Being Sacred

If you want to be filled up and cleared out by the power and beauty of orange-ness, I highly recommend a trip to the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve. I had never seen such a dense carpet of flowers.

My mom and I visited last weekend along with thousands of people wending their way along the paths. “They’ve all come to receive a blessing, whether they know it or not,” Mom said. The wind was whipping the poppies about, and I thought, perhaps they’re prayer flags. Maybe each petal sends a message to the Divine every time it flutters back and forth.


A few days later an interior knowing arrived: we are not here to improve—not ourselves, not the world. Along with this thought came a feeling of a layer lifting and beneath it a joyful thrumming of life was released.

The Tao Te Ching says, “The universe is sacred./ You cannot improve it.”

How can this be given climate change, racism, poverty? What are we to make of the reality that some people appear to live into their full potential and others are destroyed by life? Don’t we need to work toward changing these conditions?

Of course we do, and yet some years the hills are blanketed with poppies, and some years the rain doesn’t fall. Some days everything we touch turns to gold, and some days it all ends up in the trash can. “Sometimes breathing is hard, sometimes it comes easily.”

Far more important than improvement is to allow ourselves to be the blessing that we are, to allow the wind to blow through us and spread our beauty and love to those around us. We can live in that joyful thrumming on the easy days and the hard.

This sacred universe is evolving. We participate in that process, but we don’t make it happen. We are the doors through which evolution passes, but we don’t initiate the transformation. “If you try to change [the universe], you will ruin it.”

Hold Still

You might think that after thirty-two years of playing soccer, enjoying it would no longer surprise me. But I strive not to be that sensible.

Driving home from a game the other night I thought, “That was fun.” The thought is not new, but this time I paused long enough to let it expand into some open space in my brain, space that is usually occupied by other, less fun thoughts, such as, how can I exercise more, write more, eat more vegetables, and have more down time? In my next life I want to worry about why I can’t do less, just for variety.

Quality improvement processes go like this: look at what’s happening, see which part is broken, figure out a possible solution, try it, check to see whether it’s working. My brain, on the other hand, goes like this: assume nothing is as good as it could be, come up with twenty-five hours worth of daily improvements, begin system overload due to attempted expansion of space-time continuum, scramble to scale back and prioritize, fail, shut down system, reboot and run again. I am pretty sure I found this method in the Tao Te Ching or Bhagavad Gita.

That momentary space in my brain allowed me to wonder whether anything actually needs to be improved. Might it be possible that I am healthy enough, accomplishing enough, treating others well enough? And if so, what do I do about it?

Because it only took a few minutes to realize that everything being OK is pretty scary. What happens next if we’re OK? What is there for us to DO? How can we prove our worth? What will prevent us from sitting on the couch eating potato chips to the exclusion of all else?

Age-old wisdom aside, I think I’ll risk living my life exactly the way it is for a few months and check to see whether, just maybe, everything’s OK.