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Saying goodbye. December 15, 2014

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“If your heart were sincere and upright, every creature would be unto you a looking-glass of life and a book of holy doctrine.”
—Thomas a Kempis

“All things by immortal power
Near or far,
Hiddenly
To each other linked are,
That thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling of a star.”
—Francis Thompson

Pope Francis got in big trouble this past week by daring to suggest that animals went to heaven. He was trying to console a distraught little boy whose dog had just died by saying that his beloved pet was now in heaven and that he, the boy, would meet with him again when he got there. Immediately, an outpouring of outrage from conservatives and spokespeople for organizations like the Pork Producers Association came pouring out like a pile of slaughtered pig guts.

All of us who’ve ever had a pet know that the cost of loving them is losing them, since their lives are so short compared to ours. Every time I get a new dog, cat, bird, or what have you, I know that in the moment of saying hello I’m also starting to say goodbye. But I get them and I love them anyway, because I can’t imagine life without pets to love, without pets to love you, even for a short time.

But how do you explain that to a little boy who’s just lost his first pet, his beloved dog? I suppose that for many of us, the first faces we’d like to see after Saint Peter’s are those of the pets we loved, the pets who loved us, the pets who, possibly, saved us when we were in physical or emotional crisis, watching over us with their endless loving concern. Telling a heartbroken little boy that he’d see his dog in heaven, as Pope Francis did, was an act of charity. It might also have been true.

Having not been there, I can’t tell you if there’s a heaven. But if there is, I want my pets to be in it, or it won’t be worth going to. I want all the plants and animals and water features that make our world an earthly paradise to be in it. And I want those pigs who believe that God gave them the earth and everything on it to despoil for their own enrichment to re-read their Genesis, which they always use to justify barbarous acts of greed and savagery, where God Creator says that He gave His Creation into man’s care, to stand for him as its protector. Not its destroyer.

Just for today, cherish the dog, the flower, and the star. For we are all linked, no matter what we are.

Give love this Christmas. December 9, 2014

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“Wheresoever we seek our own, there we fall from love.”
—Thomas a Kempis

“There is the tendency to place ourselves and our ambitions at the center of our lives. This is very human, but it is not Christian.”
—Pope Francis, @Pontifex

Yesterday, I received a Christmas card from my Aunt Betty. At this season of the year, most of us are either thinking about what we want for Christmas or what our family and friends might want for Christmas, or what we’d better get the boss and the office gang, or our kids’ teachers and coaches, or our secretary, or God-knows-who for Christmas. Or how we’ll ever afford Christmas, with all these ever-more-expensive presents for everybody and shipping costs getting more outrageous every year.

But not Aunt Betty. She gets presents for those in need and sends them in our names. In past years, we’ve gotten cards saying that a needy family in, say, the Andes has received a (live) chicken in our name through Heifer International, so they can get nutritious eggs. (You don’t need a rooster to get eggs.) This year, she donated to Doctors Without Borders, those brave individuals who risk their lives to share their expertise where it otherwise wouldn’t be available. People we’ll never see or know will have a better Christmas this year. Thank you, Aunt Betty!

What I think she’s trying to tell us is that she thinks we have enough “stuff” and don’t need any more from her. (And she’s right.) Whereas these organizations help people who lack food, shelter, warmth, medical care, and other basic necessities, much less toys, video games, the latest athletic shoes, and the like. I suggest that you think of an organization that speaks to you this Christmas, be it a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, The Salvation Army, The Southwest Indian Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, or any of the hundreds of others, and donate in a family member’s or your office’s name this Christmas. (And don’t forget that you can volunteer your time as well, including giving free hands-on Reiki sessions.)

Obviously, I’d never suggest doing this when children are involved. But you could get them a book or toy and donate in their family’s name, and the family could start teaching them the meaning of sharing and giving. Think how much better you’ll feel knowing you’re helping others on Christmas than ripping open package after package of stuff for yourself.

Just for today, don’t fall from love.

The silence of our friends. December 8, 2014

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“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
—Martin Niemoller, Lutheran Pastor

“The Church is called to draw near to every person, beginning with the poorest and those who suffer.”
—Pope Francis, @Pontifex

Just for today, remember that everyone is our friend. Do not ever remain silent while others suffer.

