It's different here. No religious body has the kind of control over everyday lives in the U.S. that the Catholic church had there, and then. But life is fraught with difficulties and problems no matter where you are in the world and, though I'm no longer in Ireland, when life goes haywire, as it regularly does, I find myself back on my knees, begging for help, for courage, for acceptance, for peace.
Take the last few weeks.
Two of our children live out west, one in California, one in Oregon, states which, in case you haven't heard, have been on fire for some time. Oregon seems to be over the worst of it, but California's still burning. I had previously thought I felt sympathy and compassion whenever I heard of disasters in far flung places, but when the disaster touched people I know and love, people I gave birth to, I realized how shallow my compassion for those other unfortunates really was. I felt the panic of a mother bear separated from her cubs, unable to save them. I've been praying a lot, storming heaven. Your Man up there is probably tired of listening to me at this stage. CA girl had to evacuate once already, along with horses, cat and boss's dog. Now that she's back, they can still see the fire in the distance, a few ridges over, and, depending on the heat and the wind, the danger is still real. Oregon boy does not live where the fires were worst so he did not have to evacuate. But work was put on hold, the air quality being for a while, the unhealthiest in the world, right along with California's. Eventually, though many would say not soon enough, the rains came to Oregon, but California is still waiting. And when it isn't raining Oregonians can see the sun once more, as it normally looks, rather than a dull red smudge in the sky glowing darkly through a haze of choking smoke.
And, now that they are safe, I'm still storming heaven, in gratitude to God, Allah, the Buddha, the Ultimate Reality, Mother Nature - aren't they all the same at the end of the day? Especially Mother Nature as she's the one calling the shots, determining how hot it will be, or not be, and in what direction the winds will blow today. I can't help thinking this entity (I'm pretty sure it's not an old gentleman with a white beard, sitting on a cloud) must be saddened by all the hate and lack of civility humans are displaying in the cities wracked by riots and anarchy, not to mention the colossal mess we're making of this fragile, beautiful planet.
Maybe we're supposed to learn from 2020 - to love more; to judge less; to give each other the benefit of the doubt; to be kinder to each other, and ourselves; to breathe
Maybe even to pray.
"No mud, no lotus," says Thich Nhat Hanh.
We've had a lot of mud this year. I'm hoping for a bumper crop of lotuses.