(Of course, being a health-conscious family, we usually didn’t go for the junk food. We got the protein-packed pecans instead – you know, the ones that happened to come with a complimentary iced coffee ring stuck to the bottom of them.)
I’ve heard that, regardless of denomination or creed, it’s not uncommon for worshippers’ tempers to flare when the devout leave their community’s parking lots.
And yet, I have to think that sticking a bakery outlet across the street stokes the fires of desire and increases the odds for trouble.
I don’t know who was tested more: the parishioners, who pledged to go in peace to love and serve (which technically did not preclude them serving donuts for brunch) or the priest, charged with forming his flock to resist temptation (or at least, to be a bit more generous when it came to allowing the Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon some room to merge into the exit lane; c’mon people of God, this boat’s got the turning radius of an aircraft carrier!)
In any event, all too often, whatever spiritual progress had been made over the preceding hour vanished in the time it took to turn onto Route 30.
I’ve seen the same thing happen in the parking lot after yoga classes, too. And even closer to home, I’ve watched my own mood nosedive nanoseconds after emerging from several 30-minute periods of meditation:
Lilly’s laughing a bit too loud. Noah’s left some dishes out. Paula’s breathing encumbers my personal space. Veritable school buses dropping onto my head, no?
And unlike the mosquito, I cry out and complain. Wings crushed, fists balled, I curse the falling rain.
Go to church. Take a yoga class. Learn to meditate. Why? What good does it do? If minutes later, I’m just going to return to being my cranky, moody, agitated self again? Why don’t I just stay home and eat Entenmann’s donuts instead?
All right, all right, I know…
Find a better church. Take a different yoga class. Learn a more sophisticated meditation practice… with your teacher. And give up sugar while I’m at it, because that’s the root of the mood swings in the first place.
Except, that’s not the mosquito’s path:
“In fact, she doesn’t even try to avoid the drops.
No zigzagging, no ducking. No hiding under eaves.
How does she do it?
No resistance to the force.
She hitches a ride on the blow,
a stowaway on that which brings her down.”
No resistance to the force.
It’s how Eddie Rabbit learns to “Love a Rainy Night” and BJ Thomas discovers he’s “free/nothing’s worrying me” despite the catchy reality that “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”
But how to make that shift: from trying to walk between the raindrops back to your door to singing (and dancing) in the rain?
Well, of course, I don’t speak mosquito. For all I know, every time the mosquito gets pelted, it’s cursing a blue streak. But that’s secondary. It falls. It flies. Twenty seconds later, it gets pelted again.
The secret is, there is no secret.
“And the mosquito lives.”
We live to practice another moment. And another. And another.
The opportunity for practice – breath practice, movement practice, rest practice, vow practice, atonement practice, selfless service, prayer, ritual, writing, textual study, study with a teacher – is limitless.
And yet, whatever and however we practice, it also needs to be skillful (nourished by firm ground)… so, how do we know if it is?
More on that as the week goes by,
Enjoy the sun (and when it comes back, the rain, as well!),