Monday, October 20, 2008

Esperanza (hope?)

I notice the subject of "hope" arising lately in songs I've been writing. It's a little funny, because I don't tend to find the word "hope" very vibrant (with apologies to our beloved Barack :-) When I first heard the word "esperanza," however, I had a wholly different feeling, and immediately set to writing a song by that name... When I sang it (nervous and shaky) for my Bolivian roommate (I don't speak Spanish, so writing an entire chorus in the language was pretty risky!)... - when I sang it for her, I told her my sense of the word, Esperanza, is that though it's often translated as "hope," its quality is more potent - as if striving for something that you know will come to be, living your life as an expression of hopefulness and positivity in the present. She said, "yes, that's it."

Respira la esperanza, con la fuerza del espiritu
Inspira la esperanza, con la fuerza del espiritu

My feelings on hope (and this presidential campaign, if I may) is that it need not be an end-point, but rather a quality we live our lives with. I don't actually feel a sense of attachment that comes with the "hope" that Obama or McCain wins or loses (respectively :-) But rather, I feel a deep knowing of the goodness of human nature. And honestly, I see "hopeful" bits of human goodness in both of them. Not to say I agree with both of their principles equally... But it serves to be said that I feel a sense of "hope," of goodness and grace, that is unconditional. I know humankind the world over is struggling now to find its balance - to learn how to live together in this ever-shrinking span of cultural distances... I know we all - me, you, the guy next door - we all struggle with the forces of dark and light within ourselves. Every day we have the choice whether to judge one another for our differences, even those we think are so clearly "wrong." And a million other subtle choices - do I know the repercussions of the little one-mile drive I took today, the plastic bag I took home, the smile I left with that cashier...? We live in a tangled web of dark and light, conscious and unconscious...

So I take time to return every day, to remember the sacred things I hold dear - peacefulness, compassion, non-judging, gratitude... And from this place I live, perhaps a little more simply, and with a lot of love and knowledge of the goodness of humankind. Lost, overwhelmed, shut-down, confused as we may be, we are a blessed species - and indomitably sweet :-) And the "hopefulness" I feel comes from that knowing - not to be diminished when one "hope" or another comes true or not. So often we can't understand the ways of grace...

As Rob Brezsney reminded us,

Before the last U.S. presidential election in 2004, *What Is Enlightenment?* magazine posed the following query to five religious leaders: "Many people argue that the upcoming presidential election is the most important in our lifetime. Do you agree?"

Four of the respondents said, in effect, "Yes, because George Bush is bad for America and the world."

But the fifth religious leader, Zen Buddhist Jan Chozen Roshi, replied, "I don't know. Our existence is so short, it's like a dust mote in the eye of God. To say that the time in which my dust mote existed was the most important is a self-centered view."

I love that!

And still, another new song arose the other day, in honor of this moment, this precipice...

Mother of the world, bring our souls to surrender
Bring your holy light down, that your children remember,
that we come from the womb just like all the ancestors,
and return to the roots of timeless answers, timeless answers...

And it's a time of doom and a time of rage
And everything we knew is falling away
But we are turning the page, we are the change
Sacred fire is burning away...

And I knew you long before I knew there was something more, something more...
And I held your hand before I knew the secret door, secret door...

Blessings on your journey - may you be ever-filled with peace.

Om Shanti

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