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Inner Work for Preparation

It is good to be home! I hope that all of you are well and that if you have trees, they were not damaged by the snow. I return to you relaxed and full of ideas from the mindfulness training I did during my month of sabbatical time. As mindfulness has expanded in my own life, I wonder how mindfulness might support us as individuals and as a congregation.


Before the last presidential election, four years ago this September, I participated in a Black Lives Matter march from Prescott College to the sidewalk around the County Courthouse Square. As we neared the square, we became aware of the many people carrying automatic rifles. Some of the people gathering spit on us and told us to go home. The organizers asked Pastor Efraín Zafala and me to walk at the front of the line because they didn’t think that the protestors were shooting clergy. A video of that march went viral on social media. Later, I had a long talk with Chief Black, the police chief of Prescott City. During the time leading up to the election, we could almost hear that “tick, tick, tick” that you hear on a roller coaster when it is climbing towards the highest point that will be followed by the frightening descent. The fear was palpable.


Now we are heading into another election year. Living in Yavapai County, we will be seeing more and more flags waving on trucks adorned with disturbing signs. Sometimes seeing an offensive sign at the wrong moment has the power to ruin my day. When I see something negative, I feel like the adage about cockroaches must apply: if you see one, there are forty hiding. One sign can make me feel discouraged and outnumbered and my energy level lowers as my fear rises. What do we do? Some neighbors talk of moving to another country. After spending twenty-four years in another country, Mary Lou and I intend to stay. I believe that mindfulness can prepare us for encounters up the road.


Do you have an anchor? Is there something, an image or a practice, that you turn to when times are difficult? One anchor is our breath. While you are reading this, I encourage you to take a breath in and feel that process of breathing in and out. This connection with breath, this anchor is where I go when times are difficult. Establishing this anchor with daily practice gives us the grounding that we need to live in this world. If you have your own practice, keep it up! If you want a practice, I encourage you to look up the websites of Jack Kornfeld and Tara Brach. They offer many meditations for free. This practice gives us a way to keep grounded when the world goes crazy around us. And, by staying grounded, we can live out our values. Have you noticed how your values can fly out the window when you “react” to the world?


If you would like to participate in a mindfulness group, there are teachers among us. And there is so much that is online. This is a way to be who we want to be when times are tough. I look forward to talking with you about my experiences of the past month. Please let me know if you’d like to talk. I’d love to sit with you in my office or take a walk together around our Courthouse Square.


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