Saturday, July 30, 2011

Let the River Flow

One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Pema Chödrön, writes about paying attention to the mundane and learning through patient indwelling with the everyday to honor it. Needless to say, I have a long ways to go before I can claim that wisdom as my own.

In many ways, when I think back to my earlier years, I can remember a time when I was much more present everyday than I have been for many years. As I reflect, I occasionally wonder if that memory is the truth or if I have romanticized who I used to be.

One major difference between then and now is that I was less busy with outside demands on my time. I went to school or I went to work, and then I came home to activities of my choosing, and I didn't have the many activities built on relationships and obligations that I have had for the last 30+ years. Being in a marriage, having children, relating to employees for whom you're responsible will do that to you. You get sucked in, absorbed, entwined.

I'm not saying that being involved with others and in their lives doesn't have its immense rewards and joys. It does. It is, in fact, a privilege to be invited in and to be allowed to share in others' walks, celebrations and dramas. It adds to the depth of experience and character that some of us take the opportunity to notice, reflect upon and build. Likewise, it can add stress and overwhelm and cause anxiety, resentment or even breakdowns. And, in either case, it takes time, a whole lot of time.

I'm in the second and final term of serving on The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado's Standing Committee, and after General Convention next July, I will enter the second triennium of my six-year term on the church's Executive Council. I'm also serving my second term as a member of Colorado's General Convention deputation. I've been thinking about my church service as a leader and thinking about topics like retirement, term limits and raising up the next generation of leaders.

It's clear to me that intentionality in everything we do is very important and that busy people who are in the midst of doing important things seemingly all the time sometimes lose sight of their intentionality. I fear that more, I think, than I fear anything else. Other words used to describe this might be losing sight of our mission or purpose, or forgetting why we got involved in the first place.

I believe that there is a call for observing self-imposed limits that many leaders in all bastions of leadership have forgotten or maybe never recognized or understood. When leaders egregiously lead poorly or vilely, their followers will take them down through complaints, protests, voting them out or overthrowing them with revolution. But most leaders are of the garden variety who are neither superstars nor villains as leaders, and most, if I may generalize, have left their humility and sense of self-limits somewhere in the past, foundering and misplaced in their early days.

My intent is to carve out more time in my weeks for quiet contemplation and Zen meditation. I know that I need to get back in touch with the mundane so that I can experience again the profound beauty and connectedness of nature and the interstices of the web that weaves the people of today and the generations before and after today together. When I stretch out my consciousness, I want to touch the stream of life that flows in every direction and take the time to follow some of those flows to places that are new to me and to grow into and as a result of experiencing those rivers of consciousness.


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