But for the Love

“Unless you know how to love your neighbor, you cannot love God. Before placing an offering on the altar of God, you have to reconcile with your neighbor, because reconciling with your neighbor is to reconcile with God. You can only touch God through his creatures; you will not understand what is true love, the love of God, unless you practice the love of humanity.” ~Thich Nhat Hahn, Zen master, poet and peace activist, Taming the Tiger Within

Recently, I had the honor of becoming friends with Chase Gagnon through a poetry group we’re apart of on Facebook. To say it simply, his words move my soul. Today, I have the privilege to share the power of his poetry, photography and storytelling! Enjoy.

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“I was walking into Zeff’s on the corner of Russell and Winder for lunch when I saw him sitting against the wall. The same tattered old man who’s always roaming around Eastern Market through the snow and freezing rain asking strangers for money, the guy who you can see digging through dumpsters and trash cans looking for scraps of food.

I never have anything to give him, and he knows this by now. But it’s the day after Christmas, and I just hit it big off a dollar scratcher. Won thirty five bucks. He puts his head down as I approach, shielding his face from the wind. “Hey man, you want some lunch?” His eyes lit up “you serious fam? I’m hungry as a motherfucker!

I said “hell yeah!” motioning him with my head to get up off the cold ground. We walked into the filthy dive and sat at the bar, each ordered a couple coney dogs and some chilly fries with a hot cup of coffee.”

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“We sat and talked about basketball, how insane Andre Drummond played last night as highlights from the game flashed across the fuzzy TV screen above the counter. Laughed at how stupid our fellow Americans were for electing Donald Trump, and then talked a little bit about how goddamn cold it’s been this past week.

I saw his eyes ice over when he thought about the weather outside, gazing back out into the filthy streets where he sleeps while he sipped his piping hot coffee, both bare hands gripping the mug for warmth. “You know, I can’t remember the last time someone treated me like a human.”

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how bitter
its silence —
gently falling snow

~Chase Gagnon

*photos, poetry, and storytelling by Chase Gagnon

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The Forbearance of Being True

ImageA friend of mine lately has inspired me by sharing their personal truth. Though this isn’t the time or the place to share that story, I would like to share how it etched something so deeply in my soul that for the first time in my life I am not afraid. I am not afraid of what has been, what is, or what will come. It is because of one simple truth I heard through his life. No matter what we are faced with in this lifetime or in the next as long as we can stand in the power of forbearance being true to our inner selves we will be able to endure anything because nothing can change our essence.

Looking up the meaning of the word forbear, you come across ‘to refrain from’ and ‘to be patient or self-controlled.’ Forbearance means the act of forbearing; a refraining of something; forbearing conduct or quality; patient endurance; self-control. On January 1st, I wrote a post called Honoring My Essence. The first lesson in that process for me is forbearance. When I look mindfully and deeply inside, I can see that I have let my personal suffering, sorrows, and negativity slowly erode my awareness so that I became dull. I have denied or ignored certain illusions in my life connected to anger, resentment, and bitterness causing a delay in my growth. I have done this so often that it has become a repeated pattern that finely lays within every atom, molecule, cell, tissue, organ, muscle, and living system in my being. It wasn’t until someone reached out in love to me and openly shared their truth that it could finally be lodged from my unconscious and brought to light.

Now I can take the first steps towards the forbearance of being true to my essence knowing that I have nothing to fear.

I would like to end this post on a meditation from Deng Ming-Dao that waters the seeds of trust.

Arctic breath coils the mountain,

Rattling the forest’s bones.

Raindrops cling to branches:

Jewelled adornment flung to earth.

Trees in winter lose their leaves. Some trees may even fall during storms, but most stand patiently and bear their fortune.

They endure rain, snow, wind, and cold. They bear the adornment of glycerin raindrops, glimmering icicles, or crowns of snow without care. They are not concerned when such lustrous splendor is dashed to the ground. They stand, and they wait, the power of their growth apparently dormant. But inside, a burgeoning is building imperceptibly.

Theirs is the forbearance of being true to their inner natures. It is with this power that they withstand both the vicissitudes and adornment of life, for neither bad fortune nor good fortune will alter what they are. We should be the same way. We may have great fortune, or bad, but we should patiently bear both. No matter what, we must always be true to our inner selves.

~Deng Ming-Dao~

*photo by Stephan Bruhl 

http://500px.com/photo/7180241