What’s important in your life? Or, what do you want to do or accomplish before you die? Googling the questions brings up some bizarre suggestions, including things to try before you die (a book), websites on food to eat, hotels to stay, sexiest things to do (a Playboy reality show), artworks to see, birds to watch, and yes, secrets you must discover (with a PhD host to will tell you what they are).
But what really matters once we get past the easy answers? What do we long to accomplish, let go off, find out, know or feel. Chances are the answer has little to do with things or acquisitions, but more with qualities or experiences of a deeply personal nature. Well, something happened to me two days ago when important pieces fell into place.
While reading the obituary of an admired teacher (see Wednesdays post), I learned that he arrived at a turning point while sewing his ordination robe–causing a shift from Zen training to becoming a rabbi. I was further touched by his dedication to his vocation. To the last breath, he taught, blessed, meditated, jogged, and enjoyed the love of his congregation, his family, and his students.
Both aspects brought a flash of clarity to my own life. You see, I truly love what I do (as never before) and continue to be amazed at the opportunity to be of service to people at the end of their lives. Each day I discover new layers of compassion within me. Each day people tell me that my presence is of importance.
A while back I applied to the two-year chaplaincy training program at Upaya Zen Center in New Mexico under the guidance of Joan Halifax. After being accepted, I asked for a year’s delay, citing financial concerns and … because I felt unsure of my suitability for the program and the work itself. All that has been resolved. I know what I want (have!) to do before I die: to continue teaching and serving. Back-and-forth travel to Upaya will begin in March. Deep bows of gratitude to Rabbi Alan Lew for his precious gift.