Stopped

Being stopped isn’t bad. It’s just stopping for many reasons some of which may be really bad. Let’s separate being stopped from the reasons we are stopped. Maybe we can then have a more reasonable time of it.

Phrases posted on Facebook, April 2020

In these days of having to be sequestered as best we can, we have much to embrace with compassion. The suffering of so many is all around us. To send out love, peace and help in whatever ways are open to us is the first order of business. A second order, if we have the guts for it, is to find out what upsets us personally about being stopped. When I think about that I can sense a growing restlessness. What’s that about? Is it that I can’t really help? Is it that I have an imperative to accomplish something and I can’t. Who is demanding that? That fears, ambitions, entitlement or willfulness lie under our imperatives is scary to uncover. For me words should and have to are very suspicious.
What to do when we are stopped, when we can’t see past the next minute of time? I can’t think of a better answer than what Sarah said in scene 11 to Job in Archibald MacLeish’s play, J.B. “Blow on the coal of the heart. Blow on the coal of the heart and we’ll know.”
We can be stopped by something big from the outside as we are now. We can see what it is, experience it and hopefully in time find ways to work with it. We can also be stopped by inner fears and unknown difficulties. A good way to deal with those inhibitors is not to beat up on them, but to be curious about them, be interest in them with no baseball bat in our hands.
Before we fully know what stopped us, we can say thank you. Horrible as some situation might be there is yet a gift in them. Keeping an eye out for the gift will strengthen us to deal with what we have to.
We are such a doing culture and with so many of us sequestered at home we are invited to embrace being. Be aware. Be careful. Be safe. Be grateful. Be loved. It’s amazing how much being is resisted in favor of distractions of every king. But it is also amazing how much being heals and furthers.
In some Zen practices one dedicates some activity for the sake of someone else. For instance, one might walk for those in wheelchairs keeping them in mind with every step. If we are now lucky enough to be safe, if we have enough to get by, if we have health, could we dedicate all of that for the sake of those who do not have the same? That way we can be in solidarity with the suffering around us.
To be stopped can be to find a sacred place close to the awe and ache of what is. It’s then we can shine our light. Here’s Anne Lamott’s wonderful quote: Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.
Someone dear to me is shopping for me since I am now elderly by some decree agreed upon by others. I pick up a pen to make a shopping list and I’m stopped. How many go hungry today? How many are choosing between meds and a meal? How many are feeding their kids and skipping their supper? Sharing along with voluntary simplicity must become the way forward. Stopping now, my shopping list just became smaller. Perhaps we can all skip some meals and so be able to contribute to a local food bank.
The most wonderful way to be stopped is to be stopped by beauty. We need it so much now, and it is hard to still see it. But we can if we stop and notice, for instance, the branch by the window and how the leaves on the branch look like little, fat green fruits that will soon ripen. We need to stop to feel how we, too, can leaf out in verdant hope and trust in life.
So many people have remarked on how clean the air feels to them without so many cars on the road and also how precious and life-giving being in nature now feels. We have stopped some measure of pollution. We can be stopped in our tracks by many things, but loss of our planets health should not be one of them.
Many of us are stopped by an idea of who we should be and the idea does not fit the way shoes that are the wrong size can’t ever fit no matter how we try to squeeze ourselves into them. Here’s advice from Martin Shaw: Call out to the whole divine night for what you love. What you stand for. Earn your name. Be kind, and wild, and disciplined and absolutely generous.
Over and over what stops me and takes my breath away is the courage of doctors, nurses and first responders putting themselves on the lone. There are hundreds and hundreds of unsung heroes and heroines. THEY ARE BREATHTAKING.