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A jump into space

On October 14th 2012, Felix Baumgartner jumped to earth from an altitude of 24 miles, breaking the speed of sound (Mach 1.24) during free fall.

He said after his successful landing: "Let me tell you - when I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble. You don't think about breaking records anymore, you don't think about gaining scientific data…”

Starting a life of renunciation feels – as I have experienced it (and still do) – very much the same. Naturally, the similarities between the two may not seem very great. But the inner space one confronts from the very moment of a vocational decision feels as vast and deep as outer space. The field ahead is of numberless possibilities and the speed … well, it’s one’s life.

Answering the question, “How am I going to live?” is one more choice that I will make every day; it includes the integrity and plenitude of all that I’ll do. I may not feel the thrill and excitement of a free jump from 25 miles above earth, but the feeling of living with meaning and moving in a space of continuous spiritual unfolding is a permanent one.

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Retreat Poem

There is an end to every beginning

The steep and shear tops of mountains

Become the fertile loam of the valleys

The delicate and the robust meet at their ends

 

So it is that every end, in its emptiness,

Becomes the seed of the future.

Light travels in a vacuum,

And is clouded by mass.

Absence is the only real precursor to

Presence.

 

Give me not the Certainty of

Knowledge, nor the Fervency of Faith.

Trap me not in the Snares of Security.

Shake my hand, but do it from within your sleeve ...

 

I do not want to know my Maker

But rather lie down in sleep beside him (or her)

My soul does not reach to the heavens;

It's a button-hole

And the world, life, is the button.

 

And as I fly once more over the snow-covered hills

As the night sky encompasses me, and I, warmly, it

The Earth, a nugget of iron, similar to my hemoglobin,

Protects me. I shield it with my heart.

Snow, it does not chill my bones. Stones and running water

Are streams of love and white hope-drops.

 

It's the end of the world,

Life has just begun ...

 

I pray we may all

Come to that infinitesimal point of disappearance:

Wholeness.

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My reason for being

Taylor, a former student at our preschool, came to visit before he headed off to college to pursue a music career playing the French horn. Reminiscing about his time at the school, I told him I remembered when his appendix burst. Then he said something about his brush with death that made me really start to think about life. “I remember it, too,” he said. “ I think of it sometimes when I am tired of practicing. I think there is a reason for me to be here. That helps me to go back to practicing.” The childhood experience of coming close to death helped him to reflect on his reason for being. He wants to make the most of his life and do the best in what he was meant to do.

All of us have a reason for being, although we may not be so dramatically reminded of it. Some of us may have discovered it and committed ourselves to it, while some of us are still looking. The lesson I learned from this aspiring musician was that the fulfillment of my life’s mission isn’t made in some grand accomplishment, such as playing with the philharmonic, but is made up of the everyday acts of life. It is how we fulfill these everyday acts that takes us to our reason for being. Instead of thinking of them as repetitive or boring, I can look beyond the specific acts and tasks that I do each day and see what is important. What could the real meaning be?

Community life helps me to do this. Routine, instead of being avoided, is seen as a way to get to the real meaning of life. It is not what we do, but how we do it. Doing the same things help me to stay centered on doing these everyday jobs like they really matter. And they do really matter. Besides the tasks fitting into a larger mosaic of human effort, the effort and attention I put into them helps me to grow spiritually. I no longer look to get something from them, but simply to give my best effort.

Community life helps me to stay focused and not look for distractions. Then I am invited to look at my real intention. When I clean a room, it’s not to be recognized as the best homemaker. It is rather to have a clean room that contributes to a better environment for the whole group. In this way, a simple task becomes a way of connecting to others. It’s not about me and my mop; it’s about everyone.

Intention is the essential piece, isn’t it? So discovering and perfecting my intention is for me like Taylor’s practicing the French horn. Simple everyday acts done with an intention of connecting with others will take me to my reason for being.

