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It’s been a tough week since my last posting. Hard to believe that so many people’s lives have been turned upside down and so many are grieving. And that’s just the people we’ve heard about in the media. Many others are suffering who don’t attract media attention. In fact, most do not. Moment to moment someone is hearing news of a loss, or an illness, or a sadness that has taken them from their normal state of being to a completely different state of being…in a microsecond things have changed and nothing will ever the the same. Life is like that. Change is like that. We don’t always know when change will happen, and we like to think we have some measure of control over how and when it occurs. It’s the times when we don’t…have any measure of control…that turn our lives upside down. And it is in those times that the truth of our humanness is most evident.

This week the best and the worst of humanness has been calling my attention. Once again, as we see the faces of young people gone too soon and the “evil” that is responsible for taking them, we have the opportunity to make choices. Sadly I’ve witnessed some choices that are unthinkable to me…laying blame on the blameless, name-calling, racism, homophobia, extremism, hate. And I’ve seen heroism, kindness, unity, compassion and love. In some cases these incidents have brought people together; in others they have torn people apart. The dichotomy is startling since my first thought is always “how can I help?” rather than “who can I blame?”. The images and the discussions were too much for me at one point and I had to remove myself for a while to re-group my own energy and stamina for holding a higher space. After a 24-hour news sabbatical I returned with the resolve to look at the week’s events as an opportunity to be reminded of Presence.

Staying present in the moment is the only way I personally can manage the media onslaught. Present in my life, present with hope; present to breath and heartbeat; present with compassion and healing; present with forgiveness and vision for something so much better. I cannot control what anyone else will do in a given situation. I cannot change anyone’s deeply held convictions no matter how contrary they are to my own. I cannot take away the suffering or the pain I see in the faces of grieving parents and loved ones. I can only be present to life and be in a place of gratitude for the days I am given to live it. And living it, to me, means being fully present for all of the myriad experiences it provides. I can make the choice to bear witness to it all, with my heart open, my arms open, my mind open, my eyes…open. I can make the choice to help or blame. I can make the choice for Love. And in my view, Love always wins.

And so this week our stretch is about Presence.

STRETCH: Practice being present to whatever comes. Allow yourself to feel the feelings that arise, and give yourself space to feel them deeply. Be compassionate with yourself; be gentle with yourself. Hold space for healing, hope, gratitude, equanimity, and peace.

It is my deepest wish and hope that one day we will know that those we love are safe. Until then, may we all hold a vision for something so much better.

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