Another great fortune. October 8, 2014

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Last night, we had Chinese/Japanese/Thai takeout for supper. (Thanks to the miraculous rise of Pan-Asian restaurants.)This included two fortune cookies (much appreciated by our black German shepherd, Shiloh). I’ve never understood why anyone would want to eat a fortune cookie (Shiloh excepted), but I’ve always been fascinated by them.

When I was a child, fortune cookies told fortunes: You will be this, you will do that, this will happen to you. But for many years now, they have contained maxims, proverbs, truisms, rather than telling fortunes. An example is my all-time favorite, “There’s more to balance than not falling over.”

I still miss the good old days of “You will win the lottery this week” or “A handsome prince is heading your way” or “Stay inside on the next full moon.” And I still wonder why it seems like all fortune cookies suddenly changed to maxim cookies. (Market research?) I’ll admit, however, that for those of us on the Reiki path, these latter-day cookies occasionally turn up hidden gems that can prod us to think and act in new ways.

Last night, my fortune was “There is no one so rich that they don’t need help or so poor that they cannot help.” What a wonderful point! And it was really timely, too. I’d been sitting here staring at a stack of bills thinking “Yeesh,” and feeling demoralized because it seemed like everyone I knew was traveling, going on cruises to fabulous places, while I was sitting here moping. Then I got an e-mail from my undergraduate school asking me to donate money to help endow a fund to send students to France!

I would love to go to France, to Normandy, my ancestral home (ca. 1066), to the Loire River Valley, to Provence (so I can pretend to be one of my heroes, Julia Child), to Chartres, to Paris and the Louvre. But I could never afford such a trip. And here’s my school asking me for money!

“There is no one so rich that they don’t need help.” Blessed Mother Teresa said that the greatest poverty she had ever encountered was not in the gutters of Calcutta but in the arid, isolated emotional lives of the well-to-do in America and other first-world countries. As Pope Francis puts it, “The great threat in today’s world is the loneliness of hearts oppressed by greed.” Clearly, these people desperately need help getting back in touch with other people, with animals, with nature. Think of the people who run companies of horror like Monsanto: Could they really poison the world if they were in touch with it? Could the monsters who pay people pennies to work in mines and sweat-labor factories that fall in on them and kill them do such a thing if they were connected to other people?

“There is no one…so poor that they cannot help.” I found this part of the fortune especially affecting. It made me think again about the e-mail from my school asking for money. The fund was going to be named in honor of one of my own French teachers, Scott Bates, who has apparently now died. I remember Professor Bates for his kindness and for how much he loved that I wrote poems in French. Now I feel sorry that I didn’t send him some of the English translations of French poems I did in grad school; I think he’d have been far more impressed by those. I can’t give the school money; I don’t have any. But I’d like to honor Professor Bates in some way. Maybe I’ll write a poem, or translate one, and send it to the French Department in his honor. Maybe they’ll find a way to use it that will “help.”

There is no one so rich that they don’t need help or so poor that they cannot help. Offering a free Reiki session to an ailing neighbor, or offering to get groceries for elderly neighbors, or spending a few extra moments with your dog or cat or adopting a dog or cat or bunny from a shelter, volunteering at a soup kitchen, suggesting that your Reiki share end with sending Reiki to the world: All of these cost nothing, yet they give so much. And recognizing that we all need help, we all need connection, we’re all interdependent, and that this is the mortal condition, not some sign of weakness or failure, will set all of us free.

Just for today, offer help and take it.

Walking with God. September 15, 2014

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“Whoever approaches Me walking, I will come to him running.”

—Mishkat Al-Masabih

“The Lord always forgives us and walks at our side. We have to let him do that.”

—Pope Francis, @Pontifex

The concept of God is so variable, from a vengeful old man taking personal revenge on everyone in sight to the serene Self within that is seamlessly connected to the All, to All That Is, through the experience of enlightenment, satori, anshin ritsumei. Nature worship, the realm of the shamans and medicine men and vision quests of the indigenous people of so many countries, is another way of connecting to the All.

