This summer I am working as a director of a leadership program geared towards inner city youth, aged 12-16. Each day has its own successes and challenges. Here is a page from my journal. The picture is mine, taken the day I wrote this.
July 08, 2013–
I couldn’t sleep. I woke up around 5:45 running on only a few hours of sleep, but I think it’s meant to be. I just enjoyed the most magnificent sunrise. With a coffee. In a canoe. In complete solitude. I count each statement on each finger as if each sentence is a dessert. I feel as if I have been transported back to British Columbia for a moment.
Off in the distance, I see a loon. I feel at home here on the lake, despite its challenges. And although every day presents a new challenge to test me, never have I felt more excited, passionate or alive than I do now. Working with these kids gives me the outlet I need to plug in.
Like electric wires running haywire, zooming around me, through me, with me. I dive in completely, lucky to be alive. Lucky to have the opportunity to give myself to them.
The loon is coming towards me to check me out. Friend? Not today. It disappears below the surface. I continue to allow myself to be taken by the current. Soloing my canoe is a meditation for me. I relax completely with every dip of the paddle. I aim to make as little noise as possible, as I try to take in the moment completely.
I wish I could hug it, I say to myself. It’s odd, but true. I want to take everything into my arms.
I long to add some texture to the moment, so I focus on the feeling provided by the resistance of the water against the paddle. It’s as if it says to me, “I’m right here,” in a reassuring manner. I focus on the effort my body makes, how each muscle spins a sinewy web and catapults me to movement. Then I add breath, like a spice, to the mix. I become aware suddenly that I have tears in my eyes because the moment is so overwhelmingly perfect. So imperfectly perfect.
This moment is complete, and so am I.
I wonder what I’ve done to deserve this, and suddenly I start to feel fear. What if this perfect moment is almost over? What if I never experience it again? I want it.
“I want it, now. It’s mine.” My ego says. “Why?”
I look up at a bird passing by and the answer arises without effort: My soul is starved.
—Or so my ego thinks. Whenever I have a spiritual experience, or a genuinely awesome moment, I want to take it with me. I want to keep it. I want to pack it up with me and wrap it so tightly that it can’t breathe. With an exhale, I realize how this sense of greed hinders my development.
Some of the youth I work with have grown up in ‘not enough.’ It’s unfortunate because they deserve everything and it breaks my heart. When we get to meal time they snatch up the food quickly, often taking more than they can eat. It reminds me of when I was young. Sometimes I had no idea when I would eat again. I would hoard food too. It was a survival strategy.
I want to cram every last morsel of this experience into my backpack and never, ever, ever let it go. I am a spiritual hoarder. Desperate, clinging, drowning.
I inhale with this thought and let it go, full of gratitude for the insight because now I understand that the difference between physical and spiritual nourishment is that spiritual nourishment is always available in every moment. Infinite, abundant, patient, ever present, ever kind. Wisdom is the thread that weaves the Mala bead moments of our lives together, and it goes with us everywhere. OM.
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Ed: Sara Crolick