In these days…

By Glenda | July 24, 2014

Some days, I’m sure, most of us can identify with the famous saying, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” From plane crashes to invasions, from forest fires to desperate refugee children on our borders, from one friend to another relative stricken down by illness—these days we are hard pressed to find solace for our troubled minds.

In such times, clichés won’t do. We all find ourselves reaching deeper, for the most basic and the most profound ways of facing so many challenges.

My own recourse, long tested, is to reach for the opposites. The opposite for me of the tyranny and the terrible is the simplest kindness, or a touch of forgiveness, or at least a sort of softening around the edges—all in quietness and with compassion.

That isn’t always easy to come by, as I suffer the demons along with the rest of us. But I have learned in my seventy-five years to direct what energy I have toward these tender qualities, rather than expending my life force on recrimination or on having health sucked out of me by a prolonged anguish that changes nothing.

Don’t get me wrong. I can get furious over certain things I see, certain ways people behave. Certain catastrophes can literally bring me to my knees in sorrow. And fear, like a clammy cold hand at my throat, too often stalks me.

And yet, in the midst of these very human emotions, I may notice something significant. I may see that I am, in fact, feeling a trace of something surprisingly akin to compassion—for myself! I see, in short, that I am actually feeling sorry for myself; I am in self-pity for all I have to endure.

And, if I am lucky, and if I have a bit of a sense of humor and proportion, I can then reframe that as “I am feeling sorrow for myself,” which sounds wiser and less self-centered.

I can then, consciously, comfort myself as if I were a child. I can pat myself gently on the arm, saying, “There, there, now, hold on; hold on. You’re ok. You’re doing alright. Look at what you are faced with, after all!” Etc.

So, especially these days, I have compassion for myself, for hurting so much, for being so helpless with my shattered emotions. I can feel forgiveness for myself, usually for judging others for being judgmental.

And in that small bit of broadened space in which I care for myself, my heart can open, I can breathe more freely, and soon I can turn that compassion outward toward others and the world.

It’s a small thing to do, really. To be still long enough to feel love for oneself.

But then the next step is a big thing indeed–to know that my real self is the Whole Self, that my true self is the One Being that is Everything, that is Us All.

And that, of course, is the knowing that contains the remedy I seek, the assurance that, no matter what, no matter what, all is well, and all yet may be well. For, alongside the miserable circumstances I deplore, always there are the wonders, the beauties, the loving kindness, the opposites, the other side of things, in the richly-tapestried magic of it all.

I’ve long preached the practice, when overtaken by any damaging emotions, of moving my eyes slightly to the left or right of the direction I have been looking (literally and metaphorically), and there I can always, always see something that arrests me, something that is lovely or moving, possibly only in its potential, but usually it is right there, something beautiful or amazing, bringing me back to a softer place where I find the means to go on in a better state.

I know this all sounds pretty airy-fairy in the face of the six-o-clock news and the “reality” out there. But it is essential to remember that the real reality, pardon the redundancy, is actually, I am certain, that of a Great Mystery. Things are never only what they seem.

Everything is always more complex, containing unexpected consequences and hidden possibilities. So it is that suffering can be the birthplace of more than sorrow.

So I tune my heart to listen for the smallest song of a bird, the slightest movement of a leaf in the wind, the sound of the breathing of the universe in the simplest things.

Somehow I am getting by this way. Prayerful, always. Humbled, so much so that I have hesitated to post anything to any of you.

But today, I send you my love, my compassion, my forgiveness, my tender regard, my adoration of all that is possible for good.

May you be strong. May you love yourself and others. May you find creativity in these times of challenge.

Blessings on us all, everywhere. Everywhere.

May the wars cease. May the hungry be fed. May the homeless be sheltered. May those in positions of power be enlightened. May the cycles of change be gentle. May the natural world be richly renewed. May beauty overtake us with ecstatic devotion. May healing occur for all who suffer in any way. May all this be, even now.

With deep love and respect,
Glenda Taylor

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