Loving Kindness Every Day
I think we all have an aspiration to be kind. I do. And I am keenly aware that I don’t always live up to it, and feel disappointed when I don’t, especially during this season when we sing carols about joy to the world and peace to all. Loving kindness is in the air.
And as I look to the coming New Year, it occurs to me there is a reason we make resolutions. It’s a chance to start again and do our best to live up to our deepest aspirations for ourselves.
We notice how we could have done better there, and maybe that was a bit questionable — so we renew our intentions, our aspirations, and we commit to make stronger efforts to live the live we truly want to live.
Joan Baez once said:
“You don’t get to choose when and how you die, but you do get to choose how you live now.”
This simple point always gets me.
And from the early teachers of Judaism as recorded in the Talmud:
“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now. Love mercy now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, nor are you free to abandon it.”
(Chicken-skin moment for me -goosebumps if you’re not from Hawai’i).
The path is just about how we choose to live now.
Last week at work someone I know with kids asked me “You all ready for Christmas?”
I took a moment and replied, “ Well, we try to keep it simple.”
I received the reply I see now I justly deserved — “Humble-brag, eh?
I didn’t know what to say. Luckily something came up and the conversation was over.
I did take to the internet later and found out, from the Urban Dictionary, that a “humble-brag” is defined as “When you, usually consciously, try to get away with bragging about yourself by couching it in a phony show of humility.”
The Urban Dictionary goes on to give an example:
“Your inflatable inner-tube is way cooler than my 80-foot yacht. You get to be so much closer to the water and to nature. I envy you.”
To which one response would be:
“Thanks, that means a lot. Another advantage of having an inner-tube is that I don’t have to humble-brag all the time about having a yacht.”
So I was humble bragging that we have a “simpler” Christmas. Ugh.
For me the practice is all about moments like these, when we see, or are shown, our weaknesses, our follies, and simply renew our aspirations and re-new our efforts toward loving kindness.
We can make New Year’s resolutions every day, every moment.
From the anonymous English monk who penned the wonderful spiritual classic The Cloud of Unknowing in the late 14th century:
“In itself, humility is nothing more than the true knowledge and awareness of oneself as one truly is.”
Humble-brag and all.
We need to renew our commitment to loving kindness every day. And to do this well, we need to be alert and awake to what is going on inside us as continuously as we can, so if we notice we are getting irritated at something or some0ne, we can warn ourselves so we don’t trip ourselves up again.
Our wonderful meditation practice allows us to cultivate this capacity to be alert and awake to our deepest aspirations for ourselves and to also see how we sometime stray. With practice we can make nearly effortless, daily little mid-course corrections.
Anthony de Mello reminds us that:
“Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. You know — all mystics — Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion — are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox, to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare.”
We wake up in each moment we are mindful of this wondrous, unrepeatable, precious life we are given.
May our practice of loving kindness continue to grow and mature today, and every day.
Comments are always welcome … and please share.
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