Happy Independence Day! This is how mine is going to go. A small group of us is going to one of the colonial manors around here where a canon will be fired and the Declaration of Independence read. We will mill around among people in colonial dress. My 19-year-old daughter is likely to provide a lively counter-point to all patriotism by expressing her passionate wish to be an ex-patriot. Eventually we will come home hot and tired and swim in our lake and I will perform what I have come to think of as a little version of the ancient Indian fire sacrifice. I will fill my fire bowl with wood and after the coals turn white I will roast chicken sausages and corn and other cook-out Americana as a way to appease the gods of domesticity. I sometimes fill the role of mother and householder in an almost sacrificial way. Not that this is a bad thing.
I just returned from a week-long retreat where I spent a great deal of time contemplating what it might mean to live so there is no separation between going outwards into activity, manifesting as we usually are, and moving inwards to the experience of oneness, of pure being, that can appear in stillness. How can we experience a state of being one with everything in the midst of life. By mid week, I began to experiment with living as if I was about to die. I did whatever I did, walking, talking, eating, without striving. I abandoned all hope of escape from the bare truth of what I was. I forgot I ever had a head full of ideas and a heart full of aspirations about how I could be better. I went around just being and bearing witness to it.
It gave me an inkling of what it is like not just to be–but to wholeheartedly volunteer to be. It helped me understand (at least for a second or two) that we are needed, not just on the meditation cushion, but in all our quirky particularity. We are meant to play a role in this wholeness. Last year, I interviewed Robert Kennedy, a wonderful Jesuit priest who is also a Zen Roshi. He reminded me that od is not a gift-giver, separate from ourselves. Everything is given to each of us. Creation plays itself out in our lives , as we experience it. Everything is poured out. Everything is a gift. If we can be open to receive it that way.
I have a hunch that being receptive has to do with agreeing to fill the role your in (really hold those BBQ tongs like you mean it!) What do you think?
May all beings be free and at ease here.