Point of Focus
"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness...because in the last analysis all moments are key moments and life itself is grace."
~ Frederick Buechner
Hello Dear Ones, how are you doing?
It is impossible for me to begin communication in written or spoken word these days without first asking this question. The need to know feels urgent, a moment I cannot let pass. My heart longs to gather up the preciousness of the relationships I have even as it ponders anew how interrelated I am to so many in the world who I do not know but whose lives are touching mine, whether here in Durham or somehow, from somewhere on the other side of the world.
How are the people doing who you love and care about? My children are fine, as are my sisters and mother. My dog is pretty ill. Friends are mostly well, even those who are managing the difficulties of living in New York, living alone, or living having fallen ill or someone in their lives fallen ill, or having lost someone dear in recent weeks.
Are you able to talk about this surreal and profound time in your life with anyone? If not, please reach out to us, we have people in this community who have both a gift and training in listening and conversing.
As for me, my spirit is well -- though I readily admit that on some days it feels like an upward climb.
Most mornings I talk by phone to a dear friend who lives in Boston, and though we might ramble on for a while about many things, the point of our conversation is to respond to three questions we ask one another:
How is your spirit today?
How is your spiritual practice?
What is your intention for today?
We’ve been doing this for several years, both to check in with each other and for accountability, not so much to one another as it is to hold ourselves accountable to -- ourselves. These calls are serving us well now.
It is something to hear oneself speak aloud answers to these questions to another human being -- responses sometimes full of richness and depth, and at other times somewhat superficial and mundane as we are indeed just phoning it in, making it through the day because it feels as if that’s all we’ve got right now, but wanting to connect nonetheless.
Speaking these answers aloud feels like a portal into our daily selves. We speak truthfully, not worried about impressive or good answers. We focus on listening, only offering advice if it’s requested. And though I am glad my friend cares to hear how I’m doing and I care to hear about her, it is quite powerful for me to hear myself pronounce where I’m at day after day. Am I moving along with grace and ease or stuck in a ditch somewhere? Ditches and potholes seem to abound on my path these days, how am I navigating them?
I both love and am unsettled by the last question: What is your intention for today? Though sometimes tempting, this is not about declaring something from a To Do List or about achieving goals. It’s more like, “What personal intention might we set for being what we want to see in the world?” Intentional acts of creation from the inside out; ways of being before doing. I am sometimes unsettled by the awesomeness of this act: declaring intentional energies and ways of being to offer into the ocean of humanity today. Will it be joy, love, generosity, compassion, self care, calm, community, rest? Will I live this intention?
It feels good and useful to start the day this way even when the start feels painful or difficult, or if it becomes that way as the day moves along. The events of our present time have convinced me more than ever how important our intentionality is.
And most often, when I begin with this clear point of focus those other two questions are more easily answered: life might be troubled, but my spirit is well. And the mere focus on the daily act of declaring and then living with intention becomes meaningful spiritual practice. Which doesn’t mean I always realize it as I’d like! -- but it’s been good for my heart and that’s when I know that life itself is grace.