Level V of Shambhala's Heart of Warriorship series is titled "Open Sky" and is described as: "Communicating with the world gently and fearlessly, our awareness is sharpened and we find the open clear sky of mind — a delightful source of wisdom and uplifted energy. We trust our nature enough to let go into the present moment." While I loved the weekend, I will admit that I found this pure awareness form of meditation a challenge.
On the other hand, I feel like I do know this open state of being and spend a lot of time in it at work at the reference desk. My experience in working with the public is that the more open and in the moment and free from preconceptions I am (and the better sense of play and humor I have), the more I can connect and help my patrons with their various needs. I especially love the wide range of humanity I get to serve, which truly brings out the best in me, so when we were chatting in the discussion group about our challenges with the meditation I mentioned my experience at work and playfully said, "Bring me a homeless person!"
We broke for lunch and I headed over to V. Richards where I got this amazing meat and three trio of salads:
Yes, that is a salad of chunks of avocado, tomato, cilantro, and feta. Needless to say, amazing!! I'd been tipped off about a beautiful park in the area, Avondale Park, so I wandered over to enjoy my salad and take in the gorgeous day. The weather was perfect - bright blue sky and sunshine with a refreshing mild breeze. Since I wasn't familiar with the park, which is in an urban area, I found a table in an area with plenty of other people wandering about, right next to a busy play area.
I dug into my delicious salads, savoring the food, the beautiful day, and the sounds of happy families at play. And that's when my morning "wish" came true, in the form of a homeless man named Moses, who came and sat at my picnic table with me. We chatted about the lovely day and he told me about the history of the park, which once housed a zoo. We talked about the challenges of living in the park and being homeless. I could tell that the people around me were initially a little concerned about me, which I appreciated, but Moses didn't give off any kind of dangerous vibe and while I was attentive to him and my surroundings I felt very comfortable.
In the course of our conversation, we laughed about this and that, which seemed to put people at ease. And it was so helpful to really consciously be in that state of openness that I seem to find so easy among my homeless friends - they do an amazing job at opening my mind and heart. I was able to see how I might try to have that same interest and curiosity and attentiveness about my own mind and awareness, which I was able to take into my practice that afternoon.
It truly was a gift to get that time with Moses, plus he kindly took my leftovers from my oversize lunch off my hands (in addition to a little money for some food of his own). As fall sets in, he is definitely in my prayers - his is not an easy life.
The ceremony that afternoon was beautiful and so heartfelt. I'm very grateful to have fallen in with the perfect group to finish up these last two levels with. And now I even have a pin to prove it! For Kath's benefit, you can see it here on my wall of favorite things, under the Lojong slogan card: "Be grateful to everyone." And I am.