It took me being a parenthood to truly appreciate all the things my parents did for me, and continue to do for me. I did not realize how much time and energy it takes to raise a child…and it’s a good day if I can be fully present most of the time. I wish I had the energy of a 4 year old.
My daughter and I are on vacation in NC, and hanging out with my parents. We are taking little day trips from their house. We are eating like Kings and Queens. My father has lovingly mapped out our meals for the whole week.
I am so grateful that I can bring share these moments of joy with my parents. My father’s recent health scare made it very clear in a real and experiential way that our time together is limited, so I hope we can all enjoy these precious moments together the best we can.
My heart goes out to other families and folks, who are care givers to elderly parents having health problems or going through cognitive change. My dad’s challenges are more physical with the decline of his kidney function, but I’d be happy to engage in conversations or offer support in any way.
I work in the field of dementia care, and I also have experience as a chaplain walking with people and families through the journey of end-of-life. Thanks for reading. May a Loving Creator watch over you and your loved ones, and remind you that you are not alone.
The Buddha’s last words to “be a Lamp unto yourself,” and some translations of the Bible has Jesus saying “kingdom of God is within you.” We don’t have to look far for wisdom. Quakers believe that each person has the Divine Light within them, and part of sitting in silence is to truly listen and nurture that inner Light.
Buddhism makes sense to me on a practical way that sometimes my own Christian faith does not. It asks us to trust our experience that there’s no other authority or teacher than what’s happening right now, Charlotte Joko Beck beautifully captures this idea:
There is only one teacher. What is that teacher? Life itself. And of course each one of us is a manifestation of life; we couldn’t be anything else. Now life happens to be both a severe and an endlessly kind teacher. It’s the only authority that you need to trust. And this teacher, this authority, is everywhere. You don’t have to go to some special place to find this incomparable teacher, you don’t have to have some especially quiet or ideal situation: in fact, the messier it is, the better. (16, Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck)
So this is what I have been trying to do as I keep coming back to my practice. My meditation practice deepened about 6 years ago, but my daily sitting practice shifted with the birth of my daughter 3 years ago. I was no longer able to sit first thing in the morning…but I’m slowly reestablishing my daily sitting practice.
I am trying to work with the messiness of my life. There’s a lot I can learn from Buddhism as a Christian. The Christian monastics also live this reality of authentically encountering life, but for them they are encountering Christ in each other on a daily basis in community. What good is prayer, if you can’t love the brother who burnt your lunch?
Centering prayer and meditation seem similar and yet the intentions are very different. However, I personally find both practices deeply enriching and help me live a spiritual life as opposed to just believing in it as a theory.
When you’re young, you think you are immortal. We are taught the value of our lives lie in what we produce, and what we accomplish.
But at the end of the day, as you age, it’s not your possessions, wealth or prestige that matters.
The question at the tip of one’s tongue in old age is did I love well? Do they know I loved them? Do the ones I love love me? Unspoken moments of “I love you” are often the biggest regrets in our lives.