Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

finding a life

November 18th, 2018    -    2 Comments

You must refuse to accept the common delusion that a career is an adequate context for a life. The logic of success insinuates that self-enlargement is your only responsibility, and that any job, any career will be satisfying if you succeed in it. But I can tell you, on the authority of much evidence, that a lot of people highly successful by that logic are painfully dissatisfied. I can tell you further that you cannot live in a career, and that satisfaction can come only from your life. To give satisfaction, your life will have to be lived in a family, a neighborhood, a community, an ecosystem, a watershed, a place, meeting your responsibilities to all those things to which you belong. — Wendell Berry

This week, should you travel far or close, join the table as a guest or host, may you find your life in all those things to which you belong. And in a quiet hour, perhaps you’ll listen to this. I am grateful to have something to share with you. Thank you for fulfilling my life.

Karen Maezen Miller: Finding a Life podcast

come together in grace

November 23rd, 2014    -    7 Comments

knives forks and spoons in cup of dry food dishes“From an early age I knew that I was different.”

Last weekend I went to a place far away that I’d never been before and sat in silence for two days in a small room with people I’d never met. All of us who find ourselves in that kind of predicament — even if we’ve done it a hundred times — are a bit uncomfortable at the outset. First, we don’t know the people we are sitting with, we don’t know what will happen, we don’t know what we are doing, and we aren’t able to talk about what is bothering us.

So when it was over, we went around the room and said our names and gave a parting word or two. What I said was that, no matter what we presumed about the strangers sitting next to us, everyone in the room had been sitting in a world of hurt. It is a guarantee.

No matter what, we hurt. We have trouble in our lives. We have pain. We have pain even when there’s no pain because the things we cherish won’t last. This universal suffering, this eternal ache, is our greatest blessing, in a way, because through it we realize that we are not different, we are not better or worse, we are not special or chosen, we are just alike, and this recognition allows us to get over ourselves and care deeply for one another. Very few realize it, and so we live at war, wars big and small, public and private, and they go on forever. Our world is a world of hurt. It is a guarantee.

There is a kind of standard-issue biography among spiritual entrepreneurs that goes something like this: “From an early age I knew that I was different. Teachers recognized that I was spiritually gifted. I possessed a profound awareness that I was meant to do something special. I decided to go out into the world and share what I was born to do.”

From an early age, know that you are not different.

Being different has not been a transformative experience for me. Neither was it the experience of Buddha, who from an early age knew that he was not different. His spiritual awakening began when he left the phony shelter of his delusions and realized that he would get old, get sick, and die. Like the rest of us, he had no special gift, no deferment, no way out or around reality. This stone-cold clarity is the root of wisdom and the source of compassion.

I offer this up today so that we can be a bit less uncomfortable in the days ahead. So that we can experience things in a new way. We can be tolerant of one another. We can be generous. We can be forgiving. We can be at ease in a crowded airport, house or kitchen. We can clasp hands around the table, giving thanks not only for life’s abundance, but for its scarcity, its brevity, and its painful guarantee of impermanence. Until we realize that we are not different, we can never, even for one moment, come together in grace.

Amen.

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all I see is suffering

November 26th, 2013    -    6 Comments

fresh-modern-thanksgiving-table-setting-lYears ago when I was doing one of my first internet interviews the host said something that caught me off guard. She said, “Isn’t it hard for you to live in a place like that?”

I couldn’t fathom her meaning. It’s not hard to live in Los Angeles — a beautiful place with nearly perfect year-round weather, where you can go outside any day under a blue sky and climb a mountain, see the ocean, and gather fruit from the trees in your own yard.

But she didn’t mean that. What she wondered was whether it was hard for someone like me to live in a place with people who weren’t like me. A place known for its vanity and pretense, empty dreams and false promises, shallowness, selfishness, fear, lies, and addictions.

In other words, a place like everywhere with people like everyone.

“All I see is suffering,” I answered.

I’m remembering that conversation because Thursday is the day we adorn the table and feel blessed, fed, loved, warm and secure — or at least pretend that we are — among the people who might be the hardest to live with: our own families.

What will you see at your table? And more to the point, whom will you serve?

Happy Thanksgiving.

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gratitude list

November 21st, 2012    -    6 Comments

A 35-year-old oven
Prayer
Miracles
Tap dancing
Microwaves
Mashed potatoes
Wine
Wishes
Small families
Small appetites
No expectations
Pie
Laughter
Leftovers
Forgiveness
Sunshine
Rain
Moon
Stars
Age
Perspective
Children
Ancestors
Memory
Forgetfulness
Forever

Gratitude is humility on a plate. Thank you for coming to my table.

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heat in the kitchen

November 16th, 2010    -    17 Comments

Of course you want the turkey to be done. You’d like the mashed potatoes to keep warm, the stuffing to stay moist and the gravy to taste homemade. You’re hoping the pies turn out, the guests turn up and the TV gets turned off. You’ll be grateful to have it over with, but can you take a week of hectic cooking and turn it into a mindfulness practice?

The sages did, and still do.

I have a new photo-post up at the Huffington Post this week, “7 Ways to Make Thanksgiving Mindful,” and it’s worth your while to notice. Follow these instructions step-by-step and see what comes of it:

1. Click on the link to read the post on Huffington.
2. Once you’re there, click on the blue thumb to “like” it.
3. Click on “Facebook Share” to share it on FB.
4. Click on the red “Retweet” to share it on Twitter.
5. If you don’t mind a few ruffled feathers, join the cackle of Huff Post commenters by adding your own.
6. Come back here and leave a comment on this post telling me anything and everything you’ve done. For each step taken you earn a point in my prize drawing.

You must know I would never tell you what to eat or how to make it. I’m simply illuminating the power of your own evenminded attention.

For each step you take, you’ll earn a point toward a drawing for a fabulous gift: an autographed copy of the organic cookbook Food to Live By, an inspiring and passionate 400-page cooking cornucopia by Myra Goodman, the co-founder of Earthbound Farms. The winner will be drawn this Sunday.

Good luck and good appetite!

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The grace in lieu of gratitude

November 26th, 2009    -    3 Comments

Planes fly
Dogs sleep
The pancreas secretes enzymatic elixirs
Sun shines
Wind moves
The bluejay calls for peanuts on the back porch
Friends greet
Pain subsides
The disposal still works
Light fills
Shadows fall
Ventilation from the ambient air into the alveoli of the lungs
The abundance of it all
And me, sitting here doing nothing.

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