Sunday Sermon (special Tuesday edition)

When is Now?

Why do we believe in forever? It's a bizarre concept really. Excluding the particles that we learned about in Physics class, NOTHING lasts forever. Yet we continue to talk about things like "best friends forever" and "true love always."

We can't seem to stand the idea that things will change, or worse yet - come to an end. When they do we are stunned. We look back and wish we could be there again, back in the day.

Recently, I've been surprised by how much the changes taking place around me have stung. My family has sold the two condos in California that I think of as home, my sister's baby (coming very soon) is putting an end to our mellow, "no kids" style family holidays, my friends are moving away, and more importantly, everyone is moving on. Several of my closest relationships have faltered, and a few are in scary growth phases. As if this isn't sufficent angst for one summer, my usually youthful body has decided to cop out as well.

In honor of my 4oth year on this earth, my hair has staged a walk-out. I have known for some time now that I was thinning on top, but it has become more obvious of late. My female friends all say that it's not that noticeable - it's sweet of them, but I would like to respectfully remind the BCPs that lying is a sin...

At times like this, we need to recall that some things really do get better as they change with age. I had a leather jacket once that was faded and distressed at the elbows, and so broken-in that putting it on was like getting a hug from your grandmother (without that weird "old person" smell).
It was a trusted friend who kept me warm on long motorcycle rides up and down the California Coast, until the day in '86 when it laid down its skin in lieu of mine on a rainy street in Long Beach. I can still remember seeing it wadded up in an emergency room trash can, ripped and cut to shreds. I saw in it the wreckage of an old warrior, wearing his scars with pride.

I wish I could say that I'm becoming like that jacket, but I too would be lying. My breaking-in process is proceeding at an uncomfortable pace, with an alarming emphasis on the breaking. The only thing I have in common with that old coat is that I too will be a discarded wreck some day.

"Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha." If your Sanskrit is a little rusty, it's something like, "gone, gone, totally gone, totally completely gone, enlightened, so be it." It's found at the end of the Heart Sutra, and it speaks to the ultimate emptiness of form, and the futility of our clinging to it.

It's good to know that we will all be spent some day. That knowledge compels us to let go of each moment as it passes. We can stop clinging to everything as it was, stop worrying about how it might be, and actually see how it is now. Change is the constant, and now is so brief a time as to be almost an illusion; we are wasting it by looking back or guessing about tomorrow.

Go in Peace.


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