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New Year's Resolutions and Embracing the Light

The Love Religion

The inner space inside

that we call the heart

has become many different living scenes and stories.

 

A pasture for sleek gazelles,

a monastery for Christian monks,

a temple with Shiva dancing,

a kaaba for pilgrimage.

 

The tables of Moses are there,

the Qur’an, the Vedas,

the sutras, and the gospels.

 

Love is the religion in me.

Whichever way love’s camel goes,

that way becomes my faith,

the source of beauty, and a light

of sacredness over everything.

-Ibn Arabi

It’s going to be a brand New Year in just a short while.  In keeping with that theme, I found a great idea on the Brightside Blog. The article suggests looking over the last year and making an I-did-it list, instead of the usual I’m-going-to-do-it resolutions.

This strikes me as a great start, though my husband would probably say it’s rather akin to my need to write something on my to-do list even if I’ve already done it – just for the sheer pleasure of crossing it off. But hey! Is that so wrong?

In thinking about things I’d done and accomplished, I started thinking about my nearly finished e-book. I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to have to be on the resolutions for 2011 list…though it almost squeaked onto the I-did-it list…

It got me thinking about the name of my blog, and this infamous soon-to-be-published ebook, both of which will be called Traveling Light. It seems I picked the name without realizing all the layers of meaning.

I had several things in mind when I chose that name;

One, that I like the idea of traveling with as little stuff as possible while still having plenty of wearable clothes. I had embarked on this game plan long before the airline’s started charging for every extra piece, which has only helped reinforce my philosophy.

Two, it reflects my wish to learn to travel through life a little less encumbered with my emotional and mental baggage. My goal is to examine my thoughts, let go of what doesn’t work, and really focus on what does.

Three, I want to focus on not taking up too much of the world’s resources, whether at home or away. This can translate to something as small as bringing my own refillable water bottle, recycling whenever it’s available and reducing my consumption to hopefully coincide with what I need over what I want.

Fourth, and most importantly, I hoped to remember to travel lightly in how I interacted with new cultures and situations. My goal was to be open to new ways of viewing the world, to keep challenging myself to let go of how I think it should be, versus the reality of what it is.  

But this morning, as I read from A Year with Rumi – Daily Readings, I came across the poem I’ve added above, and instantly loved the idea of “a light of sacredness over everything”.

It occurred to me that there was a fourth meaning that I hadn’t realized…that perhaps the light is traveling with us; a traveling light that imbues our world wherever we are. It is our choice to travel in light or to remain in our own self-created darkness.

For me, that traveling light includes choosing to extend kindness and compassion as much as possible and, within the glow of that light, I also want to include myself as a recipient of that kind of love.

In every religion we will find some version of the Biblical verse” Love thy neighbour as thyself.” Throughout our history the greatest minds have understood that we can’t inwardly hate and chastise ourselves and somehow expect to be able to love others. We have to start with our own little microcosm of humanity; ourselves.

If I’m going to love myself, I have to do for me what I’d suggest for a friend. That is, to take the time for a walk, have a hot bath with candles and maybe a wonderful cup of tea, or to massage lotion not only into the hands but also over the entire body, the way you’d care for a baby.

In other words, I am seeing this as a reminder to be caring and kind toward this physical body that has carried me – in spite of my usual neglect – for over fifty years. Surely I want it to continue? Doesn’t it then make sense to treat myself well?

I believe that physical kindness will help to advance emotional kindnesses as well. I think about Gabor Mate’s book, When the Body Says No, where Dr. Mate so eloquently says that the only time you can separate the body and mind…is at autopsy.

We’ve created this silly split between the physical and the mental – when in fact – the two are completely inseparable.

I’m realizing that if I practice physical kindness toward myself, it helps to create a gentler atmosphere within, creating the space where I can also practice being more forgiving toward myself.

So this is what I see as my New Year’s resolutions…to fully embrace what Traveling Light means;

To be very judicious as to what I put in my baggage; both on a practical as well as a metaphorical level,  to walk upon the world with as light a step as possible, to put in my bag only what is necessary and beautiful, to realize that everything is energy, whether it’s a tree, a stone, love or the alphabet. 

Matter, as Einstein explained, doesn’t really exist. So, if Love is Light and Light is Love. Embrace the light. Embrace it all.

Galway Kinnell’s poem “Prayer” says it best.

Whatever happens. Whatever

what is is is what

I want. Only that. But that.