Out of the large group sitting around the campfire a little over a week ago, 3 of us had the same birth date. September 11th. It used to be an obscure little day, but nevermore. We talked about how strange it is to be celebrating our birthdays on a day when the rest of the world is in remembrance, and how people react when you tell them that your big day happens to land on the infamous 9-11. They get all quiet and serious..........kind of how one responds when one hears you're suffering from something.
But the flip side of it? No one forgets. I love that part!
Last year on this day, I wrote about the fact that change, including changing our world, begins by looking within. So many events occur outside of our control. What we do have control over is how we react to the event. Sadly, we are not as far along as we would like to be. Change is happening in Afghanistan for women and children, though it is and must continue slowly in order to somehow take root. However, 6 years post 9-11, the world still searches for Bin Laden. The threats to our safety loom large. There is still an empty space where the World Trade Centre once graced the skyline. We have much to do. We have a long way to go.
Last year, I read a book entitled Praying Naked by Francis Stroud. It contains teachings originally written by Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest whose work continues to resonate 20 years after his death. I've written about it in the past, but I returned to it because of the messages it had on meditative prayer. I'm a firm believer that "life is 10% things that happen to you and 90% how you react to the 10%" it seemed like a good idea to remind myself that what I can control is my way of responding.
Events happen outside of yourself. Change happens from within. If we want change, if we want to alter our understanding of the world around us, we must focus on developing enlightenment from within. It's what we can control.....our awareness. Though we can learn from our past, our history, we can't change it. We need to focus on today, the present....a gift from God.Take the time today to be still for a couple of moments..........to clear your head of all cluttering thoughts. Focus on the sounds around you.....and on your breathing...........be aware of the fact that if you are focused on your own breathing and the various sounds around you.........you will begin to calm those ongoing thoughts and feelings related to all the external stress you may be absorbing.
These first few steps are the beginning of meditative prayer. How simple is that?And to think all these years, I thought prayer was such a complicated ritual only performed before meals and in church, when in fact it is simply a way of silencing and calming all the "noises" at anytime..........a method of stripping away everything one can't change in order to become more awake to who we are.
I wish I had the ability to stop all wars.........to rid the world of evil................. but it ain't gonna happen. What I can do, however is control how I respond and react to these events. I will take the time to day to remember the tragic events of 9-11 and all the events before and after it.
And then, I will meet my husband for lunch to celebrate life and my birthday.
I borrowed this quote last year from Paul, who had posted it on his blog then. It captivated me than as it does today. It was written by a friend. I'm sorry Paul, I can't remember who is was........
"A way of coming back to the harbour of ourselves is to ask who we are. It takes a whole lifetime to take your place in your own life. Solitude is given to you to receive yourself. Maybe dear friends it's time to illuminate God in the mirror of our souls?"