Finding Hidden Light

DSC04645Even when I take a break from news and social media, I’m still immersed in the realities of the world, just by walking around my neighborhood.

This picture was taken on a chilly late October afternoon. I wasn’t able to ascertain if the two people sleeping on a grating were migrants or crack addicts, but I was struck by the fact that a kind soul had left them fresh bread and fruit. This is a constant in my area: people’s concern for the less fortunate, even when it’s challenging.

At a local town hall meeting this fall to address the consequences of drug trafficking on our streets, local residents and shop owners were concerned about being accosted by hostile beggars,  dealers occupying their entrances and parking facilities, addicts lighting up crack pipes along the sidewalks in broad daylight, sleeping in our hallways and using them for toilets, the effect on businesses and children walking to and from school in this atmosphere… but also worried about these human beings and their welfare. Police and town council members were present at the meeting, but also associations creating safe houses for poly-addicts to get sterile syringes, spend the night indoors, get medical attention and a chance at starting over. Amazing. The police explained that by law, addiction is considered an illness and when someone is picked up for drug trafficking, they are given shelter and counseling by the court system…

In this vein, here’s a quote from an interview with Rachel Naomi Remen, a story told to her by her grandfather:

“This is the story of the birthday of the world. In the beginning, there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. Then, in the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light. And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident. [laughs] And the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. And the wholeness in the world, the light of the world, was scattered into a thousand thousand fragments of light. And they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day.

Now, according to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people; to lift it up and make it visible once again and, thereby, to restore the inate wholeness of the world. This is a very important story for our times — that we heal the world one heart at a time. This task is called “tikkun olam” in Hebrew, “restoring the world.”  

http://onbeing.org/programs/rachel-naomi-remen-the-difference-between-fixing-and-healing-nov2018/

Always looking for hidden light…

xxxxxx Aliss

Noticing (updated 11/11/17)

DSC03876 (1)Funny sidewalk face, Place des Vosges, on a recent autumn day…

Blog has been in slomo for several days, busy busy with other writing projects and life…

As promised, thoughts about noticing:

Since the Paris attacks two years ago, I’ve been meditating every day to stay calm and raise my vibes, in various ways. Tibetan compassion mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum:

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Also the Oprah/Chopra (W&D) meditation series, which I highly recommend. It’s freeeee (and there are lots of free sample meditations to try out), and you can subscribe if you want to redo, which I do:

http://www.chopra.com/articles/guided-meditations

http://chopracentermeditation.com/

Then there’s the On Being site, with (not too shabby!) meditations by Sylvia Boorstein, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat-Zinn and others:

http://onbeing.org/blog/sylvia-boorstein-a-lovingkindness-meditation/

And last but not least, Krista Tippet’s On Being interview with Ellen Langer, who says we don’t have to meditate to get the same and better results. To be mindful (instead of mindless) all we have to do is NOTICE. Notice 5 new things about our significant other, about our job, about our neighborhood on our daily walks (see above, that’s what photography does for me):

http://onbeing.org/programs/ellen-langer-science-of-mindlessness-and-mindfulness-nov2017/

…and question all our assumptions and received ideas… Her outlook reminds me of climate activist David Gershon’s minute-to-minute life question, “What’s possible?”

http://www.thetrumpantidote.com/interview-david-gershon.html

And Empowerment activist Gail Straub putting on “John Lennon’s glasses”

http://www.thetrumpantidote.com/interview-gail-straub

Noticing noticing noticing…

To be continued… xxxxx Aliss

Summer Days

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Waterfall, Hurley Mountain Road, NY

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

Thank you Krista Tippett for the reminder

July 14th, France (2)

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Flag at half mast on my street, third day of national mourning for Nice…

Finished listening to the On Being podcast mentioned in previous post, “Being Peace in a World of Trauma,” interviews conducted in 2003 and reposted on Thursday in response to the recent shootings of police in Dallas and in sync with Black Lives Matter.  Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Master, does begin saying suffering is a necessary part of life, then at the end of the interview, speaks of humanity’s potential for awakening. His own life, leading mindfulness retreats in the US, literally loving his country’s former enemies, is a lesson in itself. The second interview features Cheri Maples, a cop for 19 years, then in charge of training for the Madison WI police department, who co-organized a retreat for her colleagues with TNH. Her compassion for her fellow officers and the people they deal with is enlightening and very moving. Larry Ward is an African American businessman, speaking about his experience through the prism of mindfulness.

Healing antidote to fear-mongering media. Can’t recommend it highly enough, especially the unedited versions. Perspective and hope. Thank you Krista Tippett. xxxxx Aliss

http://bit.ly/29yAcst