E Pluribus Unum



[  Kenny Irwin creations, Palm Springs, CA]

Although, more and more, my spiritual practice is about the Here and Now, I’ve spent the last couple of days looking at my 2013. Yes. Reading my journal.

What has struck me is this: the story I’ve been telling myself about this past year isn’t what I’d carefully recorded! I’ve glossed over several key—and sometimes painful—events, completely forgotten others that, in fact, had demanded enormous energy and dedication. (My work on an ad hoc committee at my Quaker meeting, which met weekly/sometimes twice a week for much of the spring and early summer, for example.)

Humbling. And illuminating.

Yet this is also true: The story I’ve been telling myself is what I’ve crafted from all the bits and pieces I’d carefully recorded. My aging and forgetful and biochemically-upbeat and cheerful mind has arranged and edited those bits and pieces so as to tell an upbeat and cheerful narrative.

We all do that. We all make meaning based on who we are and what we’re about.  I’m remembering how, last week, my seven-year-old grandson, Dmitri, and four-year-old granddaughter, Ruby, made meaning of the rooms and rooms and glass case after glass case of stuff at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Of all the stuffed animals—and there were thousands of them—they gazed at, in a sense, that afternoon boiled down to this:

Dmitri’s museum was the large, stuffed animal whose stuffing was leaking through the vertical seam down the animal’s backside.

Ruby’s museum was the pigmy shrew, probably the smallest and cutest mammal in the whole place!

A related observation about that excursion: The Museum, for the most part, is strictly Old School, i.e., not interactive. Yet Dmitri and Ruby loved walking through room after room, willy-nilly looking at whatever struck their fancy. Just like I did in the museums of my childhood. Seemingly, these 21st-century children didn’t need to push buttons or walk through a giant-sized simulation to be awed by the wonder and beauty and incredible variety of what surrounded them. Creation. Mystery. Something Greater than Themselves.

Making meaning is moment by moment selection and, sometimes, what we’re making meaning of can be experienced by simply standing, drop-jawed, perhaps, and quietly  taking in whatever’s in front of us. The present, precious moment. The Here and Now.

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  1. Ah, museums! Nothing beats an actual, 3-dimensional, musty old stuffed animal skin. And dioramas. Even old ceramic shards.

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