I'm just back from the wonderful Buddhafield festival
where I spent five hours attending meetings inside the Twelve Steps Tent. The meetings were made up of ordinary people from lots of different fellowships (Alcoholics Anonymous, Codependents Anonymous etc.) from all walks of life. We all had one thing in common.
We understood that a good life takes hard work.
The honesty inside that tent was breathtaking. People shared about how their compulsions were playing out at the festival. They acknowledged their failures, frustration and confusion. They showed us their grief, disappointment, anger and terror. They also shared their experience, strength and hope.
People in recovery know that being honest with ourselves and with others isn't a luxury. Continually facing up to our darkness and bringing it into the light keeps us alive, in both senses of the word. It means that we don't literally kill ourselves by falling into our compulsions, and it also means we can be awake and responsive and grateful for all that life brings us, both the lovely and the not-so-lovely.
By the end of each meeting, there was a golden aura surrounding us. When we bumped into each other as we walked around the sunny festival site, we knew each other to be brothers and sisters.
Another golden aura grew in the team I was part of, the Dharma Parlour, made up of Buddhist teachers from different traditions. We listened to each other, shared our experiences of the Dharma, and formed bonds that will not break. We came home brothers and sisters.
Just like each of us are.
Living a good life takes hard work. But we can be supported in this work by our sangha, whoever these people are - our friends, family, work colleagues, neighbours. We can be supported by the dharma, the wisdom of those around us and before us - wherever we find it. And we can be supported by something much bigger than any of that, however we conceptualise it - the Buddha, the universe, humanity, the ineffable, grace.
Go gently this week. Life is hard, but it works if you work it. Life is wonderful. It has so much to offer us - you can't even imagine. _/\_
"I am gradually learning that the call to gratitude asks us to say, "Everything is grace." As long as we remain resentful about things we wish had not happened, about relationships that we wish had turned out differently, mistakes we wish we had not made, part of our heart remains isolated, unable to bear fruit in the new life ahead of us. It is a way we hold part of ourselves apart from God." ~ Henri Nouwen, from 'Turning My Mourning into Dancing'.
You can hear me talking more about community and how we can build it at our local Buddhist service last night, here
We're only running one course during August, especially for people who want to learn how to relax & moodle & be creative. Sign up here: Mindful Writing Moodle.
Image by Hawaiian Sea