Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sitting Still On A Moving Bus

Since September I've been commuting in to Boston three days a week for work, and on these three days I've taken to meditating on my way in and my way out. Now some might think that this is not the right place to take up a meditation practice--it's not a quiet and peaceful place by any stretch of the imagination! It's cramped and crowded, there's all the bumping and jostling, there's the road noise and the noise of the other commuters. A zendo it is not!

But then I think of the Zen temple I visited in Kyoto. Outside the zendo there is a place where icy cold water falls from the mountain ledges above. I was told that the senior monks often meditate there, beneath the waterfall, because it helps them to stay free from distraction to practice in such a distracting place. So maybe a bus isn't such an odd location to set up your cushion after all.

And, when you come to think of it, where can you find stillness anyway? The earth upon which you sit is spinning around its axis at aproximately 1,000 miles/hour. And the it's orbiting around around the sun at about 67,000 mph. The sun is also rotating around our galaxy at 559,000 mph, and the galaxy itself is rotating at approximately 492,000 mph.

So where in all that movement is the stillness? That's what I'm sitting to discover.

In Gassho,


Wednesday, January 21, 2009


This is from a NY Times article titled, "A Portrait of Change: in first family, a nation's many faces" --

For well over two centuries, the United States has been vastly more diverse than its ruling families. Now the Obama family has flipped that around, with a Technicolor cast that looks almost nothing like their overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly Protestant predecessors in the role. The family that produced Barack and Michelle Obama is black and white and Asian, Christian, Muslim and Jewish. They speak English; Indonesian; French; Cantonese; German; Hebrew; African languages including Swahili, Luo and Igbo; and even a few phrases of Gullah, the Creole dialect of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Very few are wealthy, and some — like Sarah Obama, the stepgrandmother who only recently got electricity and running water in her metal-roofed shack — are quite poor.

The inauguration of Barack Obama yesterday represents change in so many dimensions that I think it'll take quite a while for us to become aware of them all.

I am so moved.

In Gassho,


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

What an experience we, as individuals and as a nation, have just gone through! I was sitting with a number of my collegaues here at UUHQ, watching together as the 44th President was sworn in--I won't hesitate to acknowledge that I had tears running down my face.

I also had words running through my ears, other words than those being spoken on the dias. With apologies (if necessary) to my colleague the Rev. Kathleen McTigue (who wrote the original), I offer these words:

The inauguration of President Barack Obama is another day dawning, the sun rising as the sun always rises, the earth moving in its rhythms, with or without our calendars to name a certain day as the day of new beginning, separating the old from the new. So it is: everything is the same, bound into its history as we ourselves are bound.

Yet also we stand at a threshold, the new Administration something truly new, still unformed, leaving a stunning power in our hands: what shall we do with this great gift of a new era?

Let us begin by remembering that whatever justice, whatever peace and wholeness might bloom in our world this year, we are the hearts and minds, the hands and feet, the embodiment of all the best visions of our people. This new Presidency can be new ground for the seeds of our dreams.

Let us take the step forward together, onto new ground, planting our dreams well, faithfully, and in joy.

May it be so.

in Gassho,


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Amazed and Greateful

A colleague recently shared these words, apparently the conclusion of Barack Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope (which I’ll admit I haven’t yet read). I responded that, issues of race and heritage aside, I am amazed that we elected someone so eloquent. Amazed, and deeply grateful:

At night, the great shrine is lit but often empty. Standing between marble columns, I read the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address. I look out over the Reflecting Pool, imagining the crowd stilled by Dr. King's mighty cadence, and then beyond that, to the floodlit obelisk and shining Capitol dome.

And in that place, I think about America and those who built it. This nation's founders, who somehow rose above petty ambitions and narrow calculations to imagine a nation unfurling across a continent. And those like Lincoln and King, who ultimately laid down their lives in the service of perfecting an imperfect union. And all the faceless, nameless men and women, slaves and soldiers and tailors and butchers, constructing lives for themselves and their children and grandchildren, brick by brick, rail by rail, calloused hand by calloused hand, to fill in the landscape of our collective dreams.

It is that process I wish to be a part of.

My heart is filled with love for this country.

On January 20th we are inaugurating the presidency of a man -- a human man with flaws and failings like us all. I do not expect President Obama to be a messiah or some kind of political wizard or superhero who will make everything okay again. He is a human being, like any of us.

But he appears to be to be a very intelligent man. An eloquent man. A man who understands what oppression and intolerance look like from the inside and who still sees the potential and promise in our nation and our world.
I am amazed, grateful, and filled with hope.
In Gassho,