Monday, October 19, 2009

Acting As We Are Called

In early September, my husband, Rod, began reading online about Donald Masters, a Denver motorcyclist who “went missing” after filling his tank near Missoula on August 31st. Donald was finishing a long road trip, with a last stop planned in Boulder to meet his newborn granddaughter, Ella.

As efforts to find Donald intensified, Rod felt the urge to join the search, though he didn’t know exactly why. The task was daunting since no one knew Donald’s exact route. Looking for one man within a 250~mile radius~~the approximate miles a Goldwing can go on a tank of gas~~in some of the wildest territory of the country seemed futile.

Rod toyed with the idea for a day or two. Then he packed his old Toyota pickup, laid his mountain bike in the back to assist in such a painstaking endeavor, and headed off~~and found himself welcomed into a group of incredible people, forming significant relationships that otherwise would have been denied him.

A bond was formed with Larry, who hadn’t known Donald either, yet devoted untold hours from his home in New York, organizing the search effort via cell phone and Google Earth maps.

Several law enforcement officers touched Rod’s heart as they gently and attentively supported family and friends alike.

Tom, a DJ and member of the local search and rescue team, shared his technical knowledge while providing Rod with free meals and a place to stay.

Rod grew friendships with other searchers, including Raven, a motorcyclist who came all the way from Tucson to search for this man she likewise didn’t know.

And Rod grew close to members of Donald’s family, particularly his grown son, Noah, and stepson, Justin, as he searched with them for the body of their father. When the news came that, despite hope for another outcome, Donald's lifeless body had been found, Rod bore witness to their grief in ways too numerous and personal to share here.

Donald’s body was discovered near North Fork, Idaho on September 20th by two men who’d stopped to watch a herd of elk. His bike had run off Route 93 at a tricky curve near the Salmon River, just 10 miles from where Rod had searched the previous day.

At the memorial service we attended 2 weeks later, the various strands of Donald’s life intertwined as person after person paid tribute to this unique individual. Rod began to know better the man for whom he had so lovingly searched.

I found a point of connection as well. Recently, I wrote about Centering Prayer, a Christian form of meditation that has become an important part of my spiritual life. Now I learned that Donald had been instrumental in bringing Centering Prayer into the Recovery community, not only in Denver but across the nation. He recognized it as one expression of the 11th Step’s call to “improve our conscious contact with God”, and he enacted his own 12th Step by introducing it to other addicts.

At the reception following the service, Rod was the recipient of love and gratitude by those who cherished Donald. He~~and me, by extension~~ were absorbed into a family we had not known existed a few weeks earlier. Communication has continued since, in online forums, by email and phone, and through Rod spending additional time with Donald’s loved ones, welcomed again into the inner workings of a grieving family.

There is a great sadness that Donald’s life has ended; yet, in death he brought valuable lessons about the power of love and connection, and the importance of acting as we feel called. It certainly would have been easier for Rod to have stayed home. But oh, what he would have missed!

When a prompting arises from a deep place and just feels right, we need to respond. It doesn’t matter if the cause seems hopeless or its outcome not as we would like. We act anyway~~doing simply what’s ours to do~~and trust that, though the results may not be known to us, something good will come.

I wish you each a wonderful few weeks acting as you feel called.


Loanne Marie

Monday, October 5, 2009

Watering Seeds

Buddhist psychology offers a helpful metaphor for transforming our lives: the concept of watering seeds.

Imagine a circle as a symbol of an individual’s consciousness. Now see this circle bisected by a horizontal line roughly a third of the way down. The area above the line is referred to as mind consciousness, while the lower portion is termed store consciousness.

All the potentialities of a human being reside in store consciousness. Here can be found seeds of joy, anger, generosity, sadness, compassion, cruelty, and numerous others. While in store consciousness, these seeds lie dormant and have no effect on our lives. Once a particular seed is triggered, however, it rises up and enters our mind consciousness.

At this point, an energy is manifested that influences our lives, although we are not necessarily aware of its effect. After a period of time, depending on the situation, this seed sinks back into store consciousness where it awaits another activation. The more often a seed is watered, the more easily it will be activated. Conversely, the longer a seed remains dormant, the harder it will be for that seed to manifest in our lives.

According to this framework, a person who is generally kind has had the seed of kindness watered frequently, either by others, by life circumstances, or by their own conscious choice. A person who is often judgmental has, likewise, had that seed watered repeatedly. It rises at the least provocation and influences not only the person’s actions, but his or her experience of life itself.

This conceptualization of human consciousness provides a way to approach the task of managing our human tendencies. It is helpful to take an inventory to discover which seeds~~positive and negative~~have been watered or neglected by our life experiences. Doing so activates the seed of clarity as we come to recognize more clearly the forces that shaped us and, most importantly, the choices available to us now.

We can choose to water our positive seeds so they will manifest in our lives more frequently and with greater strength. And once a wholesome energy is present in our mind consciousness, we can act in ways to nourish that quality so it will remain longer and return more easily.

But what about those other seeds? In this view, every negative human tendency is available to us all. However, we each have a few harmful seeds that have grown rather robust from repeated watering. We can become aware of these troubling seeds as they activate. Rather than watering them further, we can choose to stop and look deeply into our reaction to understand its true nature.

We can learn how and why we were triggered. With appropriate caretaking and deep listening, the energy expressed through the original seed becomes devoted to the task of managing and transforming our experience. As its animating power is withdrawn, the negative seed drops into inactivity once more.

This is not an easy practice, but it is a wonderful one. Our growing awareness leads us to tailor our lives so our positive seeds are activated more frequently, while negative ones rest longer in dormancy.

Whatever our spiritual path, we can walk it more fully when we wisely and lovingly tend these gardens of ours. As our beneficial seeds sprout and flower, in our own small way~~through consciously tending these tiny plots of ours~~we become a clearer channel for Spirit’s expression in the world.

Happy gardening!

Loanne Marie