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Category Archives: Love

Full Moon 9:17

We were fortunate last night to see the full moon rise from the Atlantic ocean – huge, orange, gorgeous! We practiced movements from Moonlight Qi Gong to celebrate and connect with nature. Then we recited the Five Awarenesses for our monthly renewal of wedding vows:

1. We are aware that all generations of our ancestors and all future generations are present in us.
2. We are aware of the expectations that our ancestors, our children and their children have of us.
3. We are aware that our joy, peace, freedom and harmony are the joy, peace, freedom and harmony of our ancestors, our children and their children.
4. We are aware that understanding is the very foundation of love.
5. We are aware that blaming and arguing never help us and only create a wider gap between us, that only understanding, trust and love can help us change and grow.

If you would like to practice growing in understanding and love for your partner, join us in a brand new class this fall for COUPLES! We will meet for 4 sessions every other Wednesday beginning October 18 at the Takoma Park Community Center. Find out more about this class  Waking Up Together – on our website with a link to register with TPCC. Space is limited, so early registration is recommended. We look forward to practicing with you!

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Together we are ONE” was the theme of our gatherings Friday and Saturday, January 20/21 for a mindful presence at the Women’s March.  Washington Mindfulness Community, MPCF, Stillwater, ARISE, Wake UP, sanghas from Baltimore and many others, local and national, organized and led us in silent walking to the mall.  There we formed a circle of about 140 meditators, then did mindful walking, sitting, singing and eating together amidst half a million other sisters and brothers.  We rejoiced when we learned that we were part of over 670 marches around the world, in every US state, on every continent, standing up for justice, peace and love.

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Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh was present in the form of a large photo, reminding us to keep coming back to the home of our breath, here and now, in the present moment.

In Together We are One  (Parallax Press, 2010, p. 79),  he says “Sometimes we believe, ‘Until this person or that institution changes, I can’t be happy.’   We may make a particular person or group of people into our enemy, we think they are the obstacle to our happiness.  But our suffering comes from our own ignorance and lack of understanding, not from other people.  When we understand this, we can open our arms to embrace all peoples, all species, and we have no enemies.  To have no enemies is such a wonderful thing.  When we have no enemies, no reproach, and no blaming, our mind is light as a cloud, and our happiness is vast, immense.  We do not look at those who hurt us as our enemies, but as people who need understanding and compassion.  When we are able to look in this way, we can call ourselves the children of the Buddha, disciples of the Buddha, and no one is our enemy….If we use the eyes of compassion to look at the world, we can see that even those who oppress and exploit others, those who instill terror, or those who cause harm, can be our beloved ones.  None are our enemies.”

Those of you who remember me as the “mini-skirted nun” of 1969 protests and actions will smile.  Have you truly embraced this teaching, you might ask?  I am transforming, trying, stumbling sometimes, gaining tremendous strength, joy and hope from the millions who walk with me, one day at a time, one step at a time, never alone now, always “Together as ONE.”

Photos by Bao Tich Nguyen

 

 

J-QG on beach

My favorite place to practice Sunlight Qi Gong is the seashore at sunrise.  My husband and I had the surprise opportunity this week to stay at a friend’s home there for a couple of days to celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary.  Touching sand, ocean and sky, breathing in fresh morning air, my heart opens with gratitude, a smile comes alive, greeting the rising sun.

When I die, please don’t see my passing as a tragedy.  It cannot be.  I have lived so many lives already, loved so deeply, been loved so beautifully and faithfully.  I am grateful for every extra moment of life, every sunrise, sunset, wave of the ocean, every breath, every moment with family and friends, every opportunity to tell my beloved how much I love him.

 

 

Daddy - best without border

Thomas Lyle Malone (9-9-09 to 4-8-86)                         Photo by Joann

 

Today would have been my father’s 106th birthday had he not died a terrible death 30 years ago.  His smile and kind eyes still reach me in this photo from one of the last years of his life.  I know he loved me to the best of his ability.  Today I still feel his love sustaining me in my healthy body, my love for reading and study, my ability to work hard and laugh at myself, my search for the divine in people, stars and sunrises.  He continues in me, my brothers, his five remaining grandchildren, five great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.  Most of us have life because of him.  Thank you, Daddy!  Thank you, Mother.

