September was a tough month for a lot of folks. There was the usual start of school and the beginning of the religious education program here at All Souls. Some children were just starting out in preschool while others were leaving home for the first time to go to college. There were certainly a lot of feelings of excitement, change and letting go in the hearts and on the minds of the people I met on Sunday mornings. September brought the memories and grief of September 11 with it, too. And then this year add two devastating hurricanes within days of each other, and well, September turned out to be quite a month.
With all the rushing from here to there, with all the changes and emotions, with all the news swirling into our consciousness from the constant media updates, life can become overwhelming. We may only realize we are in need of a little inner peace when we are snapping at our children or partners, having trouble getting out of bed, or putting off doing the things we love to do.
But we must make the time to develop that inner peace. The world is in constant change and flux and to thrive in wholeness and wellness we must not only work hard and stay connected but develop the means to be at peace. Through our own inner peace we make a difference in the lives around us and, ultimately, as the Buddhists suggest, we bring peace to our communities and even to the world.
At the All Souls staff retreat in early September, one of the questions we discussed to get to know each other more deeply was what would you do, or do differently, if you had one year to live? I said I would go to the beach every single day. Audette challenged me to make that my spiritual practice now. Why wait? After all, I do live 5 minutes from the ocean. And so, I am practicing inner peace by going to the place I love at least a 4-5 times a week.
The other day I sat across from a sign on the downtown C train. Practice meditating right now, it read. Hmmm, I said. Then: Connect to your breath. Look around at the people sharing the day with you and silently say to them “may you be happy.” I tried it right then and there and all the way to Penn Station. I felt a difference in myself immediately and as I left the train the man sitting next to me said, “you are beautiful, have a blessed day.” Maybe we each can make a difference in ourselves and in the world by offering peace in this way to others?
These are two offerings for you and your family to try to renew your spirits in times of chaos and busy-ness. Our religious education webpage blog (under the news tab) will also be a place to find all kinds of resources on this type of thing, as well as social justice, Unitarian Universalism and more!