It fascinates me that these two quotes, divided by centuries and cultures, both depict God walking with us. “Whoever approaches Me walking, I will come to him running.” What an image! “The Lord always…walks at our side. We have to let him do that.” What a concept! In both images, we are first of all walking. We aren’t just sitting there texting on our smartphones or watching an episode of “Orange Is the New Black.” We are walking towards the Lord, or we are allowing the Lord to walk by our side.

Even if we’re speaking of the Lord within, we had better get moving. Walking Zen, walking (even virtually) with Thich Nhat Hahn, a brisk walk as recommended by Sri Eknath Easwaran to clear negative emotions and tone the body, walking meditation, walking in general, all are wonderful for body and soul. Those of us on the Reiki path might repeat (silently or aloud) one of Usui Founder’s Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) as we walk, in synchrony with our breath. Who knows? We might see God running towards us, or walking by our side.

Just for today, start walking.

(Don’t) buy, buy, buy. September 9, 2014

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“It is not only corporations who carry the responsibility for pollution. Insofar as we tell them, ‘Produce all you want! We’ll buy whatever you make’, the rest of us are responsible too.”

—Sri Eknath Easwaran, Words to Live By

“If you hoard material possessions, they will rob you of your soul.”

—Pope Francis, @Pontifex

I assume that most of us who can read (or write) this blog aren’t living in a tin shack with seven other people, or sleeping under some plastic trash bags and cardboard and going to the bathroom on the sidewalk, or forced to flee to a refugee camp and wonder how we’ll feed our children, to say nothing of ourselves. Instead, many of us have the opposite problem: too much disposable income and too much disposable time to spend it.

Shopping as entertainment has become so commonplace it’s taken for granted across all age groups, from teens hanging out at the mall or video games arcade to bored corporate types hitting the upscale stores after work, hoping to find a deal on something to impress their coworkers. It’s such a sad comment on our society when a celebrity wears a multi-thousand-dollar couture dress a second time and every press release covers that. And of course, every season has its trendy colors and styles, and every site you visit is filled with pop-up ads begging you to buy this, buy that, whether you need it or not, so that before you know it, you’re rushing off to buy that leopard-print maxidress and margarita-green purse and earth-toned eye makeup because, hey! Isn’t everyone wearing them?

I’m certainly guilty of this, too. Now that everyone says Windows XP isn’t safe for financial transactions anymore, and it’s still my operating system, I no longer buy anything online, which certainly limits my purchasing power. And since my car and most of my clothes date back decades and were bought used to begin with, that’s not an issue. But take me out someplace that carries things I love—books, rocks and fossils, incense, antiques, a farmers’ market or specialty grocery—and it’s certain that I’ll emerge with something, just because I can’t resist that exotic spice blend or luscious cheese or beautiful crystal or stack of books and magazines. Do I need them? No. Do I love them? Yes.

Sri Eknath says that our mindless purchasing pollutes the world, since as long as we keep buying, manufacturers will keep producing, and advertisers will keep teasing what they produce. (“20% off everything in our store, for today only!” “Buy one, get two free!” “Lowest prices of the year!” “Dr. Oz says eating this will make you look 40 years younger!”)

But, horrific as pollution is, Pope Francis says something even worse: That mindless shopping, accumulating “stuff” just to entertain ourselves, will rob us of our souls. Those of us who follow the Reiki Way can’t afford to lose our souls, to possessions or anything else. That $2 bag of sand dollars at the thrift store might seem harmless enough (it did to me)—a steal!!!—but if you already have baskets of shells all over your home (as I do), maybe it’s time to give them to some children instead of hoarding them yourself. (I did.)

Better to do that, better to give that $5 you were planning to spend at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, or the $160 for a stadium ticket to a sports event, or the money you were planning to spend on a BOGO shoe sale when your closet’s already bursting with shoes, to one of those homeless people huddled under the trash bags and cardboard. Better to do that than to lose your soul. And maybe you’ll help combat pollution, too.

Just for today, don’t buy what you don’t need.