For many years I was angry at him, wished he would change, wished he had never taken a drink of alcohol, wished he could take care of himself and not suffer so much.  Slowly, as I realized my own powerlessness, as I began to meditate on his suffering, my heart opened, softened.  I forgave myself and him for many harms done to one another.  Today, I relish walking with him in meditation, holding his hand, comforting him, letting him know how happy and free my life is.  If I can breathe, walk, eat, laugh, play, live and love, he can continue to breathe, walk, eat, laugh, play, live and love in me and all his descendants.  My happiness is his happiness.  My freedom is his freedom.  My life continues his life.

 

 

 

 

 

Butterfly Museum with my granddaughter-life, so beautiful, so fleeting it seems

Butterfly Museum with my granddaughter-life, so beautiful, so fleeting it seems.

My son, daughter in law and granddaughter are in the air for a two day trip half way around the world.  We might not see them again for a year, a very long time in a grandmother’s life.  I miss them terribly already, yet the joy of their two week visit is evidenced throughout our home.  Photos from two birthday parties, a christening yesterday in Baltimore of Pat’s grand niece and numerous adventures in museums and waterfront cafes with wonderful friends and family.  I shared with some friends at a meeting on Friday (another joyous celebration) that I’ve found joy nestled within the greatest sorrows.  In fact, joy and sorrow have become not separate, different entities in my life, but the same experience viewed with different attitude, viewpoint, perspective.

During one of his powerful talks, Thich Nhat Hanh (www.plumvillage.org) showed us a piece of paper and said, one side is joy and the other our suffering.  They are not different, separate entities or experiences.  They are the same.  Without our suffering, our challenges in life, how could we find the depth of acceptance, compassion and love that infuses our joy and happiness?  Without a deep inner happiness based on the oneness we have with others, with the whole Universe, how could we endure our suffering?

I might find some tears and longing in my heart today, a bit of fear for their safety and well-being, a desire to cling to them, hold them here close to us.  But it has always worked best with my son to “let him go,” allow him all the freedom to explore, work, learn and be the dedicated person he is in his work to alleviate poverty in Asia and other parts of the world.  I ask that my heart continue to grow with the love he inspires in me, to keep encompassing all people I meet, to treat them with the same respect and love I have for him, his beautiful wife and precious daughter.

I sing “Please Call me by my True Names”:

“My joy’s like spring so warm, it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.

My pain’s like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once.

So I can hear that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up

and the door of my heart will be left open.

The door of compassion.”

 

 

 

 

Claymnt back

“Embracing, Loving and Accepting Ourselves Just as We ARE, with All our Imperfections, All our Experiences”

 

We should do “before” and “after” photos of the women’s retreats. Several women were going through traumatic or very difficult changes in their lives, one not wanting to live, one describing her feelings as 99% of the time feeling as if her skin is being peeled off with a vegetable peeler 24/7.  The Powers of the Universe helped us create a big enough “ocean” of love, understanding, healing, positive energies to absorb the pain, at least for the weekend, to give hope, an intense experience of what peace, rest, joy and connection with other women feels like. Even those of us who weren’t currently experiencing such deep pain had done so in the past, or could “take names” of those who were suffering our worst fears. Seeing their survival, strength, vulnerability and reaching out for help, makes it more possible for us if/when we lose a child to drug addiction, suffer a dangerous divorce, have our house burn down, face fatal diseases or take a deadly drink. Together we can go through any human suffering, knowing that others have survived the same experience, that help is available, that there is a path to transform suffering into happiness.

