Saturday, April 17, 2010

Garden Simplicity

I don’t want to get all Martha Stewart on you guys, but I’m actually getting attached to the garden in my building. There is something about the color of the flowers and the texture of the leaves that instills in me an incredible amount of peace. It’s during these times that I regret not having a permanent place of my own where I could have my own personal garden.

I know next to nothing about gardening. The truth is that every plant I have ever had has suffered a slow, painful death under my care. There was the small potted plant on my desk in college that ended up in the garbage after 3 weeks. Another 3-4 plants died mysteriously when my folks left the country and left me in charge. And let’s not even get into the time I tried to grow spices in my apartment in NYC.
I never really understood the roots of my plant murder spree. Maybe I just wasn’t all that conscientious about watering them properly. Or maybe the cause is deeper. Maybe my plants died because I never really understood them.

After spending weeks walking by this garden I’ve noticed things that, while obvious to those who love plants and flowers, came as an absolute shock to me: plants are living, breathing, miracles of nature. Their growth and shape is determined by the contours of their surroundings. They react to sunlight, cold, warmth and rain. You can casually spot a flower bud in the morning and come home to see a beautiful fully-grown flower. Plants MOVE during the day.

Plants are ALIVE.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Reflections (7): I Am a Buddhist


Good Friday feels weird this year.

In years past, making an effort to embrace my Catholic faith during Holy Week was, more often than not, just sheer and utter drudgery. To be sure, there were times when I sincerely felt as if I could literally touch the purity and sanctity of my faith. But, for the most part, the annual pilgrimage to confess before Good Friday, the requisite attendance at mass and the focus on the pain and suffering of Jesus felt rather inauthentic. Empty even.

And then everything in my life changed. Suddenly, the ground below my feet was more solid. For the first time I knew who I was, who I wanted to be, and who I would never be again.

I also began to read. Passively at first. Later, I was gripped by a furious urge to understand that surprised even me. Eventually, it took embracing something outside of Catholicism for me to come to terms with my Catholic faith.


I am a Buddhist.

I write these words with a great deal of serenity and satisfaction. This glorious, ancient practice has helped to bring clarity to my heart in ways that I still cannot comprehend. For me, it is but the logical progression of a person who has embraced the tenants of an ephemeral, yet, ever-powerful movement called Voluntary Simplicity.

If Voluntary Simplicity is my destination, Buddhism is my roadmap.

If Voluntary Simplicity is the cool, misty waters of the Pacific Ocean,

Buddhism is my Surly Long-Haul Trucker:

Let me be clear. While I have embraced the practice of Buddhism, I am still Catholic. Or, at least, as Catholic as the Church says I am. I have yet to find anything inside myself that compels me to abandon my faith. Catholicism, for all its faults and contradictions, is, and always will be, the great enigma of my spiritual life.

What Buddhism has taught me is that I don’t ever have to completely resolve this enigma. I can immerse myself in the waters of my faith, so long as I embrace the path laid out by my heart.

And it is from this path that I write these words today.

[Reflections introductory post]