Consecutive Days Riding: 46 Consecutive Days Blogging: 47
Today’s Mileage: 11 Total Trip Mileage: 397
Holidays and Holy Days on November 25:
Beginning of Hajj – Islamic pilgrimage rites at Mecca. One of the five pillars of Islamic faith states that all Muslims should try to make at least one Hajj pilgrimage during their lifetime.
As I ride the bike today I think back over my last few postings. They’ve been positive and upbeat. I’ve stood in admiration of the beauty along my path, the healing power of water, the treasures and memories we find as we walk along our daily beach. I am clearly an optimistic person. I turn terrible storms into nature mystical experiences, I see in the leaf clutter and bare trees of fall the renewing cycles of life knowing that what follows will be winter’s blankets and then spring time with bursts of color and new life. I make a choice to be an optimist, to find hope in the process of death and decay, in the pain and suffering of family, friends and strangers. I make a choice to see in these difficult and tragic situations, not roadblocks but challenges and hurdles that can be overcome, that can lead to growth.
I have at times plodded along only to look up and see an imposing peak in my way. Why does it have to be so difficult, I ask? I’ve learned not to give up, not to swear at the peak in anger but to take a deep breath and start the climb. Attending to my footing, I glance up often enough to recognize the less treacherous way. I will make it to that peak, tired but stronger with a new perspective. I choose to leave markers at points on the path (artwork, poems, and Blog postings) for other travelers. These markers might provide encouragement for others on the path. At times I might even toss out a rope or reach down with an out stretched hand to help others take those last few steps. We might share a sip of water, a hug or a meal before we part again, each on a personal journey, holding the other in our prayers. These travelers may be a stranger in a chance encounter at a book store or church, a student who is part of your life for a semester, a client you helped through a difficult time, or a faceless visitor to your blog who leaves no comment but carries away seeds to plant on their journey.
But I digress; being an optimist is not an easy choice! It’s not easy to find a silver lining in a story about a five year old murdered rape victim sold by her mother to the abuser or when you speak with PTSD veterans and hear of the horrors visited upon them and that they inflicted upon others. It’s not easy when you watch as friends and family members drink themselves to a speedy death, trying to avoid their pain or when you sit with a pedophile, hear their story and still see him as a human being. There is no silver lining in these tragic lives. The valuable lesson is in the consequences of our small, bad decisions that build into tragedies that destroy lives.
Yesterday I interacted with a friend, someone whose religious (Islamic), cultural (Southwest Asian) and urban background is strikingly different from my own. Someone whose opinions I value. His views carry as much truth as those who are suspicious of him for his skin color, his faith, his nation of origin and his foreign sounding name. The difference between us in this time and place is not about our roots but about his anger. We can dwell on the injustice and intolerance of others when we find ourselves in the minority. We can make ourselves angry, or we can step back and see the larger process. Dichotomous thinking like “us versus them” only begets such thinking in others. If you believe that everyone has taken sides “for or against” you, you leave these “others” no choice but to take sides. If you prepare for battle, so will they! The error is in the process that we follow and fail to recognize as a choice. Whether Christian, Muslim or Jew, when we create an outlook of “us and them”, saved and unsaved, infidel and believer we have become part of the problem and not the solution.
As I stressed to my friend, this optimistic process approach is not an easy choice to embrace and live. I have been told that I am naïve, that I am a dreamer, that I have no beliefs, that I have no principles. I disagree! Let me use the Chinese symbol of the Yin and Yang as an illustration. Does the balance we all strive for reside in the center of the light or the center of the dark? Should we fight over who is in the position of right and wrong, of light and dark? For both positions stand in stark opposition and both positions spin and twirl. Does the point of balance not reside in the very center of the symbol, at that place where you stand still as the world revolves about you, a point of centeredness and clarity? I choose to look for that middle ground, that point at which I stop spinning, when I close my eyes and feel the solid center of the divine under my feet. I choose to do it with a smile as I walk through flower gardens, as I float in peaceful waters, as I plant seeds in my students and sons, as I reach out to offer comfort to those in pain. What do you choose?
A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside. The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.