and a total catastrophe.”
I took a dive-down this week into some swirling despair, as I read about Kakuma, the refugee camp in Kenya. The largest in the world, it houses 186,000 multi-national refugees, most of whom will never leave it. A growing angst swept over me, as I considered what seems to be our country’s systematic dismantling of asylum. My grandparents left the dangers of anti-Semitic Russia and made their way to this country to begin again, in the early 20th century. The doors were open to them and they created lives for themselves and for their children here, right here, in America.
Who are we if we are not that?
After maintaining my spirits for months in the face of grim and grimmer daily news, I lost balance this week; I felt an aching anguish for the suffering in our world and a confused heaviness about my privileged life in the midst of it.
During this past eighteen months, I have pondered and pondered again the concept of spiritual activism. At a time of such unraveling of core cultural values, how can we now be part of the rebuilding, the moral solution?
What does yoga teach us about interfacing with the suffering in the world?
How can spirituality support us during this time of sheer meanness of spirit?
I then remembered this remarkable four-minute video by Michael Stone, posted last year in one of my June blogs. After watching the video again today, I want to offer it to us anew.
Michael Stone, beloved teacher of Buddhism and yoga that brilliantly integrates social justice and ecological issues, was a beacon of light and love. He passed away on July 16, 2017, at the age of 42, just a year ago. Michael had tragically consumed an unknown street drug laced with fentanyl, trying to relieve the suffering brought on by his bipolar disorder.
Made even more poignant by his loss, this video encourages us to consider non-attachment as engagement, as being present, as showing up for this “stunningly beautiful and total catastrophe” of a world, as Michael calls it.
If your heart is aching or not, if you feel hopeful or despairing, connected to others or horridly alone, please give Michael, on this, the anniversary of our losing him, a listen:
Oh, dear Michael, we receive your invitation into the intimacy of living our lives as they are. Your reminder that the world needs us as we are surely is exactly what my heart needs today. Thank you for continuing to teach me.
Dear Readers, what do you take away from this teaching? What might non-attachment mean for you today, just for today? What would it look like to be open today to things as they are? What do you need to say, to be intimate, to be present with yourself? Keep me posted. I am firstname.lastname@example.org.
With gratitude for community—
With gratitude for the ears,
The hearts of others—