A Contemplative Practice In Times Of Trauma And Violence

VigilPulse2

Submitted by board member, The Rev. Edward Cardoza

My heart and mind are heavy.   My spirit is unsettled. I am thinking about the tragedy that unfolded this weekend in Orlando.  I find myself distracted to the point where prayer and silence seem challenging.

I know it is in times such as these that finding a place for solitude and for reflection is important.   First, I believe prayer matters.  Second, I believe healing begins within me.  Lastly, I think silence deepens our ability to love, to be empathetic and to be a strength to others in times of trauma and violence.

One of life’s important rituals–taught to me by my elders–is to stand vigil. It is clear we will bury so many in the weeks to come–once again–too many, too young. We will stand or kneel or bend or crouch or curl…weeping, astonished, angered, frustrated and wrecked…but in the end we will stand back up again–let’s do so rooted in love–keeping vigil for each of the Creator’s beloved.

I offer the following contemplative exercise as a way of creating space and of remembering those who were killed.

Step 1: Find a list of those who are victims—local tv news stations and newspapers will be printing lists with names and biographies.

You can check out the official list here:  http://www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/

Step 2: Read the name of a single person, softly and out loud.  Repeat the name, once again.

Step 3: Keep the person in your heart….take a breath in and then release the breath out.  Keep silence for 1 minute…repeat the person’s name.

Step 4: Hold this person in your heart, hold this person’s family in your heart, hold this person’s community in your heart….ask for peace, ask for love, and ask for comfort.

Step 5:  Repeat the process.
If you can set aside an hour, you should be able to get through all the names.  If you can only do a few at a time, that is okay.  You can invite someone to join you.  At the end, take a few minutes for quiet—and voice your own needs.

Shared Spring Celebrations

YellowFlowers

Contributed by Board Member, the Rev. Sarah Person

It is spring: deliverance from the quiet darkness of winter and the return of green and the reaching toward the sun.  In our northern climes, spring time is crowded with meaning and rich with symbols and rituals that have been passed down to us like a spiritual DNA.   This season is a true inter-religious, inter-cultural feast!

From time immemorial we have marked the last full moon before the equinox and spring itself and regaled ourselves with bright colors, eggs, hares, particular flowers, bonfires, and dances.

The same lilies and hyacinths that decorate Christian altars on Easter Sunday, are assembled for Ba Hai celebrations of No Ruz.   Eggs appear on the Jewish Seder plate, and in Easter egg hunts.

The Hindu Festival Holi at this time of year is the festival of love, or the festival of colors.  People don’t decorate eggs; they decorate each other with bright powdered colors as they dance in the streets.  It is a time to play, and forgive and to heal.

We all share traditions based on fertility and new growth, renewal and redemption.  We remind one another of our deliverance from evil, from slavery, from death itself.   We embrace the second chance at life and the effervescent joy of living even the short spans allotted to us.

Happy Spring, friends, Happy Spring