Recent Comments
Patricia Colleran
Thank you, Diana, for the uplifting thoughts. Wishing you happiness, love and new friendships in the New Year!
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
Linda
How reflective! A meaningful experience for all of us who are searching within.
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
Adam G
Thanks, Diana, for sharing!!!
Saturday, 19 July 2014 6:06 PM
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Divine Blessings

El Angel is the name of a waterfall in the lush rainforest of Costa Rica. It is located near the two Cafh spiritual communities in that country. I had seen pictures that showed its beauty and heard the astounding descriptions of those lucky enough to have seen it. So when I had the great privilege of visiting those communities, I looked forward to the journey into the rainforest that led to El Angel. The walk through the pristine rainforest is not only breathtaking but also powerful; I could feel the energy of nature surrounding me. The culmination of the journey was reaching the falls. I sat on a rock in the river, watching the fall of water with its irresistible beauty and purity. The minutes passed, but I didn’t notice; that moment was full of Divine presence. . . As I contemplated the waterfall, all I could think of was the divine blessings we receive, incessantly. Some we notice or understand better than others, yet the Divine keeps pouring blessings on us. Since then, I haven’t returned to El Angel, I don’t even know how the waterfall looks nowadays. But the experience remains as vivid as ever. I find that I can take that same journey within, through the forest of my inner self, till I’m able to reach my heart, the place where all blessings cascade like a waterfall . . . and be truly aware of them.

Recent Comments
Felicitas
Diane; I share your feelings. I also feel it is privilege to live in a spiritual community. I started living in community in 1968!
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
Lourdes D
Diane, you are right, waterfalls are breath taking experiences. I felt united with nature and all souls.
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
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Relevance

Part of our responsibility here in the Community of Tivoli is to administer and take care of the Retreat Houses.

These facilities are used by the members of Cafh that don’t live in Community as a place to host their retreats and other activities and are used throughout the summer months for this purpose.

This year some members of a group that is not affiliated with Cafh, a non-profit group called “Common Fire”, asked if they could use the space for their Board of Directors’ meeting.  Common Fire has a housing coop just down the street from us.

We have known Jeff and Kavitha, two of the directors, since they began building the coop, and on occasion have shared meals there and talked about living in “Community”.

Their original plan in using our retreat space had included  time for meet and greet between Common Fire board members and Tivoli Cafh Community members. However, since their members had come from all over the country and they had many issues to resolve in their meetings and limited time to do so, we were only able to get together for lunch on Sunday afternoon.

We all contributed different dishes to make up a buffet meal and gathered on the patio of our Community house.

It’s hard to get to know people or have a deep conversation sitting at a long table, for an hour or so, over a meal with little kids running around and in danger of falling into the pool, but it was fun and interesting and enjoyable.

At some point I sat down next to Kavitha. She remarked that she found it very inspiring that some of us had lived in Community for 40 years. This was refreshing to me because although in general, most people respect the Community members as individuals, they tend to see living in a Community as a bit “weird”. 

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Diana S
I agree with Kavitha that to see a long life of commitment is inspiring. To see someone's life unfold and become the fruit of his... Read More
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
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More on heroes and our mission in life

In my previous blog, Mission Impossible, I shared some of my ideas about one’s mission in life and what it is to be a hero.

Let me add more . . . . Sometimes along the journey of life I fall asleep and forget where I was going. Then, by the time I realize this, I can only say, “I’m stuck”. But to see this and tell myself so is my first step towards getting back on track. If I look deep, deep within myself and at my ideals, the yearning for something high and unique, takes me back home to the source of my life and the best in myself. It is like the phoenix born from the ashes, the hero resurrecting the deep longing of the heart that sometimes becomes forgotten but never dies.

To fulfill one’s highest yearnings is not easy. The hero who has to fight the unbeatable many times would like to just forget who he/she is, what he/she has to do. But there is no way to ignore my mission. It knocks at my door continuously. It haunts my sleep. It buzzes in my brain. It does not leave me alone until I give myself entirely to what I was born to do.

So when I am at a loss in life, I tell myself: “Don’t give up! Get up, look around you and get ready to battle for the best in you and all of humankind. Do something for someone else and don’t wait for rewards. Give freely, with no strings attached.” Is this simple for me to do? No. But who wants what’s easy and the emptiness that goes hand in hand with it? To reach meaning and fulfillment is not a scratch on the surface and it is a continuous challenge. My happiness is in the effort and in knowing that I am not alone. You and many others are with me on this journey. So, for the sake of all humankind, let’s not stop!

