For several weeks now, the thought of writing anything on nonviolence has hung heavy in my mind - - but no inspiration. Then came a letter this morning with the following poem by Jeanne Loehmann in Olympia, Washington attached:
Fasting The Heart
Complicit with misery, trapped by the
Weight of daily news, unable to refuse the
Dismal stories or put the paper down
Unread, cry Hold! Enough!
I’m overfilled with anger, grieving faces,
And still I let it in, this world
Of brutal facts I have no use for,
Cannot handle, do not need.
The grievous store of human woe
Leaves little room for human joy.
How to find a way to fast my heart for better use,
Make the muscle supple, lean? How to free my mind
From such compulsive need to know, relinquish
Pride so certain-sure that there’s always something I
Can do to change the sadness, meet every
Anguished hungry need.
I want time to stand in the sunset light and
Simply watch the glory come and go, learn to
be aware, not overwhelmed.
To give my widow’s mite
With no more thought
Than kindest blessing.
The words said it all to me this morning as I felt my great sorrow for the Norwegian tragedy - - for the hunger in Somalia - - for the playground bullying in the highest levels of government. A fast of the heart makes sense.
Within minutes another gift arrived from the teachings of the Buddha –the seventh of Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path: Be present. Be ardent. Focus on the Here and Now. Avoid dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Accept the bad with the good for they are part of who we are – Right Mindfulness.
Because I forget from time to time, these are welcome reminders that living nonviolence often begins with being mindful of how I permit the violence that pervades human life to enter my own being, to color my perceptions, to weaken my resolve, to steal my hope.
And so, for this moment at least, I feel a simple gratitude filling the ravaged places in my heart - - gratitude for the worldwide web of nonviolent compassion that catches me up unexpectedly when I most need to be caught. For today, it is enough.