Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Feet Kissing the Earth

Ocean Sunset

Now that Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I see more and more online postings about the things for which people are thankful in life. 

I must say that my own list of thanksgivings is actually quite long.  The Pacific Ocean is only a few hours away from our desert home, and we are spending a few days here. From the wild and beautiful desert to the magnificent vista of the ocean at sunset, people I love, a beautiful home -  I almost can't begin to list all the things for which I am thankful. 

Yesterday as I sat and watched the sun set over the ocean, feeling very grateful for my life, I heard the TV set in the background. The evening news was on and they were interviewing some people from the Philippines who had literally lost everything in the recent killer typhoon. Their home was gone, friends and relatives had been killed, and there was no access to medical care.

I went in to watch the report and suddenly began to feel somewhat guilty for my good fortune. That family on the TV would not be appreciatively sitting back and looking at an ocean sunset. 

And then the reporter asked a very telling question to one of the women being interviewed: "You must feel so devastated..are you angry? To which she simply responded, "Saint Paul once said, be thankful in all circumstances." 

That one simple response put it all in perspective for me. That very wise lady may have been quoting Saint Paul, but her answer was also very Buddhist.

Very little (if anything) in this life can be controlled.  Only persons with very bloated egos believe that they can make life happen according to their own agenda. 

The ocean flows, sometimes it is beautiful, while at other times the waves rage and there is very little you can do about it. There are good times and there are bad times. We get sick and we are healthy. We experience good fortune and problems come our way.  "It is what it is." 

As I sat and watched the ocean and heard the story of that now homeless family on the other side of the world, I thought abut that response of that one woman. I think it's quite true. Instead of railing against the circumstances of life, in all things we can indeed be "thankful."

We can be thankful because, come what may, we are never alone. We human beings are all in this beautiful wilderness of life together - all intertwined and interconnected and interdependent in our human condition. And an ever abiding Holy Presence is with us in it all -  a universal force of love intimately abiding with us in all the circumstances of life.

Thich Nhat Hanh, one of my favorite Buddhist teachers, once said:

Walk as if, in every step you take, you are kissing the Earth with your feet

This is such a powerful image for me. Every step we take is a kiss. When we walk in the good times and in the bad times, when we seem to have it all and when we have lost everything, when the ocean is calm and when the waves wildly rage, we kiss the earth with "every" step we take. Maybe another way of putting it is, "Be thankful in all circumstances."

So I, for one, won't be making a list of the things for which I am thankful this year. I am thankful for whatever comes my way.

As I walk along on this life journey in this Thanksgiving season, I will be watching my feet and remembering that in every step I take that I am kissing the earth.


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