Monday, December 08, 2008

The Geography Of The Heart

I woke up from a deep sleep this morning with the unpleasant realization that I had to leave my bed and go to work. Once out of the bed I was fine and I proceeded to the office. All day long I was tired and sore. It took me a while to realize why I was sore. Over the weekend I gave a co-worker a bed I no longer needed. They came to my house on Saturday to pick it up and I helped her husband carry the mattress and box springs out to his truck. I'm still not totally recovered from my surgery so I probably shouldn't have done it and I also do so little manual labor that I am terribly out of shape.

I had my final visit with my surgeon today. Being tired and sore and a little bored at work I was happy to leave the office early even if it was for a doctor's appointment. I got to the doctor's office a little early and was happy to sit quietly in the warm waiting room. I was in a slight daze when the receptionist called me to the window. "Mr. Brown, I need you to sign this form concerning your colonoscopy". Colonoscopy??? Excuse me??? I'm here for a surgical follow up. I'm not here for any colonoscopy! Wow, that was a close call. I've had enough of those in my life. Heck, sometimes life itself feels like a colonoscopy!

Today's Tao reading is as follows......

Why yearn for a promised land? The true land is in the heart.

The commentary for this reading mainly discusses those people in the world who have been separated from their places of birth by war, economics, abduction, lack of work, and many other reasons. The land we call home has a strong pull on us. I always remember Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz story saying, "There's no place like home"! I am not a great world traveler but anytime I have left my home, it was always good to return to it. In the monastic life there is a term that refers to a monk's love for his monastery, a physical place where he has promised to remain for his entire life. The term is "Lover's of the Place". A friend of mine who passed away several years ago, Abbot Francis Kline of Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina, wrote a small book using this phrase as his title. Although we may have a strong pull or longing for a particular piece of physical geography, I believe there is a deeper pull and longing for something beyond geography. Most of my life I have felt a sense of longing for something I can not even identify. At times I have felt like an exile. In spite of much introspection I can never seem to identify why I have these feelings of longing and desire or the emptiness they expose. I am in the land of my birth so I am not yearning for any physical homeland. I am already there. What am I longing for? What am I looking for to fill the emptiness and satisfy the longing? Is the longing a human need for love and affection or a call into a deeper experience on a more spiritual level? I don't know. I do not think my experience is unique. I believe it is a common experience and perhaps part of most people's human journey through life. One thought I did have over the weekend is that when I feel these feelings I am sometimes spending too much time thinking of myself and my needs. The less I think about me, the less I feel unhappy. If the true "promised land" is the heart, I should open my heart more to others and spend less time thinking about myself.

Today's newspaper reminded me that John Lennon was murdered in New York City 28 years ago today. It still makes me sad to think that John and George Harrison are both dead. Their music, with the Beatles and as individuals, will always keep their memory alive with me.

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