A fundamental understanding of Buddhism is that change is inevitable. It's what we do with change that matters.
A driving question in my life has been: Where are my people?
On this day, it is with souls in the warmth of a living room on a foggy, rainy day.
A small group of people met for worship in the home of one of us preparing to enter a hospice facility this week. Everyone in the circle has decades of shared joys and sorrows, celebrations and troubles, and the thick soup of life.
I am reflecting on the changes and the fundamental truths that got me to this point. While I moved my Quaker membership to another meeting 8 years ago, it is this group with whom I spent 20 years of my formative adult years and with whom were called to worship during this particular day.
Some of us had shared in a Marriage Enrichment training and kept up with potlucks and practicing "the skills" for several years beyond the initial training as we coped with raising kids, working, and trying to get along with our partners. (Okay, sometimes we wanted to kill our beloved or leave them.) Others had not participated in that group, but had served on committees together, raised our kids together (and talked about how our relationships were driving us crazy), and worshipped together.
The key word: worship.
We worshipped together in a pretty vulnerable way over these many years. In an unprogrammed Quaker meeting, this is, indeed, very intimate. There are no paid ministers. There is no one elevated to guide the "service." The service is sitting in silence, waiting for a sense that the Divine or Holy One or Guidance is working through the group and sometimes someone lifts up a message needing to be expressed. Worship is the root practice of opening our hearts to the Mystery of Love.
Infused with our daily lives, we came together with the understanding that the sacred is infused in everything we do, how we live, and most importantly, how we love. And, we often fell short. Often is big ways. Somehow, the community is still chugging along. Isn't that what Church is all about?
What eyes am I seeing through in the midst of fog? tears? change? tenderness? fierceness?
At worship with these familiar friends, one person said that "Love reflects Love." The words are intense enough, but he kept saying it like his hair was on fire.
In the moment right now, I am looking at the autumn trees and see how this is true. Even the woods are aglow with Love reflects Love. In the winter, it will be with the cold crispness and the breathtaking ache of life. And in the spring, it will be with the bursting color of flowers. Maybe there will be another summer for some of us and the juiciness of "Love reflects Love." How beautiful each of these faces, these seasons, in the midst of the 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows.
What seems true right now is that the immediacy of Love burned away any petty crap that I had been carrying around. Somehow, we all had survived our marriages. Except, now we had to face the loss of our lovers. Each other. What we have fought so hard to build and live within. One Marriage Enrichment couple already experienced a death as the other partner was in the tunnel of dementia. Obviously, they weren't with us in worship physically. Some of us have dealt with cancer, heart disease, and more. We are really getting down to the sick, aging and dying part now.
My hair is on fire with "Love reflects Love." It is a burning truth. Except for me, it is more like the Buddhist Tonglen practice - breathing in hot, difficult suffering and breathing out cool, soothing compassion with my hair on fire.
The roots of these relations are proving to be more important than the history I attach to them. Time and space are unimportant. Simply put, they are friends. They are my people. As we all return to God, I keep learning how we all belong to each other.