It feels so GOOD to be any part of such transformation. And Ruth and I benefit every time! We receive what we are trying to give others – renewed commitment to daily meditation practice, journaling, stopping in our daily lives to breathe, take care of ourselves, rest, reflect on questions like “Is it true?” when something, someone disturbs us. We are not on this path of spiritual transformation alone. And the journey never stops. I’ve been on three retreats, many other group meditations and have practiced mindfulness daily in the past month. Yet I know I will need many more retreats (planning for six in the next year), my regular three days a week with sangha, daily journaling, Qi Gong and meditation with my husband and many other resources to stay on the path, to keep growing, learning, developing my mind, body and heart. This is our life! What a great life!

claymont front

In front of Claymont Court, WV, our weekend home

January’s moon revisits us tonight, April 17, 2011

We celebrate each full moon with a vow renewal ceremony we learned in Plum Village on a retreat. After a beautiful Touching the Earth ceremony with our sangha, the Washington Mindfulness Community, and two sitting meditation sessions, we came home and realized that we could end the day with our Full Moon Ceremony. Tonight’s full moon is very bright in a mostly clear sky with occasional clouds that lend even more mystery.

The ceremony is very simple and takes only a few minutes. We light a candle at the kitchen window with a view of the moon, sound the bell we were given by my son’s father as a wedding gift and recite the Five Awarenesses:

1. We are aware that all generations of our ancestors and all future generations are present in us.
2. We are aware of the expectations that our ancestors, our children, and their children have of us.
3. We are aware that our joy, peace, freedom and harmony are the joy, peace, freedom and harmony of our ancestors, our children and their children.
4. We are aware that understanding is the very foundation of love.
5. We are aware that blaming and arguing never help us and only create a wider gap between us, that only understanding, trust and love can help us change and grow.

The moon slides behind a cloud, but we are aware it is here, that we are here, interconnected.

Full Moon 1:4:15

Reposted 1-4-15

 

martin-luther-king-pictures

“It was an army into which no one had to be drafted, it was white and Negro, and of all ages…It was a fighting army, but no one should mistake that its most powerful weapon was love.”   Martin Luther King, Jr “Why We Can’t Wait,” 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been 85 years old yesterday had he not been assassinated in 1968.  Yet he is alive in every one of us who were deeply affected by his voice, his hopeful message and courageous actions to defeat segregation and the oppression of African-Americans.  He changed my life forever, especially once I was able to experience living in the city where he carried on his long and effective bus boycott.

My first teaching assignment in 1963 as a Catholic nun was to a small diocesan school in Montgomery, Alabama.  I traveled there by train, educationally armed with knowledge about social justice, but naive about the lengths to which people with power and privilege would go to protect their interests.  In August, the March on Washington had opened my eyes further.  But the September bombing of the church in Birmingham that killed four girls, in the city where I first experienced a segregated train station just two weeks earlier, shook my being.

I was teaching in an all white Catholic high school of 300 students – in a city in which less than one percent of the population was Catholic.  The black Catholic high school -St. Jude’s – had 150 students. What sense did this make?  Wouldn’t it be more economical, more just, more sane to have one Catholic school, combining student populations and resources?  I started an integrated baseball team, urging students from both schools to get to know one another, practice together, talk to resistant parents.  It was a simple effort, but threatening enough that I was transferred the next year, a different person.  I realized that I had grown up in the same racist, segregated system in Missouri, just without the “whites only” signs.  I had changed inside, come to love and understand both my white students and African American students, their fears and their courage.  I would tell their stories, become the voice of Martin and other revolutionary leaders for my students back in Missouri and throughout my teaching career.

In the same year that MLK wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and led the March on Washington, I changed from an ordinary nun into a revolutionary activist.  Martin’s words and actions, along with those of his friend Thich Nhat Hanh, whom he nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1966, slowly but surely led me to the 1969 action in DC against the war in Vietnam.  These next few years will be filled with so many 50th anniversaries of changes in our lives.  Hopefully we will continue the fight for justice, peace and unity, using the powerful weapon of love

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I love being a human being, having a brain, a heart, imagination, memory, senses, love for other humans, connections with them, feelings that come and go, the ability to see, touch and be delighted by other humans, by sunlight (it’s coming today, they say, after days of rain and cold), by mountains, oceans, rivers, trees, flowers.

