Throughout the month of March, I have been speaking and teaching about the spiritual power of brokenness. Despite a thriving stock market, there seem to be holes everywhere. It almost as if we have a cross between an elephant and a kangaroo, a giant beast of misfortune, stomping big holes around the world. The Middle East is on fire with protest. Totalitarian governments are responding by shooting their people. And we are of course ever mindful of our sisters and brothers in Japan, so many thousands who have died in the Tsunami and the dreaded cloud of radioactivity that threatens the very life of the Rising Sun.
What amazes me most about the Japanese is how courageously they are living their lives even as they stumble from one hole to the next in their brokenness. Hanging on a stand in the chancel of our church are a thousand paper cranes, once folded by our children for our partner church in New Orleans, which now stand as a silent prayer of strength for our Japanese brethren.
The Japanese know, as the Buddha so long ago taught, that our brokenness is our first reality. The many holes these brave people are falling into and climbing out of is life. And yet, we live our lives not in the holes, but around them.
The Buddha would agree. Reality is an illusion. What we suffer is only a momentary sensory hiccup in the true emptiness of the universe. If we see the holes we fall into as illusions, we are suddenly free from trying to get out. The holes will vanish in time.
All of this is true in a sense. As the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich reminds us:
"Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us—a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of things shall be well"
We live and die, and eventually we cease suffering, we cease from falling into the holes of our lives. Falling gracefully, we are released.
With Grace and Grit, John