Your Brother’s Keeper

Friday of the First Week of Lent

“You are your brother’s keeper,” is one of those lines that can choke us.

And yes, we are.

In other words, our human relationships are as important as our spiritual ones.

In today’s gospel reading from Matthew, Chapter 5, Jesus teaches his disciples about the importance of human relationships. It’s not enough to be like the Pharisees, a select brotherhood, “admitting only those who, in the presence of three members, pledged themselves to the strict observance of Levitical purity,” according to the Jewish Encyclopedia. Jesus indicated that all are our “brothers” and all deserve reconciliation.

It’s like The Pointer Sisters sang, so many years ago, “We are family….” all the sisters and brothers.

Sometimes relationships have to end. That’s clearly so. But we do not have to cut that person our of our hearts. We can still reconcile from our feelings of hurt or betrayal and remain separate physically.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean whatever happened is okay. We don’t have to let hurt back into our lives. Forgiveness and reconciliation means we clear our hearts of the hurt so we can live clearly. Forgiveness means we can put down the heavy yoke of judgment and breathe.

Which yoke do you need to remove from your shoulders?

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Get Out the Post-Its

Each day, WordPress sends out an email with a writing prompt. On Fridays, they send out photo prompts. You, dear readers and watchers, have seen some of my photos from the prompts. But until today, I hadn’t taken up any of the writing prompts although I had saved several of them to think about.

Today’s, interestingly enough, was “just what I needed” a phrase many of you have said to me after reading one or another of my posts–whatever I said was something you needed to hear. Today’s from WordPress filled that slot for me.

The prompt, although perhaps not exactly the way it went out so I won’t use quote marks, said to find a safe place to stop, decide how long you can keep your eyes closed, close your eyes and count, and write about what comes up.

Meditating is something I’ve done a fair amount of although not lately, so I decided, 150, I could do that. I’d never counted during meditation before but I did; and an interesting outcome of that was my mind had something to do. I’m a counter. I count when I’m kneading bread; I count when I’m swimming or exercising; I count when I’m walking. I count. That’s what I do.

Somewhere around 100, my mind went to sets of fours–four slow counts to breathe in, four slow c0unts to breathe out–and I sort of lost track of the numbers, but what came to me, loud and clear, is how seldom I stop. Just stop.

Much of the time, because there’s so much that needs doing, I’m multi-tasking and moving from one need to another and back again so as not to waste any time. Too many things are constantly clamouring for my attention. I know that’s also true for many others. You, perhaps. In the midst of multi-tasking, I still remember to breathe and drop my shoulders–I’ve had a lot of practice in those habits–but I seldom, as I said, stop.

Years ago, when I practiced changing the chatter in my head, I put post-its all over on which I’d written, “Trust.” And I practiced saying trust over and over until I’d formed new neural pathways in my brain and worry no longer took over my mind.

Stopping is something that needs practice. When Cliff and I married, in part of my vows to him I said, “…when you tell me to stop, I’ll stop.” And everyone there laughed. But I meant it–and sometimes, he does. But it seems that I’m now being told that stopping is something that needs practice in my life.

I guess it’s time to pull out the post-its.

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Vertigo

A poem from Monique Pasternak, a traveler, a student,  a teacher, guided to go discover the eye of the hurricane as it lands on the path of blessings.

                   VERTIGO

When overbearing reason reigns unrivaled,

it fragments the fullness of moons

commits entire universes to neglect

and compromises the vitality of our fairest nights.

Ruthless it shoots on disclosed yearnings,

bangs hard into pregnant longings,

calls for legions of biting minds

to bulldoze under tender whispers,

crush emerging blooms of spirit,

tear serene webs of light,

slay depth of breath,

bury one more song.

When the Source of life lies forgotten

lands turn barren, hearts shrivel

souls wander off,  aimless.

Do not reach  inside the vanity case

of shallow reasons and futile controversies,

the time is getting late. 

Rather go a’tumbling in your  heart,

its mighty tides will thrust you naked

upon the shore where hope rides the light

that moves the earth and fuels the sun. 

A moment greets you only once,

renew each day :

if it is your last, make it your first,

your becoming breathes you.

In the likes of my song feel God’s kiss

in yours, become the kiss

walk on, walk on through

the wheels are turning faster now.

Be right or be wrong

yet be all the better for it; 

when we feel lost,  we can be found

vertigo spins the blessing,

move on,   fear not.

            m.pasternak  Jerusalem, January 2005