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Walking Among Saints

I grew up Catholic.  Saints are special to Catholics, as they are to people of other faiths.  The reason saints were special to me as a young catholic, is because I could identify with them more easily than with images of Divinity.  Saints went through every test and trail that I went through.  And, there was a saint for every human difficulty, a person who had the same life experience I might ever found myself struggling with.  At least that is how it seemed to me.  The struggle of the saint and their triumph and the way they called their faith into play to rise above the challenge was very encouraging to me.  They seemed to be magnificent role models and loved reading about them.

Tell Them Everything Because They Already Know

The way it worked, according to me, is that if you had an issue, you would connect with the saint who worked that issue out.  In your prayer you would take time to talk to that saint.  You would tell them the whole store, taking your time to go over every detail and leaving nothing out.  You’d tell them what was going on and then, and I sincerely loved this part, the saint would to God on your behalf to intervene.

Look, I may have got the whole thing wrong, and today I certainly don’t believe anyone needs an intermediary between them and Divinity, however, I can tell you that talking to the saints was one of the most comforting practices of my young trouble life.  Because they were passed on, the saints had no bodies, they weren’t intimidating.  The downside was that you didn’t always get clear feed back.  The trade of for clarity was that you could literally tell them everything.

I don’t know where I got the idea from, but I was convinced that because they were part of the invisibleness of being, they already somehow knew everything, so nothing was too shocking to tell a saint.  In fact, that was how you gave it up.  That’s how you released it and gave it over.  Through the telling.  They were going to God to clear it all up, and they, through their ascended beauty of mind and spirit would present me in the most favorable light according to their blessed temperament.

No Intermediaries to Divinity Needed

As an adult I abandoned the whole idea of intermediaries or Divinity needing contrite explanations for past transgressions or worries about the future.  I began to immerse myself in the idea of direct communication with Reality.  I began to feel my relationship with all-that-is in my moments of quiet contemplation when I became intensely aware of the present moment and the aliveness in it.

But I haven’t abandoned the saints, I see them now in current time as role models around me who act out courage, kindness, bravery, thoughtfulness and compassion while going through the trials of navigating this world.  There are no shortages of saints.  They live in everyone one of us, through the disappointments, victories of our lives, we guide each other.  I have started to have the experience of what it means to take refuge in the community because my saints are visible to me and I am able to actually talk to them, celebrate with them, cry with them, be inspired with them, and when the time comes, present my shoulder for them to lean upon.

And not only contemporary saints.  I still celebrate the lives of those who have gone before me.  Who have lived from their faith.  Who have overcome great hardships.  Who have put others before self.  Who have loved deeply and profoundly. 

They continue to inspire me.

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I have reached a point in my life...

I have reached a point in my life where I want to spend time on what brings joy and delight to me and those around me.  I am drawn to those who have tolerance and patience and who exhibit concern for the well-being of others.  I find great value in spending time with people who like me, who love me and who want to share their smile with me.

I am drawn to those who love honesty and freedom.  I notice that I like to collaborate with those who are transparent, genuine and sincere. I love interacting with people whom love to learn and who are sometime uncertain about what they know.  I am comfortable being out of step with popular trends and I shy away from comparison as a form of motivation.

I value loyalty and forgiveness and I cherish heartfelt encouragement both when giving and receiving it. I am fascinated with the diversity of human creativity and I genuinely love those who show gentle, loving kindness to all beings.  And on top of everything I am amazed that people accept and welcome me into their lives.

Inspired by a statement by a public figure I admire. 

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In the Preface to The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama wrote:

Kindness is the starting point, the fount from which flow so many other positive qualities, such as honesty, forgiveness, patience, and generosity.
These words made me think about the connection between those positive qualities and kindness.  What would honesty, forgiveness, patience and generosity be without kindness?  Is there even such a thing as unkind patience or unkind generosity, or honesty?

Truth Telling as an Act of Kindness

Telling the truth can be an act of kindness, especially if told with sincerity and a sensitivity.  Not addressing an unpleasant situation can result in hurt feelings as much as addressing the situation can.  There is an element of risk present when, for example, a music teacher decides it is kinder to tell a student who shows no talent to consider other hobbies than to withhold her evaluation.

Sincerity and Sensitivity:  Keys to Kindness
Sincerity and sensitivity are keys to kindness.  Sincerity includes knowing where I’m coming from, in other words being honest about my motives, before I engage in addressing an unpleasant situation.  I sometimes need to spend time searching my heart to discover if I really do have the other person’s best interest in mind.  I may discover subtle mischief at play in the form of a slight desire to put them down, to return a hurt or manipulate an outcome.  I may even discover a slight desire to get even or to get my way.  Sincerity to me means that I own my motive and to take responsibility for the emotional fallout that may result when I address the situation.
Sensitivity means being considerate.  It is a style of engaging that is courteous and caring.  Without sensitivity I might wield the truth like an ax.  I might disguise rudeness by calling it honesty.  I might say things like “I’m just speaking my truth” right before delivering a careless opinion.   Sensitivity to me means being interested in discovering the clearest, kindest way to say what wants to be said with all mischief stripped away.

Things Get Easier
And even when sincerity and sensitivity are practiced there is little guarantee that the information will be received well. Nevertheless, these two qualities help me drop as much pretense as possible when engaging with others and when I am mindful enough to practice them things just get easier.


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My Trip To Mexico: Chichen Itza, Tulum and Isla Mujeres

What a surprise it was to return to Chichen Itza and discover the differences between now and my visit 8 years ago when it was still possible to climb the already crumbling stairs to the top of the pyramid.

I wondered on that first trip how it was possible that tourists were permitted to climb the climb the steep steps.  The guide on this trip told us that indeed there were serious accidents in which tumbling tourists took down tens of others below them.  How true?  I don't know.  Now Chichen Itza, a federal property is one of the most visited sites in Mexico and the buildings are protected from the many climbing feet.  You can admire and photograph from close, but no longer from up top.

The view from the top of El Castillo was amazing, and the steps, if I remember correctly, were very steep.  I found going down to be far more difficult than going up.  This visit, standing at the bottom gazing up, it was difficult to believe that I had stood in the dark opening way up there wondering what might have taken place at the top of El Castillo.

Every morning on our trip we gathered to meditate together.  We used an adapted version of the Loving Kindness meditation in which we called to mind people who are dear to us and imagined conveying a message to them using the words:

May you be filled with loving kindness
May you be well
May you be peaceful and ease
May you be happy

The 30 minute daily meditation was followed by gentle yoga and then breakfast and then an outing to one of the archaeological sites.  The practice of being together regularly and focusing on loving kindness contributed a beautiful feeling of camaraderie in the group and, in my opinion, made is possible for us to navigate gracefully through the sometimes stressful activity of being away from home and familiar creature comforts.

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