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Esteemed Reader: July 2010 

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Esteemed Reader of Our Magazine:

Come, Come whoever you are,
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving,
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come…

It begins again.
In the mythology of western religion there was a beginning. Heaven and earth arrived and then a proclamation: Let there be light! In a newer gospel, the beginning was a word. From light and sound everything that exists came into being.

Let us not misunderstand that parable by seeing it through the time-bound perspective of Flatlanders. In the grand scheme, time and space, and everything born from that marriage, are of a piece. There is only One, and that one has always been, and always will be; and all of it—past, present, and future—exists concurrently.
Look at the microcosm of the body. Millions of cells are born, live, and die in the course of a life, but the body continues as a discrete, singular entity, with a resident consciousness that calls itself “I”. From the standpoint of a cell, the life of the body is eternity.

The beginning is always now. It begins again.

Walking in the woods on the first day of summer, thoughts arise—eager, active thoughts of the new leaves I will turn and old habits to break. Just now, an owl flies across the path and lands on a limb. She looks at me with charcoal black eyes, stopping all thought. She utters a piercing scream, and flies into the trees.
And into my mind comes John Lennon singing to his young son: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

I begin again to follow my breath, savoring air, sensing feet in shoes and the sound of sneakers padding on the mountain trail.

It begins again.

Each Friday evening my family marks the end of the week with a small ritual, generally drawn from the Jewish tradition. We welcome the Sabbath and bless and drink wine. And then we wash our hands in preparation for the meal. Sometimes we don’t even use water—we use the stuff of intention to wash away all the baggage of the week. We release everything we have said in anger or joy, everything we have thought, suffered, and done, and rubbing hand over hand, allow ourselves to become empty and ready for the new cycle.

It begins again.

Our world is out of balance, with humanity destroying the beautiful garden that is home, that is earth, like so many parasites consuming and poisoning, even as we kill our host. Following the news we see primitive, tribal social structures and purposeless activity pervading every aspect of life.  In the face of this, hope is difficult to muster. Where to go from this seeming dead end?

The current pulls from one non-choice to another. But occasionally something like grace enters, and a chance is given to choose. In those moments we may remember what we wish for—peace, connection, truth, justice, integrity, abundance, love—each of us has our own name for that real wish.
Remembering what I wish for is another doorway to return to freedom and possibility in this moment. In wish there is nothing to attain, for its fulfillment is itself the dance of doing. There is no outer measure of accomplishment besides the knowing that I am being true to what I am.

It begins again.

“Existence gives us two gifts,” a teacher told me, “breath and sensation. They are always available as doorways to return to ourselves from whatever fantasy has captured our consciousness. In any moment attention can be guided back to the rhythm of breathing, to the sensitive energy that flows through the whole body.”

These are tools to help begin again.

There is a mercy and tenderness in the availability of the moment to take us back again and again. It is like the sun that rises each day, and shines on all without exception. It is like the air that holds bodies together with its pressure, and bathes the biosphere in a delicious solution of nourishing gases. It is like the earth always underfoot, always providing a fertile place for seeds to sprout and grow.

The moment welcomes us back, though we have departed again and again, and it holds no grudges. The moment doesn’t remember that we betrayed or neglected. The moment is all-welcoming and all-forgiving, and we can return to her like a baby to mother’s breast for the sustenance, hope, and inspiration we need to continue our work, whatever that joyful, engaged work may be.

Now. It begins again.

  • Jason Stern on beginning again.


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