by Special Guest, Rev. Masando Hiraoka
I’m not gonna lie: I’m starting to hit a bit of a wall in all this sheltering-in-place business. I’m finding myself getting more irritable with others, more tired of the daily routine of staring at a screen all day, and more fatigued by the constant presence of the unknown. My wife Rebecca and I set up our corn hole set in our front yard yesterday, and I realized how much I’m missing social things like going to the park, hanging out with friends, frequenting my favorite new brewery, and just spending quality time with other human beings without looking at a screen. I kid you not, last Wednesday, I spent 12 hours straight on zoom in a combination of work meetings and catching up with friends and family. When I was done, it felt like my brain had turned to complete mush. Since then, I think I’ve been experiencing a bit of “zoom fatigue” (this must be a thing now) even opting to go with an old-fashioned phone call for many meetings to allow myself to walk outside and give my eyes and mind a break from staring at a screen all day.
There’s been this realization happening each day that I need to make room in my life for the myriad of these all-too-human reactions. I need to make room for the frustration that comes up, the yearning that comes up, the wishing that comes up. I also need to make room for the tiredness and fatigue, for the feelings of helplessness, and for the grief that arises with all of the loss we are experiencing in the world.
When I resist these emotions and these reactions, they can tend to stir and perpetuate themselves, and eventually grab ahold of me. Yet when I make room for them all, and just allow them to rise, do their thing, then fall away, life begins to feel a little more open again. A hint of the sacred begins to make its way through. I can treat it all with curiosity and wonder to hopefully, eventually laugh at myself along the way. It reminds me of this poem, by the Muslim Mystic, Jellaludin Rumi:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
The kind laughter that comes when I am able to just look at myself and all my reactions reminds me of the kind of laughter that mothers often exude when their children are having a tantrum. With a mother, and the deep love they have for their children, it’s not coming form a place of malice or poking fun. It feels always just to be a “that is just so precious” kind of observation of their children. On this Mother’s Day week, I feel like we need this kind of motherly energy. There are going to be reactions within ourselves and reactions from others to this pandemic that is going to stir all sorts of toddler-like behavior. We may feel the need to throw a tantrum or blame others who are doing the same thing in their own way. But the mother in all of us can observe it all, can hold it all with love, and even take delight in the whole experience so that those tantrums don’t get the best of us.
In embracing that motherly approach, we can also find within us a place where we can care for bringing newness into our lives in small and profound ways. We can grow something within by allowing some inner wisdom to take hold in our lives. We can not only make room for it all, we can make womb for something new.
These days, I am making womb for a newfound love of gardening, for a continual taking care of seedlings, for noticing every day how a small plant can grow and eventually produce food and life in the world. I’m making womb for finding ways to serve in the community that are still safe, allowing the connections that I’ve built with other faith leaders and community organizers and change-makers to invigorate me and inspire me. I’m making womb for a kind of ministry that does not rely on a building in order to make an impact.
And I think most of all, I’m making womb for a version of myself to emerge that is a little bit more light-hearted, a touch more courageous, and ultimately more resilient and full of hope.
I’m sending love to my mom this week, who has always had hope for me, despite myself. I’m feeling grateful for all of the moms out there who have, at some point, looked at their kiddos with kind eyes in the midst of a meltdown. And because I can’t go to a brewery right now, I’m raising a glass right here, in my home, to the motherly spirit in us all. May we take delight in our shared human reactions with an “isn’t that precious” kind of heart, may we never give up hope on ourselves and those around us, and may we find ways to make womb for all that is seeking to make its way into our experience as something new.
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone. Looking forward to being with you this Sunday – online at BOSQUECSL.ORG, on Facebook, and on Vimeo.
© 2020 Masando Mike Hiraoka