Heartbreak and practice

Heartbreak and practice April 16, 2013

Boston, Charles River, skyline, sailboats
Photo by Sayamindu Dasgupta

Teach us, O Divine Mother, directly
at every moment in this hour of apocalypse
the appropriate action that heals
and preserves
and redeems
and transforms.

(From “Prayer to the Divine Mother” by Andrew Harvey)

Yesterday, bombs went off in my city.  I grew up in the Boston area and love it: every time I ride the T across the Charles or crest a hill on Route 2 and see the skyline, I smile.   And so of course my heart was broken by the violence in the heart of my beloved city.

Heartbreak is when our practices can be of the most help.  We remember what is true: the earth is always underneath our feet, supporting us.  We experience pain and rage and grief at the harm done to innocent people who were probably no worse than the rest of us, and we notice the gorgeousness of the sunset, and in the unbearable contrast, we see that somehow, life seems intent on going on.  We remember we have a center, and we forget it, and then we remember again.  As Anne Lamott suggests, we say “help” without any idea of whether we are heard, and if things somehow become a little more liveable, even for a minute, we say “thank you” the same way.  We wonder why: first, why we live in a world where this can happen — there are no words for how much I wish I had a better answer than “bad things jut happen,” but I don’t — and then, when we know more, we wonder why this particular thing happened in this particular way.  We give money to educate girls or write to our senators to fund mental health programs.  We try not to forget that war is the everyday reality of too many people, or that chocolate is delicious, or that we are loved.

What does your practice you in times of challenge and tragedy?  What gives you hope?

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