Monday, October 12, 2009

A simply wonderful day!

Sunday was a wonderful day, full of fascinating activities and people, some of whom are pictured here: Ruth Sharone, Ralph Fertig, Chris Chapple, Arin Ghosh, Sarah Shahawy, Joseph Prabhu and Varun Soni (dean of Religious Life at USC). These were some of the participants in the "Gandhi Remixed" event that took place at USC.

Today was also a wonderful day, spent quietly writing up a talk about simplicity that I am supposed to give at a breakfast meeting of the "Mastery Circle" tomorrow morning.

As I reflected over the past two days, I came to realize that every day has seemed wonderful to me since Kathleen and went on our cancer journey together.

By "wonderful" I mean "not boring," not "business as usual," but full of surprises and new learnings. When I read what some people write in Facebook, I am struck by how resigned some people are to the humdrum. "I just got back from a trip to Milwaukee. Whew! Am I tired." Or "Just put the baby to bed. Thank goodness." Sometimes these comments are meant to be funny, like my sister writing: "I'm pondering the meaning of life." Ten minutes later, she wrote: "Still pondering."

Well, I must confess that as I ponder life, what strikes me is not its meaningfulness, but its wonderfulness. When I re-read my wife's cancer journal, as I do from time to time, I realize how much she appreciated our everyday activities, whether it was going to a museum or talking to our nephew on the phone or just feeling strong enough to walk around the block. To her, it was all good. It was all wonderful. It was all worth thanking God for.

Sunday truly was definitely worth thanking God for. It began with my clerking a meeting of the pastoral care committee, which consists of two dear Friends, Louie and David. We looked over the membership list of our Meeting and tried to discern how to reach out to Friends who have moved away and are no longer active with our Meeting. I appreciated the care and thoughtfulness with which David and Louie approached this task which could seem mundane, but is really important, since it involves the spiritual life of our members. We then gave some consideration to a workshop proposals on "Healing, Caregiving and Grieving in the Light" that I am submitting to the FGC Gathering. Louie and David gave me lots of support and affirmation to this new leading, which I deeply appreciated.

Then I drove off to the University of California to help organize the Gandhi event we have been working towards since July. As volunteers began showing up, I helped Debra (our logistics chair) to guide people to jobs that needed to be done. We worked together beautifully and soon the area in front of Taper Hall was filled with lovely displays, literature tables, a weaving project, the Bhajan band playing Indian music, and other signs of Spirit at work and play.

The program came togther nicely. Around a hundred people showed up--not as many as we hoped, but a respectable number that half filled the hall.

The speakers were excellent. Chris Chapple, one of the foremost experts on Buddhism and the environment, made the connection with our excess consumerism and Buddhist principles of non-attachment. Joseph Prabhu, a leading expert on Gandhi, also did a fine job of making Gandhian ideas relevant to our times. Finally, Ralph Fertig, a contemporary of Martin Luther King and former Freedom Rider, told of his days as a Civil Rights lawyer and also how he was beaten up by angry whites. "Gandhi told us we must love our enemies," said Fertig with disarming honesty that made us all laugh. "But I didn't love the bigots who beat me up. What I loved was justice."

The young speakers were stellar. Sarah spoke with eloquence and conviction about how her Muslim upbringing has taught her to abhor war and to cherish justice and non-violence. Arin Ghosh spoke with wit and passion about Gandhi from a Vedantist perspective.

There was a spirited q and a period, followed by workshops. The workshops went very well since we had scheduled only eleven of them and so most workshops had between 6 and 12 people--an ideal number for indepth discussion.

The closing ceremony turned into a joyous dance when Nobuko teamed up the didgeridoo player and the drummer to get us out of our chairs and rocking in the aisles.

Yes, it was an extraordinary day, and an extraordinary evening as well. After our event, we went to a concert by Nishad Khah, one of the best sitarists in the world. I have heard live sitar before, but never like this. He played with such virtuosity and passion that even words like "dazzling" and "electrifying" seem inadequate. You can get a sample of his music at but you have to hear him live to get a sense of the magic in his performances.

Wonderful as Sunday was, I found today just as wonderful. I went to Chi Kong class and did some errands. Then I sat at my computer and meditated on the Simplicity Testimony. I will share what wonders I discovered on another day. Suffice to say, when you are working for the Lord, every day is simply wonderful.

Thank you for this day, O Lord, thank you for this day, this healing, this healing, this healing day!

The digeridoo and drums made the audience get up and DANCE! A happy ending to our "Gandhi Remixed " event.....

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