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Posted By Opening the Heart

"No one brings a rental car to a car wash" Confucius 470 B.C.

In Naomi Shihab Nye's poem Kindness, she says "Before we can know kindness as the deepest thing inside, we must lose things." Why? How does that work that we have to lose things before kindness becomes a part of us? The answer: I don't know! But when I think of the times that I've lost things and been brought to my knees with grief, those are the times when I am cracked open and feel a larger connection to all people. Because the truth is that each of us will lose everything we think we own. I say "think" because I believe that everything we "have" has only been loaned to us.

I find myself often looking around my home for things to give away or get rid of. Now that our kids are married with lives of their own, I go to the basement and see boxes of things: 25-pound bags of clay that hardened into bricks long before the turn of the century. I see a microwave that only works when you push the odd numbers (except for the '7'). And the books! Hundreds of books that I loved but can't seem to let go of even though I've read them all at least once. Classical records I know I will never play again- especially since I don't have a working record player. (Do my kids even know what a "record" is?) But these things were all important to me at one time, and now I'm looking to get rid of them- "downsizing" is the word, I think, us older people use. Making room for... what? Maybe what we should have made room for a lot sooner.

Krishna Das is a seeker and a beautiful chanter who tells the story of going to India to see his guru,Neem Karoli Baba. When he stood before him, Das' guru told him to meditate. Das winced and said "How?" Baba said "Like Christ!" Das said "Jesus!;"  Baba closed his eyes and went inside and after just a few minutes, a tear rolled down his cheek. He opened his eyes, looked at Das and said "That is how Christ meditates".

About 20 years ago I was at a meditation retreat and I had a profound experience. Breathing in patience, breathing out warmth. I went very deep and I began to let go of everything I owned. Consciously feeling it, remembering, then letting it go. When I was done with the things, I started with relationships - all of them. I admit, it was hard to keep breathing, but I did. Tears fell, until nothing was left except my breath. Then I counted down each breath until the last one. Empty space....

Nothing, I think, is really ours. We only have them on loan for a very little time. That's a good thing, maybe. Rationalization? Probably, but, honestly, the finiteness of what we've been given allows us to breathe in the sweetness of it when we can be calm, and then allow our heart to break when we have to give it back to the Owner.

With Love and Respect, JonJon