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A WGREN Meditation for the Week of February 24, 2008
We can only sleep,
it is not true, no,
it is not the truth
that we came
to live forever on this earth.
For the grass of spring
our hearts are destined,
they will grew green again,
will open their petals;
for we are as a rose-tree
then withers away.
- King Nezahaulcoyotl
We are temporal beings, i.e., we live in time. There is a difference though between the time we live in and the time we conceive. Most languages divide temporal experiences into past, present and future. Despite its undeniable convenience this division is also problematic. It is rare that our minds are quite and reflective - rather our arduous and hectic outer lives translate into anxious and apprehensive inner lives. When we consider the past it is to regret - either what was done or left undone. When we contemplate the future it is to agonize over what we need to do or desire to accomplish.
All around us, at each moment and with each breath, is the entire earth (the entire universe) in all its majestic wonder . . . and where are we? Somewhere it that past we regret or in the future we dread. And since it receives no attention, all that we can experience, all that matters - the present - is lost forever (or worse, becomes one more regret).
The past is gone, it is impossible to change it, and while the past ought to teach us, it ought not to incapacitate us. The future is still to come and while it ought to guide us, it ought not to consume us. Zen Buddhism's emphasis on mindfulness - being in the moment - presents the antidote to both these obsessions, and it is essential to our happiness and spiritual development. In a quite literal sense all that we have is the moment - to waste it on regret or dread then is to lose what is most precious and unique. To live in the present is to live in the environment (whether human-built or natural) and to experience that environment as present and immediate to our senses - without all the normal psychological baggage that accompanies our lives.
Spring will soon be here and the flowers will emerge, trees and grass will become green again. We have a conscious decision to consider - will we continue to ignore the present moment and live in the past or future? Or will we engage those moments, experience them, lose ourselves in them? To the degree that we can do that, i.e., lose ourselves in the moment, the gain is immense - the entire earth that we live in and all the wonders it contains. Perhaps then we will begin to see how much that earth matters. And there can be no doubt that each moment we lose is lost forever. Since we do not live forever on this earth, ought we not to at least live while we are here?Mark H. Dixon
Department of Philosophy & Religion
Ohio Northern University
A WGREN Meditation for the Week of February 17, 2008
This week's meditation is from Kathleen Dixon's reflections on her daily walks:
I felt the approach of what some might call Folly. I prefer to think of it as the short term consequences of being felled by Beauty. Enjoying unseasonable warmth, I was tempted to run towards the siren song of spring. Days like this make me want to move at speed, delighted by the breeze. I am intoxicated by the light. I don't want to jog; I want to run with delighted abandon. Sadly this body won't cooperate. Age and ill use prohibit it. But, should I succumb, ready the Epsom Salts and a hot bath. Treat me tenderly. Not as an old fool overcome by a too early promise of spring. But as one still capable of offering a heart full of gratitude for the wonders the world holds.Beauty will come in the dawn
And beauty will come with the sunlight.
Beauty will come to use from everywhere,
Where the heaven ends, where the sky ends.
Beauty will surround us. We walk in beauty.
- Billy Yellow, Navajo Medicine Man, in David Maybury-
Lewis. Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World.
Kathleen M. Dixon
Department of Philosophy
Bowling Green State University
A WGREN Meditation for the Week of February 10, 2008
This week's meditation is another "activity meditation." It is intended to produce reflection by virtue of an activity or set of activities. You are invited to be purposeful in choosing the timing and number of activities. This exercise is rooted not in the Scriptures or writings of a holy tradition, but in a rebellious spirit.
Make a list of plants that you commonly see that force their way (perhaps boldly and exuberantly) into fruitful growth through cracks in a sidewalk or parking lot. This winter, look for such cracks or divisions in paved areas.
As spring approaches, get some seeds or 'starts' of the plants on your list, and plant them in your favorite sidewalk cracks. Let the errors of paving be the opportunities of planting. Don't forget to nourish the life of the world in your care.Wayne Albertson
Ada United Methodist Church
A WGREN Meditation for the Week of February 3, 2008
Nothing is without voice: God everywhere can hear
Arising from creation His praise and echo clear.
The more we let each voice sound forth with its own tone,
The more diverse will be the chant in unison.
The croaking of a frog to God appears as fair
As does the lark's sweet trill, which upward soars in air.
from The Cherubinic Wanderer
by Angelus Silesius
translated by Maria Shrady
For Angelus Silesius every component of the Cosmos is an echo of God: every star, every mountain, every lark, and even every frog. Every object and every living being has an essential voice in the great hymn of praise that the universe chants to its Creator. And we are called to enable each voice increasingly to sound forth as something precious in itself. This call takes on an urgency for us far beyond that which previous generations have known. Today we are faced with a loss of biodiversity on a global scale that rivals the losses of the great extinctions eons ago. Today the diversity of the universal song of praise is threatened as never before in historic times. Many of the fair voices of creation are in danger of being forever silenced. In our times of prayer we certainly need to listen to the inner silence, not only the silence of the heart within which the Spirit speaks, but especially the silence we are creating in the Cosmos, the silence of voices that have already disappeared. From such listening will come the courage and energy to preserve and perhaps to renew all the echos of God now in peril. Deep listening leads to saving action.
Department of Mathematics
Ohio Northern University