Gratitude book, watercolor on paper, March 2021

Dear Friends,

THE “& MORE”: Coping with the Pandemic Blues has really been a chore in the last couple of months! I just want to go out for coffee with a few friends —- please?!?! Because I could so easily enumerate what was wrong with life, I decided to make a little accordion book of 100 plus things that are going right in my life. Number One of which is that I and my family are well and we have enough of all that we need.

I had no idea if I could come up with more than 100 things to be grateful for, but it was actually very easy. And I did feel better after I made this little book. I started with some basics that I used to teach Liberty about: that because we have indoor plumbing, central heating, and hot and cold running water, we have a more comfortable and “richer” life than kings and queens had only a couple of centuries ago! And it really is a blessing that our electricity is reliable enough that we notice it only if there’s a very occasional blackout.

I totally recommend making your own little book of Gratitudes. Now it sits on my bookshelves, in front of a few hundred books (another gratitude!), and reminds me that these, too, are true in my life.

THE BOOK CHRONICLE: I HAVE FINISHED CHAPTER EIGHT out of 10 chapters! I keep chugging along, following the plan that I put together at the beginning of the project. This was the chapter on SILENCE, and it includes a dozen ideas for entering silence for both beginners and the more experienced, for people who consider themselves spiritual and those who who just want a renewing rest. Here’s a couple: I start with a basic sitting practice, then describe 3 or 4 ways to meditate, but I also talk about sitting and watching a snow globe settle after you’ve given it a good shake. Or if you don’t have a snowglobe, putting a tablespoon of dirt in a jar of water and giving that a shake. It takes awhile for it to become calm again, and that’s a good metaphor for how our inner attention and our nervous systems work.

My favorite part of the chapter was coming up with a variety of postmodern and very secular koans to include. Koans, as you probably know, are from the Zen Buddhist tradition and they are short statements or little stories that are not rational nor logical, but that if you meditate on them, may very well help you to bypass all that right-brained activity and have a sudden realization. It feels like a flip into another way of thinking/being, almost as though your brain just got out of a car wash! So here are two I included: “I ask my friend, ‘So are we crazy or intensely sane?’ She replies, ‘Yes!'”; or, “When there’s no place to go, how do I get there?” And here’s one that’s a little more serious: “‘Good God!’ screamed the woman as the bomb dropped from the plane.”

The next chapter is on reflective practices from the point of view of Embodiment, where I’ll talk about knowing, resting, and abiding in our physical selves, which are too often limited and achy and not working quite right. Then the last chapter will pull it all together where I assert that developing our inner lives is, indeed, a political act that just might “save the world” in the only way it can be saved, each one of us at a time. With the emphases on “one” as well as “us”.

With much love and many blessings,

Cat