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Mission Impossible

When I see an actor jumping from a plane, bouncing off a building, fighting ten bad guys at once, and doing the unbelievable, I laugh and say to myself: “…only in the movies!” But then I look at it from another angle: What is someone like Tom Cruise really saying with all that jumping, falling and then… surprise... he is still alive?! His message is that of the hero: “It doesn’t matter what happens to me, the outcome of the mission is what matters, and I matter only because I am the instrument that carries it out.”

Living with a mission is living meaningfully and with a purpose. The awareness of the mission makes me go ahead even when I am tired; it makes me forget that I am sad or sick. It makes me forget myself and think of others and feel more deeply the beauty of life, of everything that is good and worthwhile.

But the mission does not need to be Mission Impossible. It might be as simple (but not always easy) as doing what I always do: my work at school with the children, smiling at others, not losing patience, cleaning, cooking, making an extra effort or consoling someone. The Mission is to do the best I can do, at every moment. But the sense of mission becomes even stronger in difficult moments. It is then that I tell myself: I must go on. I can’t bury myself in my room with my tears or give up, because there is something important I have to do: my mission. I have to get up, overcome the obstacles, and keep on going.

There is a beautiful Cafh prayer which always reminds me of the mission to be fulfilled, the difficulties to overcome, how to go on, and it always makes me feel stronger. It goes like this: “From the beginning to the end there are obstacles, the seeker knows obstacles until the end. The obstacle knows him well. Rise up seeker, life is struggle after struggle! This is known even by the greatest angels.” Then I tell myself, if even the greatest beings have to overcome difficulties, why should it be different for me?

To fulfill my Mission, I must overcome the obstacles that arise. I am Mission Impossible, the hero, the unbelievable one when, in my small place and in my life, as little and simple as it may seem, I rise above my difficulties with a strength from within that says: “I will never be conquered; I will overcome. I will keep on trying until the day I die.”

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Guest
Everyone's life should have a focus because this gives you a direction or mission to fulfill. Great article.
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 6:06 PM
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Mission Impossible

When I see an actor jumping from a plane, bouncing off a building, fighting ten bad guys at once, and doing the unbelievable, I laugh and say to myself: “…only in the movies!” But then I look at it from another angle: What is someone like Tom Cruise really saying with all that jumping, falling and then… surprise... he is still alive?! His message is that of the hero: “It doesn’t matter what happens to me, the outcome of the mission is what matters, and I matter only because I am the instrument that carries it out.”

Living with a mission is living meaningfully and with a purpose. The awareness of the mission makes me go ahead even when I am tired; it makes me forget that I am sad or sick. It makes me forget myself and think of others and feel more deeply the beauty of life, of everything that is good and worthwhile.

But the mission does not need to be Mission Impossible. It might be as simple (but not always easy) as doing what I always do: my work at school with the children, smiling at others, not losing patience, cleaning, cooking, making an extra effort or consoling someone. The Mission is to do the best I can do, at every moment. But the sense of mission becomes even stronger in difficult moments. It is then that I tell myself: I must go on. I can’t bury myself in my room with my tears or give up, because there is something important I have to do: my mission. I have to get up, overcome the obstacles, and keep on going.

There is a beautiful Cafh prayer which always reminds me of the mission to be fulfilled, the difficulties to overcome, how to go on, and it always makes me feel stronger. It goes like this: “From the beginning to the end there are obstacles, the seeker knows obstacles until the end. The obstacle knows him well. Rise up seeker, life is struggle after struggle! This is known even by the greatest angels.” Then I tell myself, if even the greatest beings have to overcome difficulties, why should it be different for me?

To fulfill my Mission, I must overcome the obstacles that arise. I am Mission Impossible, the hero, the unbelievable one when, in my small place and in my life, as little and simple as it may seem, I rise above my difficulties with a strength from within that says: “I will never be conquered; I will overcome. I will keep on trying until the day I die.”

Recent comment in this post
Guest
Everyone's life should have a focus because this gives you a direction or mission to fulfill. Great article.
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 6:06 PM
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