The surffering which doesn’t affect us. September 6, 2014

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“We run the risk of forgetting the suffering which doesn’t affect us.”
—Pope Francis, @Pontifex

“One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.”
—Josef Stalin

Maybe your news feed is better than mine, but if it isn’t, what’s been dominating the headlines so far this week is that nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities have been hacked from their smartphones; that Hello Kitty is supposed to be a girl, not a cat (shock! shock!!!); that a cat who became an internet celebrity because of her “sad” eyes has been adopted; that one of the 3,000 members of the disgraceful Duggar family is looking forward to her first kiss; and that Joan Rivers has died. As always, there’s a whole lot of sports news, too, not to mention spoilers about upcoming TV series. Oh, and which celebrities have the worst hygiene.

Geez. Between these massively important stories, you might find an article or commentary about scientific discoveries about what started the Ebola epidemic or how HIV spreads, or a report about the millions who’ve been forced to flee Syria, or the torture and murder of minority communities in Iraq by ISIS/ISIL forces, or how they rose to power and what their ultimate aim is. Or how Napa Valley is responding to being hit by an earthquake. Or how the California coast has been deluged with huge jellyfish die-offs, and how fish that are normally never seen in warm waters have been washed ashore or caught as trophies thanks to global warming.

But more likely, you’ll see a big feature story on Angelina Jolie’s wedding dress: a triumph or a travesty? Mercy. Maybe those looking at her wedding photos would do better to notice her skeletal arms and hands and think about their tragic import instead. I can’t imagine that a photo of any other bride clutching her groom with those skeleton hands wouldn’t draw a horrified response, but everybody’s talking about her dress, not her body. After all, she’s Angelina Jolie, the luckiest woman in the world! Married to Brad Pitt! If she’s a living skeleton, why should we notice?

Sometimes, tucked between all the celebrity gossip and sports writing and adorable cat videos, we’ll see a feature on, say, women who’ve had acid thrown on them in India, an apparently common practice when they spurn a suitor’s advances or their in-laws don’t like them, or women who are raped and sometimes killed in India for going to the bathroom, or children and pets who’ve been left to die in hot cars here in the good old USA while their parent shops or sexts or simply forgets about their existence (until, in the last case, watching a “Game of Thrones” episode with a crying child reminded him, oh wait, I left my foster daughter in the car!). Or the fad here in America of punching strangers in the street, desperately harming and often killing them, including pregnant women, called “the knockout game.” How tough those guys must look to their watching buddies when they punch out an old man or woman! But hey, it’s just a game.

There are also stories about the crisis in the Ukraine, the crisis in Gaza, the protests in Pakistan, the ongoing monstrosity of the Taliban, the horrors that the Supreme Court has allowed to take root in American soil, the devastations that soulless companies like Monsanto have wrought all over the world, the monstrosities of the druglords in Mexico and Central America. Not to mention the volcanic eruptions in Iceland and other natural disasters. But why should we bother about them when we can read about the new lineup for this season’s “Dancing with the Stars” or Princess Diana’s makeup secrets?

I’m as guilty of this as anyone: If I see a feature about some especially luscious-looking recipe or a health tip or breakthrough, I’ll almost certainly click on it. Not to mention just about anything about science, archaeology, natural history, or paleontology (including today’s story about the discovery of the world’s largest dinosaur, Dreadnoughtus). When eBay sends me an e-mail listing marbles (which I collect) for sale on its site, I eagerly look them over and drool appreciatively, though I’ve not bought anything on eBay for many years, since it switched to PayPal-only payments. Ditto for peonies and other plants I love, including edibles like curry plants and Meyer lemons from nurseries, or product tests from America’ Test Kitchen (which Dijon mustard is really the best?).

Why do we spend our time on these frivolities when the world is suffering? I think it’s because they make us feel good. When I read about the latest discoveries at Stonehenge, I’m not thinking about the atrocities of ISIS/ISIL or the potential horror of the Russian aggression in the Ukraine or the effects that the prolonged drought in California and the citrus greening disease in Florida will be having on our food supply, not to mention the horrific aftermath of GMO crops and the monstrous amount of herbicides being dumped on them, the effects of global warming, the horrors inflicted by the Taliban on women. I’m not thinking about the rise of cancer and diabetes and dementia and so many other diseases. Instead, I’m reading about something “interesting.”

What’s someone who follows the Reiki Way to do in the face of so much global horror? Just reading the local police blotter about the street fights, stabbings, rapes, crashes, fires, pet abandonment and abuse, and so on is overwhelming. But fortunately, there actually is something we can do: send Reiki. I’ve written about this before, but it’s something I believe strongly in and suggest that all Reiki practitioners do, even if they haven’t progressed to the second level of Reiki, which teaches practitioners the symbol and technique that will allow you to transcend time and space.

