Gratitude for all the voices of wisdom
November 25, 2009
This is a time when I once again must borrow from others as the island I am drifting on moves to and fro.
"Let there be for every pulse a thanksgiving and for every breath a song."
I don't know who said it but I receive it in an email from a most interesting person and kindred spirit, Padraic "Paddy" Mullin. You may recall his great 'Grumpy Gramps' carrot adventure at Lindy's which we published as a guest column complete with photos a couple of months back. Though he lives in Sterling Heights, he became a loyal reader after we printed his uplifting piece.
A retired graphic artist, Paddy says his purpose is to create meaningful memories with those he loves. We've never met face to face, but I can tell that he fulfills his purpose.
In fact, it is in fulfilling the purpose that we connect over the telephone last week. I'd been out of touch and out sick; just plain "out." He calls at a time when I need all kind, kindred spirits to remind me of what's right with the universe—and with me. To help lift the veil of darkness, the ashes of destruction, the chaos of a disordered mind.
Paddy is among several people I hear from "out of the blue," though I know there's more to it than that.
In the phone conversation, he asks how I've been—wonders if he offended me somehow, if I was okay. In this conversation, and others and emails, I feel a kindred spirit. Anyone who would plant a carrot seed with his grandson and document the entire process with candor and good humor is a thoughtful person. One who's only desire now is to make memories with his wife, kids and grandkids is enlightened as far as I'm concerned.
I tell him his call could not have come at a better time and I sense somehow he knows it.
He says "may I ask you a bold question?"
"Sure," I say.
"What is your religious persuasion?"
Wow, that's not so bold. Actually it's something I really need to think about and practice like I used to. "Well of course you know I was raised Catholic, so that is intertwined in all that I am," I answer. "I've studied many religions, and my latest inclination was toward Buddhism.
"I was active in a Buddhist study group until I let that fall by the wayside in the midst of all my troubles."
Paddy says, "Do you know Thomas Merton?"
"I have many of his books," I say. We both chuckle. Neither of us are surprised.
For those who may not be familiar with Thomas Merton, (Jan, 1915-Dec., 1968), here is a brief bio from Wikipedia:
(Merton) was a 20th century American Catholic writer. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist and student of comparative religion. He wrote more than 70 books, mostly on spirituality, as well as scores of essays and reviews. Merton was a keen proponent of interfaith understanding. He pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama, D.T. Suzuki, the Japanese writer on the Zen tradition, and the Vietnamese (Buddhist) monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Merton is the subject of several biographies.
I'll let Thomas Merton speak the rest of this space to remind me—and anyone else who cares to ponder his wisdom on this Thanksgiving holiday:
"We stumble and fall constantly even when we are most enlightened. But when we are in true spiritual darkness, we do not even know that we have fallen."
"To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell."
"The first step toward finding God, Who is Truth, is to discover the truth about myself: and if I have been in error, this first step to truth is the discovery of my error."
"We have what we seek, it is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us."
Finally, here's a thought from Thich Nhat Hanh:
"People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child —our own two eyes. All is a miracle."
In deepest gratitude for all the miracles I've been receiving, Happy Thanksgiving.
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Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.