Reflection: “Be a Lamp unto Yourself”

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.

Reflection: Life

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.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/age/

Lenten Reflection: Jesus that Laughs

Painted in 2011, eunsung kim

 “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” Luke 6:21.

 As a boy growing up in the church, the Season of Lent was always a serious time.  A time to roll up your sleeves and really delve into your faith, and commit to deepening my faith with God.  Somewhere along the way, I picked up message that being a follower of Christ means being austere and serious, I make a sacrifice to give up things that are holding me from fully trusting in God.  While, some of the messages I picked up as a child about faith was true; a lot of my journey of deepening my faith in God has been to discard old ideas, and be willing to experience a God, beyond my limited understanding, here and now midst my own joys and sufferings.

I always thought Jesus was so serious, but I now imagine him being someone with profound joy and capacity for laughter that cuts through the heart of the matter.  My own experience has been that often the folks that have experienced the most profound suffering and sorrow have a great capacity to love, and to embrace moments of joy when they appear in our lives.  When Christ tells us that “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh;” Jesus is not only speaking to us who grieve and journey through loss, but his blessing includes himself.  Jesus knows firsthand what it is like to carry deep sorrow, and pain; we too feel overwhelmed and burdened by the responsibility of life, and walk sometimes with very heavy steps.

However, Jesus kept moving forward, even though he knew where the road would lead him.  He continued to do the work of the Father, kept teaching his often thick headed disciples, and kept on loving the people in his life.  Jesus touched, healed, laughed, cried, and shared life with the lepers, the forgotten, and despised people of his time and culture.

We do not have to weep, because our journey does not end in the cross.  We believe in a Risen Christ, and know in our hearts joyful tears knowing Christ has risen, and our weeping can truly be transformed into joyous laughter.  It is hard in the midst of grief to see what lies ahead, but remember friends you are not alone, Jesus who knows your inner most pain walks with you.

 Prayer

O Jesus, be with us as we walk through the joys and pains of life.  May our weeping be transformed into laughter: a deep knowing laughter of your strength and love.  Amen.