My alarm went off at 7:00 this morning. I like to have my quiet wakeup time after emerging from the chaotic underworld of sleep (or sometimes the dreaded night-long half-doze) before I feel qualified in any sense to be a human being. Thus, I get up early in order to be up to speed with the rest of life if I have a yoga class to teach or a meeting in the morning. Imagine an oceanliner moving away from its berth, navigating out into the open sea, and opening up to top cruising speed over the course of two or three hours, and you'll have a good idea of what I'm like in the morning. (And please don't say anything perky if you happen to encounter me during this critical period. Fair warning.) Anyway, as is my custom, when my (expletive) alarm goes off, I sigh, roll out of bed, and trundle into the kitchen, where I perform my first sacred ritual of the day: I turn on the coffeemaker. When the cheery red light blinks on, I retreat to the scrumptious haven of my still-warm bed to meditate on the coming day. This period of introspection, during which I gaze in an unfocused fashion at my beloved elm tree, is accompanied by the delightful sound of my three-year-old, $10 coffeemaker from Target cycling through the gurgling, sucking process that culminates in my reluctant re-emergence from my cocoon to pour a perfect cup of hot coffee into my favorite giant rooster mug.
This morning, for some reason, it suddenly occurred to me that I'd never thanked my amazing little coffeepot. Every day it faithfully makes coffee for me without a complaint. (Those of you who know me understand what a crucial task that is.) I thank many of the other objects in my life—my spectacular, oxygen blue Mini Cooper; the gate that lets me into the farm where Jim and I live; my beautiful, silly cat who does a somersault when he sees me; my amazing kid Cisco who runs like the wind and loves to play with words; the birds who cheer me up and make me laugh with their play; the chair I lie on to soak up sun; the pretty house that shelters us.
Do I literally thank these ordinary items? Yeah, I do! I really pat the Mini when I get home or at the top of a huge hill and say, "Thanks, Mini, you're awesome." I go, "Thanks, gate!" I holler out, "Hi, crows, thanks!" I stoop down and say, "Aw, Birdie, you're so funny." Do people think I'm totally weird? Probably. That's OK. Everything has a spirit and a life force, even if it's a shopping cart, a pumpkin at the Halloween patch that no one else wants because it has a big flat spot and a black thingee, or an old laptop that accompanies you faithfully every day to the coffee shop.
So I was a little dismayed this morning to realize I'd never said thanks to my trusty coffeemaker. And I got to thinking, that $10 machine, like all of the other things in our daily lives that support us and help us, are miracles. Strong word? I don't think so; I think that's just about right.
The word "miracle" is from Old French. It originally meant something that causes wonder or astonishment, or something that makes us smile with delight. How did it come then, in modern times, to mean a thing or event that is so far out of our ordinary experience as to cause awe or shock? How, for that matter, did a miracle come to be something that can only be "performed" by someone like a Buddha, a Jesus Christ, or a top-level religious official with a long pedigree full of "spiritual accomplishments"?
I'd like to propose a radical shift in our thinking about miracles. I'd like to suggest that miracles are happening all around us, all day, every day. You know when you turn the faucet and hot water comes out? Miracle. How about when your dog runs away and the kind neighbor brings him home before you even realized Fang was missing? Miracle. What about when you turn the key in your car and a spark ignites some gas that punches down a cylinder that starts a chain reaction that makes your car take you to work or school? And don't leave out when your child smiles at you or the sun comes up (again!). All miracles.
I've been following the Occupy Wall Street movement and am so moved and inspired by the massive awakening of Americans (and humanity in general) to take back our power and our divine right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness from those who would seek to keep us enslaved to a system that no longer serves us. These protests are a really important step in identifying what we do want—by identifying what we don't.
I wonder how things would shift, though, if the protesters and everyone else started to look around and identify all the miracles that are unfolding on a daily basis. In other words, what if everyone right now who's angry, upset, and miserable began to focus their attention on what's right in their lives. I'm not talking about good old positive thinking, although that's a start. I'm talking about looking at the people or entities that we identify as our "oppressors," and—this is insane, I know—find something that's right about them. What's the miracle they bring to the world? Everybody brings at least one.
That line from Avatar (the blue people movie, not the cartoon) keeps running through my mind: "I see you." What does that mean? Like the Sanskrit namaste, it connotes a deep look within a person or object to see past the physical manifestation and its effects in the world, both positive and negative. It looks far within to the divine nature of every thing--rocks, plants, stars, people, buildings, animals, and all that exists on this beautiful planet and elsewhere. All of it is made of the same stuff, the same divine building material.
So when you witness someone who is doing something we perceive as wrong or evil, I ask you to consider this: he has temporarily forgotten Who He Is. I ask you to consider this as well: "Sin" is nothing more than forgetting Who You Are. Sin cannot occur when you remember that We Are All One. I believe that this "original sin" idea that many of the churches try to sell us to make us think people are inherently bad (and thus fearful and thus more easily controlled) is really only the forgetting of our divine origin. That we are capable of all Jesus Christ and Buddha could do, and more.
What if the next time someone "sins" against you, you take a deep breath, look them full in the face, smile big, and say, "I see you." They might curse and walk away. They might call you nuts. They might get even angrier and meaner because you're calling them on their shit in the kindest and most profoundly effective manner available. And I guarantee they're going to feel a shift—if not right then, then later. Having someone witness your inherent divinity, especially despite seeming evidence to the contrary, is Big Medicine.
Many of our leaders at all levels are sinning. Many corporations are sinning. Many religious leaders are sinning. Anyone who has forgotten Who They Are is sinning. Help them to remember (including yourself! Look in the mirror!) and stay centered on your divine purpose here as well, whatever you've identified that to be. It's easy to get pulled off center right now.
So what does this have to do with my $10 coffeemaker? It all starts with appreciation of the daily miracles that make up our lives here on Planet Earth. There's so much to be thankful for. Don't be shy—say a heartfelt thanks to your favorite kitchen appliance today!
I see you.