Prayer and Reflection

Sunlight falls hazy on common cinquefoil leaves at the roadside and I am walking the long loop of Patton Thicket. Scientists have researched the benefits of walking in shapes and learned that it exercises different parts of the brain than simply walking in circles or a straight line. I walk a three mile figure eight, moving around the soggy woods of spring that make up the hillsides of the Black Mountains. If I do this enough times, I can start to feel the infinity of the flora and fauna, the rocks and soil, the ancient and blossoming lives around me. I remember that it is possible to get lost and still know just where you are.

It is a strange thing to go to sleep disappointed in democracy and wake to the full fruits of the freedom to shape my day as I wish. What an intellectual luxury we have to grow angry and wrathful while benefiting from everyday pleasures such as clean running water, a skyline free of bombers, and the safe company of friends and family.

Spitting hate at the misguided never put out any fires; I was born knowing this. But still, it takes practice to understand the complexity of the human experience. The Tibetan Buddhists say there are seven realms of being (ours being the human realm). A head teacher in the lineage I study explains that the seeds of each of these realms exist within us even though we may not fully embody them in this lifetime. It is a matter of drinking water for the health of our souls, shining sunlight on the fortunate realms of our existences, drawing nourishment from deep down for the benefit of other beings.

The choices we make in life are ultimately a matter of life and death – though usually in the metaphorical sense and infrequently in the literal. We choose what grows in us and what wilts. We can choose to offer our best selves to the world even in the most trying situations. All major religions have stories of trial and triumph or failure that illustrate this. Each breath carries the potential to impact how we grow, what shape our accomplishments will blossom into, and the ways in which other beings will see us. And like the forest that I encircled with the ellipses of infinity this afternoon, this process is unending.

May the body, soul, and influence of George W. Bush emanate life rather than death. May he drink water from the sweat of an Iraqi mother’s brow, shine sunlight on the dark caverns of his own heart, draw nourishment from the cries of the American public. May he blossom in lush petals of kindness, breathe with a sigh of peaceful understanding, swell with unprecedented insight. May he find peace in himself so that he may wish it on the rest of the world.

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