Catholic candles and Buddhist monasteries

Hello Dear One,

One thing I love about old Catholic Churches is that they always have a door open and candles to light.

The other day in the midst of my travels along the wild coast of Nova Scotia, I found a stone church just so, built by the Acadians 200 years ago. 

That day, I lit a candle for Alton.

Little did I know that the next day I would be back, lighting another for Philando.

Knowing that prayers are not enough, I do know they are necessary, at least for me.

I need to pause to make sure I'm feeling my grief, and feeling my anger, and feeling my fear, and not looking away or stuffing them down or turning them into something poisonous within me.

I need to ask for comfort and peace so that I can try to extend comfort and peace.

Later that same day I had the chance to visit Pema Chodron's monastery.

And when I say visit I mean driving forever down a winding road on what felt like the edge of the world--green highlands stretching up on one side and the sparkling blue sea extending out on the other--driving until it turned to gravel, and then driving some more until there were no more houses or anything or anyone else, except the seal who popped her head up and looked straight into my soul.

At Gampo Abbey the monks were gardening, the handful of cottages were tucked in and quiet with retreaters inside, and we walked along the hushed path through the pines.

Little shrines in tree stumps peaked out from around corners, and the mossy ground held a peacefulness, and also the energy of diligence--the dedication and persistence of many who have gone before, honing the skills needed, that we all need, to live with the most compassion we can muster.

At the end of the path there was a traditional Tibetan shrine to the enlightened Buddha possible in all of us, and a list of 50 slogans or teachings, most of which were difficult to interpret without a guide.

But a few were startlingly clear and jumped out at me, such as:

"Be grateful to everyone."

"Always maintain a joyful heart," and, 

"Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment."

These gave me pause and cracked open my heart after recent events.

Maybe they do for you, too.

Some of the questions prompted me to ask...

How can I really feel and honor my anger and grief AND maintain a joyful heart at the same time?

How can I be grateful for everything and everyone being teachers, mirrors and guides? 

As a white person, how can I listen more deeply than I ever have before to the feelings and stories and experiences of people of color?

How can I be more courageous and willing to have uncomfortable and vulnerable conversations, especially about things I don't understand?

And how can I stay devoted to what I know is healing--love, nourishment, beauty, wonder--while helping to create necessary change?

Maybe you're asking some important questions too.

I'd love to hear what they are, so please send them my way.

We're all in this together.

Big Love,
xo Liv

P.S. Even and especially in the midst of unspeakable tragedy and trauma, do not forget the magic of the world. Your family, your community, your world needs you to be the most present and full and human and you can be. For change to come we need all of our skills and gifts as listeners, healers, mothers, lovers, citizens and friends and we can only do this if we get the medicine we need, if we remember the ground we stand on, the magic of this thing called life. So yes, open your eyes and ears, protest and shout until your voice is hoarse, if you're white, listen harder than you've ever listened before. But come back to the beauty, come back to the magic--savor the food you eat, laugh like a child, let the sunset take your breath away. Let it fill you and heal you, let it be the thing that connects and holds us, so we can keep doing the work we all must do for justice.

P.P.S. In the midst of this summer's expansion, travel, heat and turmoil, I'm sending these {love notes}: brief notes from the field, reports from the realm of Away, from my own heart that longs to feel both held and free. As always, I'd love to hear how it's all feeling for you too, so just hit reply to this email. (You can also connect with me on Instagram where I'm sharing more reflections on an almost daily basis from my summer journeys of body and heart. www.instagram.com/liv.sulerud) xo