What is being a father? It’s, at least in part, about beginning. It is rejuvenating to locate ourself near the start of a child’s life. There are so many chances to get it right. The thought that we might also get it wrong flits across our mind, but it’s gone before we can even shiver at its presence. It’s also about returning to that question again and again, each time failing to acquire additional insight.
We all face times beyond our control when life doesn’t follow our designs and we’re asked to work with life and not fight, curse or hide from it. When insisting on our way, we can get so tangled in our will that we can’t find or feel the wind of Spirit. During these times—when we fear there is no meaning and it seems there’s nothing holding us up—our will can puff, snap and flap about in a desperate attempt to fill what looms as an empty life.
To this day, my spiritual life is found inside the heart of the wild. I do not fear it, I court it. When I am away, I anticipate my return, needing to touch stone, rock, water, the trunks of trees, the sway of grasses, the barbs of a feather, the fur left behind by a shedding bison.
Creating a personal myth is a fundamental way we find meaning. We are always the protagonist, with supporting characters providing love and assistance and antagonists posing challenges that push us beyond our comfort zones. Rather than narcissism or navel-gazing, the more intimate we become with our own story, the more we realize that everyone has an equally valid and vital narrative in which they are the central character. Understanding that everyone is on their own story journey can help us establish connection and empathy.
Kindness, conversely, glues couples together, making each partner feel cared for, understood, validated and loved. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, creating upward spirals of love and generosity.
Like birth, death is a transition we can wisely prepare for. In recent years, compassionate individuals and grassroots movements have emerged to help us conduct ourselves, heal and grow from losing a loved one or face our own passing. An increasing number of initiatives support a new model in palliative care that treats death not as a failure, but an expected aspect of the human experience. Each in its own way advocates for a grace-filled passage supported by dignified, caring and compassionate practices.
Attaining a consistent inner calm is possible by learning to be more interested in and attentive to the conscious awareness that is calmly observing what’s going on in our thinking, emotions, bodily sensations and life. We can live permanently engaged with this awareness and the inner dominion it contains instead of being helplessly caught up in the content of our own or others’ thinking or emotion, which are often conditioned by the world to be more negative than positive.
Lyric Benson Fergusson Where your mind wavers, your heart overcomes. Your heart can tame any monster, your heart can devour any fear.
True love is not something reserved exclusively for soulmates, couples, children, friends or family. Observations by sages for millennia and by enlightened scientists more recently are increasingly aligned with the point of view articulated by renowned meditation teacher Jack Kornfield that true love and awareness—a sense of universal connectivity and the idea that divinity, or the sacred, is found in all things—are indistinguishable.