Courage To Heal

For the last few years, I’ve been honored to participate in Unity of Missoula’s Day of Prayer interfaith service. The service is tonight and I will be speaking on behalf of our Buddhist sanghas, as part of our spiritual leadership team.

A short snippet about Unity:

Unity Worldwide Ministries is a worldwide network of ministries, ministers, licensed teachers and individuals providing practical teachings to help people live healthy, prosperous and meaningful lives. Unity is a positive path for spiritual living. We teach the effective daily application of the principles of Truth taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ.

Here’s what I plan on saying, based on Unity’s theme this year, which is: Courage to Heal and their affirmation of: I am a healing presence.

Prior to watching the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor just last night, I had planned on talking about the unification of mind and body in the present moment, and how dispersing our energy into thoughts about the past or worries about the future greatly reduces our ability to be a healing presence in the world. But at 9:00pm last night, after I watched this remarkable documentary, I decided to go in a different direction.

I’d like to start with a 1-minute exercise that Fred Rogers liked to do with people – I’d like us all to reflect on someone who has helped us along the way. So let us take 1-minute right now to do this in silence.

(One minute of silence, followed by a sound of the bell)

We all have people who have helped us along the way. People who, as Fred was shown saying at the end of the film during a commencement speech, have: “smiled us into smiling, talked us into talking, sang us into singing, or loved us into loving.”

To help is to heal. To help is to love. And each of us has the capacity to foster a healing presence in the world. It’s imperative to the well being of humanity that we not shrink away from or underestimate our ancestral bestowment, which is the power to help, heal, and love: ourselves, our friends and family, our co-workers, our neighbors, all beings who cross our path, and the earth.

Every morning, I start my day with 30 minutes of silent sitting meditation, followed by a gratitude practice that I’ve come up with on my own, using certain elements of our Buddhist tradition, which includes 3 prostrations to the earth, down on the ground, and one final standing bow. With the first prostration I say the same thing each morning: I bow down to the earth in gratitude for this one precious life. With the 2nd and 3rd prostrations, I offer rotating gratitudes of whatever is alive for me that day. And with the final standing bow, I conclude with: In gratitude for this one more opportunity to live today, may I be useful, may I be kind.

This way of starting my day helps to angle me in the direction of my highest intention, which is to be a healing, supportive, loving presence throughout the day to all those I will cross paths with. And in order for this calling to be sustained into the future, I need to cultivate and strengthen the seeds of gratitude, ease, and joy every day.

My hope for all of us is that we find ways in which to continue to water these same seeds for ourselves, so the we can shine our light forward, helping to illuminate the beauty, goodness, and splendors that exist within and around us. And when we do this, it will naturally usher others to join us in the work of transformation and healing.

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Neighborhood Pocket Library

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Last weekend, while walking two kiddos I was doing childcare for to a local park, we went past a house that had a small free library in a nice little window doored box on a post in their front yard (pictured above).  It’s a simple concept that I phrase as: Wanna book?  Take a book!  Gotta book?  Leave a book!  Turns out that you can go to http://littlefreelibrary.org/ and learn all about these free libraries and even find out where there are ones in your community around the U.S.

Well, I was so drawn to this idea that I decided to make my own!  You can buy a kit on the website above or simply make it a do-it-yourself project.  So I went to our local home re-use center and found a $5 brown metal cabinet.  After some light sanding, primer, and paint I was ready to go!  I searched through my bookshelf for books to donate to kick it off and even threw in some DVD’s (I came up with 13 books, 9 dvd’s, and 3 kids books).  And around 9:00am this morning I set it up out front of our house on the curb and now it’s open for business!  My good friend Jennifer helped me to come up with names and my favorite was one of her suggestions: Books in the Hood :)

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This is Just a Drill

City Emergency Response Drill, Morning Prep

City Emergency Response Drill, Morning Prep

Yesterday there was an emergency response drill at the airport.  Community members were asked to volunteer to be part of the process in order to enable city emergency responders to practice their organization and skills in the event of a tragic occurrence.  The FAA requires every airport to perform these drills every three years.

The day was sectioned into two parts and a volunteer could sign up for all or part of the day.  The morning was designed as the Response Phase, where volunteers would act as victims of a plane crash, and the afternoon was set up for Family Reunification, where volunteers would be searching for their injured loved ones from the crash at the local hospitals.  I signed up for the whole day.  When I heard about this volunteer opportunity I was motivated to get involved due to having been active with the clean-up efforts of the local avalanche that struck a neighborhood in our town three months ago, burying four and claiming the life of one.  After that experience I figured the more I can do to help train emergency responders the better.

The Response Phase required us to sign in around 7:30am.  We were given cards upon our arrival that listed our injuries and symptoms and then proceeded to go through moulage, the application of scars and make-up to simulate our assigned injuries.  There were around 70 volunteers so this process took some time.  My card stated that I had upper back pain, a lacerated left shoulder, and trouble breathing deeply.  It also had my vitals listed on it.  Here is a pic of my fake wound:

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