To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance.
To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of
life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty
to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what
is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To
try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.
- Arundhati Roy
In the seasons of a human life when we are reacting, thrashing about, drowning in the troubled surface of compelling events, it is advisable to stop moving.
Quiet the flailing of limbs, the fearful graspings of mind. There is a clear, unobstructed view of certain crucial, necessary truths we so desperately need -- offered freely, but revealed only to those courageous enough to become still.
And, in stillness, the sea will bear us up.
Those of us called to bear witness to the just and the unjust, the love and hate, the dark and the light, bend to forces infinitely larger and wiser than ourselves. The rest is folly, a vanity of impermanence, a striving after wind.
It is now that we are most in need of one another. To help remember these forces throughout all life, infinitely larger and more magnificent than ourselves, are at work even now. Only in stillness can we see what lies beneath, through the elegance of a quieter physics. The singular gift, the reassurance we offer those everywhere we go, wherever we are called, is this: There are things so essential, so true, so beautiful, they can never be taken from us.
This morning, I share a journal entry from the shore of a sacred lake, high in the volcanic mountains of Guatemala. May you be cleansed and renewed by healing breezes that float upon this ancient, yet still very much alive, convergence of earth, sea and sky.
In the heart of Guatemala, there is a lake called Atitlan, high in the mountains and ringed by volcanoes. Late in the afternoon, a wind comes. You first see ripples on the far side of the lake, a disturbance in the water that moves deliberately and swiftly until finally, just as you hear the sound of small waves chopping the shore, the wind comes to you, lifts your hair and makes the trees dance.
The people of Santa Cruz, who have lived on the shore of this lake for generations, call this wind Xocomil -- "The wind that blows all bad things away."
To have a name for such a thing.
To be able to be so quiet as to know that such a thing is happening, and to know that it has a name, it must have a name. And finally, to live so still in the moment it comes that as it gently moves over and through your body, you can hear the name itself: Xocomil.
And then, to feel how good and necessary is this thing, this wind that blows all bad things away.
Such a name presupposes that we have already learned many things. First, that there are, in fact, bad things.
Bad things leech deep into heart, take root in tissue and bone, and rot into the core of memory. Bad things can corrode both love and truth, and, if fed or even left untended, can choke the life force as surely as a vine can choke the tree.
Some things are simply bad because they cause harm or do violence to truth or beauty or grace. Other things are bad because they come at the wrong time, too early or too late, to flow easy and true in the river of the moment. They become interruptions in a process of natural unfolding - a young stem is broken, a bud snapped off before blossoming.
We must have learned that every good thing can be bad - a lover secretly taken at the wrong time that poisons a marriage, too much money spent on the wrong thing, a beautiful promise, made in haste, whose subsequent breakage will cause harm farther and more deeply than anyone could have imagined.
Then, having learned of bad things, we have to learn the next, true thing: That bad things can be swept away. Bad things can be invited to dissolve, to fall away, to become less visible, less true and important. We can cut off their food supply and refuse to nourish them, and in time bad things can become thin and brittle. In these moments, if there is a stiff wind that blows through us in late afternoon, such bad things can be taken by the wind, released from our grasp, and blown away from here, from now, into some distant world.
This, then, is the third thing. There is such a wind, a wind that can sweet away our hurts, disappointments, and grief. .
This afternoon, in mottled sunlight of pen and paper, it blows across my face and hands, even as I write, even as my fingers gently loosen their grip on this jagged, persistent gash that has been in my heart every day for a long season, until a wind, this wind, came up and washed all bad things away.