When I hear the “Heart of the Paraprajnamita” (no ears, no nose, no eyes, no mouth, no body or mind), I know that I also have a deeper, higher life within me that does not need the senses to be awakened, or that has used the senses for many years to touch a place that cannot be taken away, a Mind, a Heart, a Love that is beyond this body and mind with which I am so familiar and consider “me.”  I get to touch it every day if I remember, am mindful, aware, in reality.

I don’t really want to die because I can’t (with my limits) quite trust that there could be anything better than this world, this body and mind, this moment.  I know that in this moment is everything, all people, all life, all human history, all thought, all courage and hope.  Time and space converge in this moment and place in the Universe.  The convergence can happen anywhere, but for “me” (whatever that is), it is right here, right now, in this body, with these eyes, this heart, this mind.  How glorious!  The particular is universal and the Universal manifests in each tiny cell of my body and each tiny cell of every flower on earth, every child, every sunbeam.  WOW!  I love life, the mystery and beauty of it all.

Thank you, Universe, for me, for life, for all the people, places and things I love in this vast world.  At this moment there is nothing I don’t love.  Nothing for which I am not grateful.  Even the worse experiences of my life have become precious gifts, the nastiest people my teachers.  Thank you for this moment of Love

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Last weekend, I “came home” in physical, emotional and spiritual ways at a retreat at Conception Abbey, two hours drive north of my home town.   I brought my brother who had never participated in a Buddhist retreat but was also drawn to this abbey where my father had studied for the priesthood and met my mother.  Without this powerful center and all the conditions there, we would not exist.  We were visiting our family roots, our spiritual roots, our land roots, even the roots of our childhood praying, eating and breathing habits.

The four days were rich with miracles that will prompt much writing, but let me begin with these:

* The convergence of my ancestors, walking the paths where my father and his four brothers studied for the priesthood, driving through the “town” nearby where my mother was born.

* The new information about our family from monks who knew my uncles, Fr. Edward and Fr. Michael, meeting Fr. Joachim, a 94 year old monk in the infirmary, who told us many stories of the ‘30s at the abbey.  At the end of our interview, we realized that we were cousins!

* Taking pictures of the graves, of Conception Junction and Clyde (now just a few houses amidst rolling hills, cornfields and wind generators) and of the beautiful basilica, one of the few in the country, dedicated in 1891.

* Finding archives with books written by and about our relatives.

But all this research and interviewing took place after two full days and nights of the retreat led by Joanne Friday, one of my favorite teachers in Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition.  Led by her powerful talks on mindfulness and finding our true home in our breath, my brother and I participated fully in the silence at meals, overnight and most of the day except for conferences with Joanne and our small group sharing.  He was very respectful of the silence, the routine of mindful movements, sitting meditation, deep listening and mindful walks outdoors and indoors.  We enjoyed meeting the Heartland community members (with whom I hope he will find a new home).

We were able to share a room and get along, feel comfortable, even though we had never done anything like this together before.  We hadn’t seen one another in five years, had probably never slept in the same room.  Our lives have taken very different paths, but this wonderful retreat gave us an opportunity to be at home with one another.  We smiled in silence at some of the food that reminded us of our childhood roots in the Midwest – mashed potatoes, over-cooked green beans, fresh-baked cinnamon rolls.

The messages of the retreat were powerful for both of us.  Joanne said that “from the moment of birth, we get pulled away from our basic goodness,” that “all people have within themselves the capacity to be enlightened.”   She transmitted what she has learned and embodied from her teacher and experienced in her own recovery from a brain injury – “Be still and heal.”  Throughout the weekend, I felt the presence of my mother, father, uncles and teachers, both Catholic and Buddhist.  The powerful Midwestern wind energy drew my brother and me closer, healing family suffering, embracing us as children, allowing us space in our aging years to enjoy one another now.  The retreat leader told me that the love between us was palpable.

We had ARRIVED, we were HOME, in the HERE and in the NOW.