Thursday, September 04, 2014

As his zen koan sunk in...

"If you are given a mango. just eat it and enjoy the taste. Don't bother about the size of the tree or how many years it took to grow - otherwise you will miss the taste, the essence of mango-ness!"

While holding a glass of cool water - and then sipping it - my friend told me how much he LOVED that glass of water. He went on to describe it, noting that there are so many times in his life when a nice glass of cold water is the most refreshing drink he could have. Better than iced tea, he said, better than coffee - better than a beer! 

And I just continued to stare at him wondering what point he was attempting to make with his zen koan.  

When one is longing for a nice, tall glass of iced tea, however, that cold glass of water falls a little short. 

I spend too much time wondering why my glass of water isn't a Red Bull or Diet Coke. I can down a mango while wishing the whole entire time that I was eating a plum or a Granny Smith apple. 

Someone told me recently that she attended a conference where the speaker described relationships as a big bowl of spaghetti - with meatballs. The speaker went into detail about the nice, added extras that meatballs provide - and how meatballs are a must for the Italian dish. The meatballs complete the recipe, she told me exasperated. "It wasn't until then that I realized that I didn't have a single meatball in my spaghetti," she said dismayed.

In almost every area - or at least too many areas - I am thirsty or hungry for something more, wanting the extraordinary - the very best, the brightest, the most meaningful, the greatest love, the preeminent experience in every way. I forget that plain and simple water has its place - and in fact, water is good - IN FACT, a glass of water truly might be the best, given the situation! A good plate of spaghetti without the meatballs can be delicious - especially if one is a vegetarian! I should try to eat a Northern Spy instead of a Granny Smith!

"Stop expecting that this glass of water is going to be Guarana Antarctica (my favorite soft drink!)," my friend admonished me while taking another sip of the contents of his glass. "That person is a glass of water - nothing more. Let them be water. Enjoy the water! They CAN'T BE Guarana Antarctica!"

I sat and stared while his zen koan sunk in. 

Can I accept the provision of water when my heart desires something with a little more carbonation? Why do I consistently reach over the nectarines to gather the best purple plums? How would my life change if I simply accepted what unfolds before me - if I simply explored new tastes and textures and smells with appreciation for the provision and diversity. In this moment, when I think I NEED a Diet Coke, perhaps I can walk a shorter distance and fill my cup with icy water. 

And perhaps I can intentionally enjoy the water - appreciate the water for all that it brings instead of longing for something more.



Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Surrendering to the Guiding Hand...

I read this morning of an AA meeting in Kinsale, Ireland, where a man named Tony said, “If I had to choose among all the diseases that afflict human beings, I would choose mine [alcoholism], because I can do something about it.” At that meeting (as at each meeting) he introduced himself as “a grateful recovering alcoholic.” When asked why, he said, “Because without the Twelve Steps of this program I never would have found God.” Likewise, in the book of Job, that ruined man of God said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10) …

Job again!

I feel like I have bumped into him again and again in recent years. Why does it feel like this book in the bible was written for me?? Do I need any more proof that nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know?

The late Brennan Manning spoke to my heart this morning with this: "To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives—the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections—that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to this present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God."

Take 415 (415,000!).

Let's try this scene again. Relying on the Spirit of God more than my mind or sheer grit to get through the times we may not understand. I am too often assigning value to my circumstances. This is "good." That is "bad." "Bad" we too often push away and refuse to even acknowledge sometimes. We just want it to go away - or end. 

But I am just beginning to grasp that everything - and everyone - is a teacher, revealing areas within ourselves that need some redemption. Even those teachers who make us scream with frustration reveal our own shortcomings on the journey to becoming whole, to becoming more fully aware of His very presence in our lives. IF He is with us, we need not be so consumed with the externals.
I want to be more like my brother Job, like the late Brennan Manning - like the "grateful recovering alcoholic in Ireland" - more fully consumed by Love rather than consumed by all that makes me uncomfortable, resisting my circumstances that are merely challenges to my ego rather than gateways to a greater awareness of my soul. 

May my outer world become a sacred threshold to my inner journey.

He has brought me to this present moment...