Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Warrior

I'm reading When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron, for the fifth time. Like any great book, every read brings new discoveries, insights, lessons to be learned. I let go of Buddhism, for a good long time, and now I'm finding it again, or perhaps, it's finding me. This particular book has been a guide for me through challenging times, and once again, Pema's words and advice resonate deep within me. I am ever grateful for such teachers.

Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don't get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It's a very tender, non-aggressive, open-ended state of affairs.

To stay with that shakiness--to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge--that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxation in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic--this is the spiritual path. Getting the knack of catching ourselves, of gently and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path of the warrior. Pema Chodron


Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Aurora

Au·ro·ra(ə-rôr'ə, ə-rōr'ə)

n. Roman Mythology.

The goddess of the dawn.



"Gentleman...look around you at the gifts of God, the clear sky, the pure air, the tender grass, the birds; nature is beautiful and sinless, and we, only we, are godless and foolish, and we don't understand that life is a paradise, for we have only to understand that and it will at once be fulfilled in all its beauty, we shall embrace each other and weep."
- Fyodor Dostoevsky, "The Brothers Karamazov"'

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Santa

I was going through some old pictures last night, and found this wonderful photo of me and my dad. I think I stared at it for an hour. It captures exactly how my dad makes me feel: safe, warm...completely loved. This was taken just before Christmas in 1969, I believe a few days after I discovered my dad was Santa Claus.


I am five years old, starring in my first Christmas pageant as a dancing doll. I'm wearing a red satin dress, white tights and shiny black shoes, and my mom has spent hours curling my hair just so. The finishing touch: a Christmas ribbon in my hair, and a Santa Claus pin on my dress that my grandfather gave me the year before. My father tells me I am like Cinderella at the ball, and I feel beautiful, like a princess.

During the pageant, I dance and sing, remember every line, every movement, and just when I think it can't get any better, the doors swing open, and in walks Santa, jolly like he should be, carrying a sack overloaded with presents. We all screech in delight, in excitement, 20 five-year-olds who cannot believe that of all the places Santa has to be, he has chosen this little schoolhouse in Shapleigh, Maine to visit.

He rushes to the stage, shouting Ho Ho and Merry Christmas, and begins pulling gifts out of his bag and calling names. I move a little closer and realize there is something familiar about this Santa...the way he giggles when he hands each child a present, the way his nose crinkles when he smiles, the way his hands look so soft and gentle, so familiar. And so I creep closer, look in his eyes, and realize those eyes look like home to me. He calls my name "Darlene" and as I get close enough to touch him, he winks at me and leans down to hand me my present.

I whisper in his ear "I know who you are Santa," and he squeezes my hand gently and whispers back to me "It's our secret Cinderella." And then he gives me a smile as big as Christmas and I give him back a little tiny kiss on his cheek, grab my present, and say "Merry Christmas Santa Claus."

And I feel like my heart will burst I am so full of happiness and love. I want to yell to all my friends "my Daddy is Santa Claus!!!" But there is something in the way he smiles at me that makes me keep it secret. It is a smile that he only gives to me, it is something between us that no one else in the world can have, and so I hold that smile, that secret, that moment, deep inside me. It is magical, and it is all mine.

He is my Christmas.


37 years later, he still is.
Love you Dad.
Merry Christmas.