From the Minister, Thu Sep 27

As I write this on Thursday afternoon, it's been a day of Senate testimony for Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. The experience raises my anxiety -- about the future of the Senate, the Supreme Court, my country. Wendell Berry has helpful words for such times when "despair for the world grows in" us.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Whatever happens in politics, our job is the same: to love; to do what we can for justice and let go of the rest. It might help us do that to take an occasional break to be with ducks and herons -- or perhaps just stroll among some trees.

Yours in faith,

The Liberal Pulpit / New this week:
Index of past sermons: HERE. Index of other reflections: HERE. Videos of sermons are on the Liberal Pulpit Youtube Channel: HERE
Practice of the Week: Respond, Don't React / The key point is to make it a priority to feel good, to look for everyday opportunities for peacefulness, happiness, and love, and to take all the little moments you can to marinate in well-being. Each time you rest in your brain's responsive mode, it gets easier to come home to it again. That's because "neurons that fire together, wire together" stimulating the neural substrates of calm, contentment, and caring strengthens them. This also makes it harder to be...READ MORE.
Your Moment of Zen: Mosquito / An exercise: Imagine a mild, bearable discomfort -- like a mosquito biting, say, or waiting for a bus in the cold when you didn't wear a heavy enough coat. Now reflect on the beauty and wonder of that very moment of discomfort. Love the annoyance. All the mystery of the universe is right there in that moment. Don't you feel it?

With the mosquito's proboscis, Raven moved from "thought I understood" to "at last able to appreciate the mystery." It's not that she hadn't understood before. It's that appreciating the mystery is different from understanding a line.

​One night after a meeting, the Tallspruce community lingered in the dark under the stars, and Raven reminisced about her time with Brown Bear.
"I remember," she said, "one day when I wasn't feeling well, and Brown Bear Roshi had me rest in her cave. Somehow it was a special gathering place for mosquitoes. One of them suspended herself before my face. She was almost not there -- so fragile, her long threadlike legs hanging down motionless. I marveled that she was a living being with appetites and incentive, yet hardly more than gossamer."
Raven continued, "When we chant the Heart Sutra, we recite, 'Form is no other than emptiness; emptiness no other than form.' Sometime earlier, when I was looking up at the night sky, I thought I understood that line, but when I was resting in Brown Bear's lair and I felt that mosquito sink her long proboscis in my face, I was at last able to appreciate the mystery."
The package deal of appetites and incentive --
Hunger-satiation, fear-security,
Lust-orgasm -- arrives as advertised,
Home delivered, and throughout the neighborhood,
Sensations of
Mosquito bites, tea, sky, paper cuts
Thrown in, no extra charge.
The promise of essence, independent and abiding,
is never kept, nor was ever made.
Read again the fine print,
The fine, fine print.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon

Zen at CUUC: Sat Sep 29

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