Surrender & One Love

My teachers often spoke of letting go.  Letting be.  Radical acceptance.  It is as it is, they said.  No matter how abhorrent or unpleasant the contents of the present moment, accepting it– as Eckhart Tolle would advise, as if we chose it.  This acceptance must not be confused with condoning or approving.  Surrender is perhaps the turn of phrase used in a religious context, but describes the identical tenet of mindfulness.

The version of Reinhold Niebuhr’s prayer favored by 12-Step groups which they dubbed The Serenity Prayer begins God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

Surrender in modern usage is synonymous with weakness, but in this context it connotes power and strength.  After all, it is only when we understand to our core this is the way it already is, that we are able to soften the grasping and aversion that causes suffering.  Suffering, that is, beyond the pain of living in an awful epidemic.

Lovingkindness is a mindfulness practice that invites us to recognize human connection rather than dwelling in anxiety or panic.  Of course feeling these, or anything else, is fine.  The practice is to surrender to emotions arising too.  Without necessarily getting taken over by them.  I have included a lovingkindness practice at the conclusion of this post.

Several poems have appeared in recent weeks which point to this connection.  They touched me.  And helped me.  It is my hope that they are– as my mother and her mother used to say– honey on your heart.  Much love, Brandon

The Afternoon The World Health Organization Declared The Pandemic written by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer on 3/15/20

Pandemic  Lynn Ungar 3/11/20
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Lockdown by Brother Richard (Richard Hendrick) 3/13/20
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,