I hope you enjoy the photos and my thoughts of gratitude xx
1. I am grateful for my 20 year friendship with Calalilly. We laughed about our days in professional acting school in NYC and how naïve we were. I will always remember Cals with her sun-bonnet, thrift shop dress, Prada flip-flops and hello kitty sunglasses. We are two eccentrics who found each other on the Island of Misfit Toys (aka Manhattan) and haven't looked back. We have met up in Vegas and in California but it has been nearly a decade and so we have committed to seeing one another next year. I am grateful for her friendship through the years and I can't wait to see her and laugh like we always did. Laughter and true-love friendships are the best things for the soul and I am blessed to have more than my fair share of people like Cals in my life.
2. I am grateful that Radhika posted a photo of a Xu Bing installation at the Cathedral of St John the Divine on Facebook today. It has been just over 12 years since I was ordained there and it was wonderful to see the Rose window behind the installation. It was a beautiful ceremony and I'm grateful that my sister Mary and brother in law, Larry were there with me. I am grateful that Terrence and Michael and my yoga teacher and unbearable crush - Arjavan - with his fabulous dreadlocks and booming bass voice - came to witness my ordination. I am grateful for my fellow seminarians and for the way we still support one another through Facebook and Skype. I am grateful that we shared that experience together and that we continue to be bonded to one another through our vows and our community.
3. I am grateful that I was in New York during 9/11 and that I lived in New York throughout the 18 months that followed. I was thinking today about a phrase I saw on Facebook - It is ordinary to love the beautiful but it is beautiful to love the ordinary. And I wondered - am I ordinary or am I beautiful? It is something I need to explore within myself further but one thing I understand is that it is easy to be grateful for our blessings. It is so much harder to be grateful for our trauma. I also know that when bad things happen to good people, one has to make a decision - we have the choice - we either get better or we grow bitter. I know I have chosen not to grow bitter.
I am grateful that my plane from the west coast arrived in New York the night before the high-jackings. I could easily have been in the air that day. I am grateful that I was heading in to work for a late start that morning and didn't make it downtown. I am grateful that despite being in the area, none of my friends were injured or killed. I am grateful for the sacrifice of so many first responders. I am grateful for the service of Integral Yoga and the New Seminary to traumatised individuals in New York and I was able to both take advantage as a client and to participate as a teacher/minister. I am grateful that the experience was a bonding one for my close circle of friends, and for New York as a whole. I am grateful that in my own way, I was able to offer some comfort to the souls of the dead. And I am grateful that in the midst of such an atrocity, my faith in the Universe was strengthened rather than weakened. I know I am one of the few lucky ones for whom this happened. I can't explain it except to say that surrender helped. It is a good lesson I need to remember, now.
I find myself getting caught up in nonsense dramas and those aren't my monkeys, and it isn't my circus. When I see people getting addicted to the adrenalin of drama in their lives, I wonder - are they victims of trauma who now don't know how to live without hyper vigilance and cortisol highs?
I know what it is like to suffer the after-effects of trauma and 9/11 is still a very difficult topic for me to discuss and it still informs my behaviour in many ways. I am forever changed by it. Cals and I were saying tonight that our life in New York seemed like such a different universe. And I thought - it was different in a way for which time alone cannot be held accountable. I think it feels like a different universe because that was a defining moment. I like not to think of it as a loss of innocence but as the acquisition of compassion, empathy, unshakable faith and brotherhood.
And whilst I may sound like a Vietnam vet when I say that nobody can understand what it was like to be there - who wasn't there - I know that this is a double edged sword. I have an exaggerated startle response. I experience flashbacks with helicopters flying overhead, and more so with fighter jets. I will not board a flight if I don't feel safe. And yet - I have a faith in a universe where the pattern is beyond my comprehension and I am bonded for life to those with whom I shared those experiences. We are like a 'band of brothers' and I have no words to express my gratitude for that sense that those people have my back, and I have theirs - forever.
Joy - It was a joy to laugh with Cals tonight so hard that it brought tears to my eyes. There are a handful of friends who get my sense of humour so deeply that our bellies hurt after we've been together. Those friends and those moments are priceless, to me.
Photos by blog author
Swimming against the tide - iPad mini
Birds of a Feath... - iPad mini