On past retreats, I’d usually celebrate the escape from family noise and chaos. I love you all dearly, but I know you’ll be OK for a few days without me. Watch all the late night movies while crunching that popcorn in your mouths. Invite all the guests you want. Have a party! I’ll be celebrating my own party in silence.
But this retreat is different. I packed photos of you all in my suitcase to place on the community altar. One might guess I brought you along because I would miss you. Pictures would help me to remember. Or maybe I wanted you to receive the benefits and blessings of my time here. Whatever the reason, you are here now, and it just feels so natural, so right.
For years I wished each one of you would be different. Why was I the only one practicing mindfulness and compassion? It would be so much easier if you would help to carry the burden of blame. But that isn’t how it works, is it? I practice not only for myself, but for all beings far and near, especially those who are near.
On this retreat, each day I light a candle in your names, missing the news of my beloved husband’s work, my beautiful daughter’s spring choir concert, my loving mother’s new recipes or news of the extended family. I also ache to know myself- how kaveri as Loving Presence makes a difference in her community, how her heart, mind, and spirit are still tangled in so many places.
I sit with the mistakes and breaths of redemption as rivulets of feelings flow through the heart. Thank you dear ones for being just who you are, with all of your particular idiosyncrasies, all the elements that continue to shape my love for you and this life.
Each day I light a candle in your names, certain that the flame will dance with determination and flicker from exhaustion, certain that the flame will be rekindled several times by the poetry I feel inside.
Each day I light a candle
in your names--
missing you, aching
to know myself,
sitting with the mistakes
and breaths of redemption
as rivulets of tears
flow through the heart,
thankful for the elements
that continue to shape
my love for you
and this life.
As Loving Presence, i can practice for us all.
And it’s enough.