Like rivers struggling to continue the flow to their final destination — blocked by drought, dams, and debris — a confluence of events in both the spirit and the physical laid itself flat on last week’s diary.
Eager to give what I might to bring light to the table of American politics, as opposed to the impenetrable block wall under maniacal construction that divides your vision from mine, as opposed to chatting about truth and lies and finding a way through unwieldy thorns, a group mediation was offered to help uplift the American electorate. I read the invitation as calming the fire with love. That resonated.
“…intended to uplift the hearts and minds of the American people in this important election year. No matter where we live on the planet, the results of the US elections are likely to impact us all, due to the influence of the US on world affairs. This year, it is obvious that extreme and volatile elements are at play in the US political environment. Although these forces present undeniable dangers, there is also an unusual opportunity for a significant positive shift to occur in the US political system, in service to our collective evolution.”
I’m not new to mediation. We’re old friends, informally introduced in 1957; formally introduced in 1971. Like many of my friends, we’ve been besties; we’ve been busy with our lives and lost touch; we’ve reunited like old lovers who never quiet ended their affair that began before our hair turned gray.
Meditation is a majestic prayer that allows us to lift above the storm and calm the air around us. Meditation is a hike into the heart, the mind, the soul. Meditation is a door that opens to vision, understanding and quietude.
Meanwhile, back to everyday life. The television blared tales of politicians and their believers with scenes that equate to moments in a Hieronymous Bosch painting. “The Temptation of St. Anthony” comes to mind. In the last few weeks, Bosch’s art came to life in America. It read like a National Enquirer fantastical report. Oh wait. There was a lurid National Enquirer report about one of the presidential candidates. (See what I mean.)
So I was eager for an uplifting meditation that might send rays of positive vibrations that would help unblock the political rivers’ flow. I was eager to let another’s voice guide me through a meditative moment that makes a difference.
Urging “empowered compassion,” the author of a host of books began the online-access meditation using the ancient tonglen method. To my way of thinking, this is a risky route for public consumption and especially for the less experienced. But a knowledgeable guide will wisely choose his or her words to bring a most formidable and positive experience. I placed my trust in the guidance of this author and followed through.
Using 5 stages, with each stage digging deeper into bringing compassion within toward those who are antithetical to the compassion movement, is what I expected, and I was willing to offer. Sadly, at Stage 5, the stage where one jumps into the fire and walks through it unscathed and strengthened, the author, to my way of thinking and my empathetic heart (and, perhaps, overly empathetic—but I, too. am a writer, so visualization is strong in this one), veered off course — so much so, that his words made me physically ill, and shattered the vibration of cosmic light brought into my realm. I pulled out of the mediation, turned off my computer and tried to shake the negativity that overcame the moment.
But it lingered. My energy was gone. My head throbbed. No matter what, I could not shake off the visualizations and the asking of me to visit the depth of a Bosch-painted nightmare in order to uplift the American electorate.
Hours later I performed my own cleansing ceremony with white flowers, the smoke of incense in the sun while I read an ancient work of beauty by an Asian poet.
I am not wont to criticize those willing to add voice to the movement of bringing divine compassion and empathy to our world as a source of healing for the angry, the very, very angry and disregarded populace in America. Yet, I will grade this public meditation as a fail.
Early the next morning Spouse and I took to a nearby trail that winds through nature’s spring glory. The trail unites woodlands, to fields, marshes and the sea. Beneath the soil dwells the remains of a prehistoric native culture that once thrived in this space.
Boisterous birds filled the moist morning air with song and chatter. Yellow light from the early sun sliced through the tall pines and sparkled on the damp carpet of bright green grass as fresh as a newborn child. I felt myself slip into the special place that only nature can provide.
Then, from across the marsh, an overalled man clipped quickly toward us. I, with camera at the ready, stopped to photo flowers that lined the pathway, and to let the man pass. But no. He stopped at our crossroads. Within his first two sentences, the man who was clean but lean of teeth in his mouth, said, “I don’t much like America anymore. It’s gone to hell.”
The last thing I wanted to talk about at that moment was America and our politics. It was obvious he was one of the angry, the very, very angry and disregarded citizens in America. I could easily guess which current politician spoke to him “like it is.”
He shared his story of unemployment for the last twenty years and how he has traveled across the country and back. But he no longer loves America. We listened. We smiled. I saw him in light and felt his disenfranchisement from society. And here we stood midway in one of America’s most beautiful, peaceful and free to explore chucks of real estate. “If I had my choice, I would pick anywhere in America to live,” I began defending my heritage in an effort to remind my fellow citizen that to be here is better than so many other spots on the planet. “I’m grateful that I don’t live in Iraq. Heck, I’d rather be here than even Tokyo (too crowded), North Korea, or any number of places in the world.” I didn’t want to preach. It’s not my place, but I added, “We are so blessed in so many ways as Americans — even in our darkest moments.” I inhaled deeply, ready for a rebuttal or God only knows what.
The echo of crashing waves from the Pacific Ocean added to the song of birds, and the timbre of pines in a gentle breeze. The overalled man smiled as he savored the blue sky and clean air. Peace worked its magic and relaxed his shoulders. “Yes,” he agreed.
He ambled off into the woods in one direction and we into another.
The art of Bosch transcended into the art of a Mother Goose fairytale with light leading us through the forest, down to the river that followed its path to the sea.
One thought on “A Meditation for America”
Obviously one of your more thoughtful pieces, and equally thought provoking for your readers. However, you must enlighten me as to your informal introduction to meditation in 1957.
With admiration I remain,
Still loving America from the
Veterans Affairs Medical Center, DC