Pausing in our ongoing exploration of the Noble Eightfold Path, I would like to simply be present for this moment when such strong (and mostly jubilant) emotion is being felt throughout the world.
I want to send metta (loving kindness blessings) to President Obama, his family and his administration. May they be safe and free from harm. May they be happy. May they know peace in their hearts. These are blessings we wish for every being.
For the newly elected leader of a nation I add: May you stay fully in touch with your deepest wisdom. May Right View be the foundation of your every decision. May you be fully present to hear and understand the needs of the people, the planet and the times. May you find peace within yourself and spread that peace throughout the world.
Beyond sending metta, I want to bring full awareness to this moment. First, I want to express gratitude for the skillful means with which every four to eight years our government manages the peaceful, sometimes even cordial, transition of power. All the pomp and circumstance that surrounds this transition helps to ensure the understanding of the importance of this emblematic moment.
Every moment is a moment of transition. Every moment in our lives has the potential to be pivotal. But some moments are the pivotal points in the lives of all beings on our planet at the same time, whether they are aware of it or not. And January 20, 2009 a few minutes after noon EST was one of those. The ramifications of this shift of such a powerful government from operating out of fear to operating out of love, hope and openness are huge. None of us know what the future will hold, whether the promise will bring hoped for results, but the potential is certainly there for positive change.
President Obama has been clear all along that he cannot save the world. He can only inspire us to do so. His greatest gift is his ability to empower us to be the change we want to see in the world. The ‘Obama Era’ is one of service. Each of us in our own way has the opportunity to enrich our own lives and the lives of others by spending some of our time volunteering. It’s up to each of us to look into ourselves to find what it is we would most like to offer. If you are interesting in finding opportunities in your area, go to http://www.volunteersolutions.org/ .
While I have been volunteering for a number of years, for some reason this call to service reminds me more of my father than myself. He had a prestigious career in arts administration as Director of the San Francisco Museum of Art and President of the Philadelphia College of Art, and none of us were surprised when he retired and got out his oil paints and brushes and set up an easel in the spare room. We would not have been surprised if he had volunteered to teach art in the community. But we couldn’t help but be a little surprised that he signed up to be a bus boy at the local free dining room. That volunteer job brought him so much joy. He truly loved the people he served and missed them when his health no longer permitted him to be of service. Years after his death, I still enjoy trying to imagine him busing tables in the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room in San Rafael, CA. In the scope of his whole life, it was a very small part, but it’s the part that shines the brightest all these many years out.