It’s simply this: Hold a marble of the world in your hands. (They’re readily available for very little money at Land of Marbles, http://www.landofmarbles.com.) Look at this “Earth Marble,” observing the continents and landforms and the oceans, before you fold your hands over it and feel it warming as you call in the Teachers, Usui Founder, Hayashi Sensei, Takata Sensei, and any other Sensei you feel especially connected to. Ask them to help you with the world’s problems, to heal the world. Name any problems of special concern to you that you’d like them to focus on, such as global warming.

If you’ve been trained in the Third Symbol, draw it and the First and Second Symbols over the marble globe in your hand, 1-3-2-1. If you’ve been trained in the First Symbol, just draw it and put your hand down over the marble globe. If, for whatever reason, you’ve been trained in no symbols, just put your hand down over the marble globe and let the Reiki energy flow out to our suffering world. When you feel the heat (or tingling, or cold, or however the energy comes to and through you) diminish, open your hands, thank the Teachers for spending this time with you, and either blow the First Symbol over the glass globe or, if you don’t know the First Symbol, simply blow over it, set it down gently and with gratitude, close your hands in gassho (prayer position), and bow. Your easy exercise is over, and you’ve sent Reiki out to the whole world.

Just for today, Reiki the world.

The call for peace must be shouted. July 30, 2014

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Pope Francis, in a recent interview, noted that we were living in a time of many wars, and that “the call for peace must be shouted.” The Pope added that “Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but peace is never quiet, peace is always proactive.”

This reminded me of one of my favorite spiritual writers, Sri Eknath Easwaran, whose hero was Mohandas Gandhi, called Mahatma, “great soul.” Gandhi liberated India from British colonial control, not through violence, but through non-violent resistance, ahimsa. Decades later, Martin Luther King urged this approach to Blacks who were seeking equal rights and the end of race discrimination. Nelson Mandela used it to end apartheid in South Africa. The Dalai Lama uses it when he protests the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Most recently, the LGBT community has used it to gather support for full marriage rights and benefits.

To be successful, those who practice ahimsa must be media-savvy and know how to get the word out. Gandhi was a genius at this; the world watched the “little brown man in the loincloth” and his every move with fascination. Pope Francis is also a genius at it, with his press conferences, off-the-cuff remarks, unexpected, crowd-thrilling gestures, and tweets.

Given the ubiquity and power of social media today, it’s not necessary to protest social injustice or war or domestic violence or school shootings or drug wars or whatever by setting yourself on fire in a public place, as one American minister recently did. Instead, you can make your voice heard on Twitter or Facebook or your blog or website or Instagram or Pinterest or a million other open media sites. You don’t have to shout. If enough of us simply speak out, and continue to speak out, against every form of violence, our combined voices will shout for us.

Just for today, speak up for peace.

Inequality. June 3, 2014

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“Inequality is the root of social evil.”

—Pope Francis, @Pontifex

I could go on quite a rant about the obvious irony of this statement, given that the Church the Pope heads will not ordain women as priests or even deacons, much less elect a woman Pope; that Popes have recently been recognized as saints while the greatest saint of our age, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, still languishes; that nuns whose only crime was trying to address “the root of social evil” have been relentlessly persecuted by the watchdogs of the Church and placed under the control of a (male, of course) bishop. This is institutionalized inequality of the most hurtful and damaging kind.

But “the people’s Pope” isn’t aware of the irony, for his sincere focus is on righting economic inequity and bestowing the dignity of personhood on every human being, such as the elderly homeless person dying on the street of whom he famously asked, why doesn’t this make headlines, but a 2% drop in the stock market does? Francis is, genuinely, a man of good will. He also said this (also on @Pontifex), which is a beautiful warning:

“A society which abandons children and the elderly severs its roots and darkens its future.”

