Caring for One Another

Today we celebrate an Inauguration as well as the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., so it is a day when Americans come together.

I continue to mine the book, Living Beautifully With Uncertainty and Change, by Pema Chödrön, for inspiration for my yoga classes, and thus chose as my theme - "committing to take care of one another," as we worked through a variety of partner poses and assists.

Caring for one another evokes compassion - a theme also evident in the events and speeches of the day. Still, it is not a simple thing for us to do, for as Pema notes:

"Compassion is threatening to the ego. We might think of it as something warm and soothing, but actually it's very raw. When we set out to support other beings, when we go so far as to stand in their shoes, when we aspire to never close down to anyone, we quickly find ourselves in the uncomfortable territory of 'life not on my terms.' The second commitment, traditionally known as the Bodhisattva Vow, or warrior vow, challenges us to dive into these non-cozy waters and swim out beyond our comfort zone."

She also makes these powerful observations:

"The commitment to take care of one another is often described as a vow to invite all sentient beings to be our guest. The prospect can be daunting. It means that everyone will be coming to our house. It means opening our door to everyone, not just to the people we like or the ones who smell good or the ones we consider 'proper' but to the violent ones and the confused ones - to people of all shapes...Making the second commitment means holding a diversity party in our living room, all day every day, until the end of time."

This is not by any means an easy task. But on a day like today, where we begin anew, and we celebrate the life of a man who contributed to so much change that many of us witnessed in our lifetimes - the chaos of the 60's, the Civil Rights Movement - and even though we still have much to accomplish - we cannot and will not do it unless we are willing to care for one another - without reservation - and with an openness of spirit and heart that permeates everything.

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