3 - Issue 6
SPIRIT IS NEVER DESTROYED
There is something in our human spirit that can never be destroyed. How do we live from that place within us, at a time when the fires of destruction have challenged our peace of mind? The world's sages say that if we connect ourselves to the highest qualities of human excellence, we may live in harmony. [After a spate of recent wildfires,] on many areas of our local hills there is nothing to see but rock [and charred homes]. Somehow those rocks remain imperturbable. In the months ahead I shall seek to connect to the qualities of forbearance, fortitude, patience, and courage—to that firmness of spirit which, like those rocks, stands strong in the face of adversity. I shall try to avoid depression over the devastated landscape by recognizing that life is a cycle, and that beauty will inevitably be formed anew.
When I walk along our hillside paths and come across the bodies of animals that seem to deny the lives that once thrived within them, I shall try to remember that when I speak harshly, I allow the fire of hatred to burn another. When I hike into an area to find contemplation and solitude, I am instead overcome by the loss of green and shade once given by the trees. I shall try to remember that when I ignore the suffering of another, my heart dries up, loses its ability to give the shade of comfort to my neighbor in need, and I become less than human.
At midnight, when I awaken, agitated by thoughts of a friend's selfish behavior, and lie there smug in self-righteousness, I shall try to remember that the faults I see in others are my own, and that when the fire of anger burns in my heart, health of body and inner peace are burned with it.
The next time someone asks me to do something I don't feel like doing, something that will give happiness to someone or make another life a little easier, I shall try 'remembering the firefighters who risked their lives for us' to help, in spite of overwork and exhaustion. If someone attempts to control or manipulate me, I shall recall the wild blaze leaping over the hills, and realize that the greedy flames of human tyranny have no real hold over anyone, that a universal power controls our world. The next time someone tries to take over my life, I shall try to withhold panic, and remain calm, unaffected, and secure.
When it is possible once again to drive into the canyons, there to stare in sadness at our impure streams, I shall try to recognize that sorrow comes from clinging to desire-a desire for life to be other than it is. Instead, I will try to cling to the Creator rather than the creation, which is forever subject to death and decay. I shall try to remember that to rage at life for all that has happened out there, to rage at the arsonists, or at any misfortune, is to be burned by the futile inferno of ingratitude, bitterness, fear, and thwarted desire - attitudes that have no lofty place in the grand scheme of our universe.
The heart of our areas still stands. Here, where people tread so many different paths to reach the spirit, we have come together for a few days, forgotten our differences, and touched one another. We have experienced a new joy, a feeling that we are here on earth to help each other, that we need each other, and that through danger and crises, we come to unite, share, and realize that none of us is really alone.
- Joan Englander
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