So true. I would add that a society that abandons the ugly, the overweight, the ignorant, the diseased, the mentally ill and mentally challenged, the disabled, the different, the very shy; a society that tolerates and/or promotes racism, bigotry, religious intolerance and hatred, discrimination against those whose sexual orientation differs from ours; a society that still uses stereotypes for those of different nationalities, that still defines itself in terms of “us” and “them,” darkens its future. And those who mock those who are different from, or less fortunate than, themselves, who sneer at them, who tell jokes at their expense or are rude and dismissive, are even worse, since their behavior is active rather than passive.

This doesn’t even begin to address the violence directed at those who are perceived to be different from us: The murder of homeless people. The torture of prisoners. The sentencing of a pregnant woman in Sudan to 100 lashes, followed by hanging, for daring to convert to Christianity in order to marry the man she loved. (After international outcry, this sentence has reportedly been commuted.) The abduction by (male) Islamic extremists of 200 little Christian girls from their school in Nigeria, still held hostage and being subjected to mercy knows what as I write. The helpless people in nursing homes and hospitals who are abused by the very people who have been hired to take care of them. Gang rapists in India. Murderous road rage and school shootings in America. I could go on, and on, and on. (And on.)

What can we, as Reiki people, do about the evil of social inequality, of mockery, denigration, discrimination, and actual (physical, mental, and property) damage? What would Usui Founder do?

As always, he pointed the way (and the Way). When the great earthquake leveled Tokyo in 1921, he rushed to give Reiki to its victims, treating thousands, whatever their social standing, appearance, age, sex, or limitations. Having grown up in the rigidly structured society of the Shogunate, a feudal society where the Imperial Family and court were at the top of the social ladder, the Samurai (including Mikao Usui’s family) next, and pretty much everyone else serfs or worse, this was a remarkable, radical act on Usui Founder’s part. Like the Lord Jesus, like Lord Buddha, like Mother Teresa, like Dogen Zenji, like all great healers, he saw the suffering person, not the artificial distinctions that set some of us above others.

He also set up his dojo and travelled constantly to teach Reiki to as many as wanted to learn, training thousands in the years between the earthquake and his death in 1926. He didn’t invite certain highborn individuals to join an elite secret society. He made his teachings available to all. And at the heart of his teachings were his Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals): Just for today, don’t get angry. Don’t worry. Be grateful. Work hard. Be kind.

This is the blueprint for banishing inequality. When you banish worry and anger, are grateful for your own blessings and those of everyone and the world around you, work hard to help others and further your own spiritual progress, and are kind to everyone, plants and animals and people alike, there is no room for inequality. You may not be able to cure the world’s ills, the selfishness and superficiality of a society that cares more for the latest shoe fashions than for starving people and abused animals and exhausted resources. But by pursuing Usui Founder’s model of Right Livelihood, you just might.

Miracles can happen. Maybe we can save the world. Maybe we can stop seeing people as either/or, rich or poor, clever or dull, ugly or gorgeous, fat or thin, old or young, brilliant or stupid, educated or ignorant, successful or failures. Maybe the Church will even start ordaining women.

What is a saint? April 25, 2014

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“The true saint goes in and out amongst the people and eats and sleeps with them and buys and sells in the market and marries and takes part in social intercourse, and never forgets God for a single moment.”

—Abu Sa’id

“How good it is for us when the Lord unsettles our lukewarm and superficial lives.”

—Pope Francis, @Pontifex

“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”

—Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

“The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees before the Blessed Sacrament.”

—Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

“When [13th-century Zen Master] Dogen asked the Zen cook in the Chinese temple why he didn’t have his assistants do the hard work of drying mushrooms in the hot sun, the cook said, ‘I am not other people.’ In the same way, we have to realize that this life is the only life we have. It’s ours, right now. If we don’t do the cooking ourselves, we are throwing our life away. ‘Keep your eyes open,’ Dogen instructs. ‘Wash the rice thoroughly, put it in the pot, light the fire, and cook it.’… When we cook—and live—with this kind of attention, the most ordinary acts and the humblest ingredients are revealed as they truly are.”

—Bernard Glassman and Rick Fields, “Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master’s Lessons for Living a Life that Matters,” tricycle

As I’m sure you know, two popes are going to be canonized (recognized as saints) this weekend. It’s unlikely that any of us will become popes, but, as these quotes show, we all have the opportunity to become saints, right where we are.

Just for today, don’t burn the rice.

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