The Eyes Have It

The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh

There is a something in the autumn of life that hops up and down like a puppy requiring my attention. It yaps: honor thy feet.

“Vanity is no longer the root cause of a pedicure,”I say to the person who tends mine. My ego frowns as I check out my once beautiful trotters now anointed with crooked toes.

“Relax your feet,” the person coaches, innocent of the fact that the drive there served up a demanding video game of speedy reflexes. I consider the reason that sadness has drifted to my toes, and all the while self-recrimination shouts out my childhood name – Margaret Roben!

Perking up here to the fact that morning devotion rarely prepares me for the caliber of curves that the day brings. In this season of brotherhood breakdown, frequent messages buzz around in a quest for insight.

This snug as a bug existence can no longer dismiss our current atmosphere of incessant wake up calls. Could creation itself be pushing for a more evolved way to experience life?

To be prepared, tomorrow I’ll set my channel for drive-by memorandums from the divine.

I’ve heard folk tell that it is easy to go to God, but if it is that simple, what prevents us from welcoming the stranger and becoming the cheerful giver? The limitations of my thoughts are reflected in “occupied self,” repeating like a skipped record. What the future needs appears to be beyond the short sightedness of current routines.

As I sit in luxury’s lap being pedicured, I picture the beautiful girl at the intersection around the corner. Younger than my daughters are now, she waits for relief by approaching cars that idle in the turn lane.

I roll down the window. “I have no cash with me. I wish I did.” I feel the pitiful lack.

She shows a big toothless smile. “So-kay, thank you for speaking to me anyway.” She backs away.

I sometimes wonder if God is holding his/her breath to see the outcome of such a moment. Connecting with her clear blue eyes, I feel the weight of her man’s suit coat and dingy suitcase.

The philippic against culture blows a horn.

Playwright Sarah Ruhl says, “The more Buddhist I get, the more Catholic I get. It’s like going forth in the snow, pulling one’s childhood sled behind.” Truth in action expands my experience because I’ve learned that Buddhist applications often crystallize Christian teachings.

Takuhatsu is one such Buddhist tradition. For eons in Japan, the gift of alms placed into bowls held out by Buddhist monks has expressed the giver as grateful, a tough stretch for the American mind.

Imagine that within the act of takuhatsu, the making of money or filling the bowl is not the point. Reflections of acceptance, humility and poverty are to be considered.

Buddha taught that such reciprocity brings about lessons in non acquiring, a necessity in learning the gifts of non attachment.

Well you may say that is going too far; this act shows a lack of initiative. Once a friend admonished me for giving money to a beggar. She monitored that any pittance would be wasted. Our collective ignorance shuns the brilliant design of interdependence.

Those young blue eyes revealed a wall that is crumbling. It took courage to lock eyes with her, and at the same time it felt like the kind of prayer, that in the beginning, God created.

In that moment my knee jerk habit of praying for ponies died. I dismissed those lazy flat, misguided words that presume I know best. Former prayer-wishes require nothing – no action, or more to the point, no change of heart.

I recognized a loss of energy within institutionalized fund raising by churches and non-profits. Most of the time, giving is an impersonal gesture void of eye contact. The disconnect sits squarely within when I am called to write a check.

From the gut, the teaching wiggles inside that all people are worthy. Is there a more free flowing way to demonstrate? Is God holding his/her breath?

I bought a paper calendar for 2022. Post quarantine, writing practice for a more intentional planning time seems proper. An area is set aside for documenting where personal resources will flow during the coming week. This is an act of true refreshment.

Express yourself with generosity it prompts, celebrate connections because sharing makes good design sense.

Divine drive-by is on for me. The blessed chaos of our time provides daily rebuke of our disconnect. As James Hadley Chase said, “What the eyes don’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve about.” We must never be too timid or hard of heart to lock eyes with the other.