truths. However this year, we’ve been collectively marinating in weight of them, certainly the first four. And the fifth, well I trust you to adapt to your unique spiritual vocabulary and world view.
I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape having ill-health.
I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
Everything that is dear to me, and everyone I love is of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.”
“My actions are my only true belongings. I will inherit my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.”
I have paused regularly to hold these close, at moments even cupping my face in my own hands and reciting them. And then, I continue forward, giving myself fully to what is right in front of me with the clearest intention I can, whatever I’m doing: attending to the knotted tissues of patient’s neck and back; massaging another patients’ feet and guiding the breath to alleviate anxiety; offering counsel and inquiry about digestion run amock by the stresses of parenting school aged children right now; organizing details about a healing circle for those impacted by police violence; composing yet another email to the Legislature regarding reform of our law enforcement (and in case you haven’t been tuned in, have a look at what we have accomplished in this state!).What is the ground on which I stand? It is unceded Duwamish land. And in stewarding this land, this human community, this wild, precious life, I am keeping the Five Remembrances close. My actions intersect with the actions of all those around me; forces I can and cannot see, can and cannot know. And I land here, with my feet on the ground in this moment.
Blessings in these days with longer light, with vibrant fragrance, with eye popping petals. I’ll be in clinic through May 17th, and then out a couple weeks, returning just after Memorial Day. If you’ve been thinking about coming in for some care, please get in touch to make sure we can find a time before I go. As to where I’m going, I think I’ll write about that next time.
with deep care,