“What is your purpose in life?” the guardian of the gate at the men’s retreat demanded.
“To work toward a more compassionate, just and sustainable world,” I immediately replied.
“You may enter!”
I guess I’ve known why I’m on this planet for 25 years or so,
And at first, I organized workshops that encouraged folks to wake up,
To get off automatic pilot,
To live and love more fully.
Later I took to writing,
Hundreds of op-eds for a variety of publications,
On peace, simple living, climate change, treating our children well, the connection between us all,
Taking a few potshots at George Bush and his pals in the process.
Next, I endeavored to shift the course of our nation by working for worthy candidates,
As a field organizer for Obama in Ohio in ’08,
As a campaign adviser for Cecil Bothwell’s victorious campaign for the Asheville City Council in ’09,
And as the communications director for Patsy Keever’s successful race for the North Carolina State House in ’10.
And now on the final day of 2010,
I sit down to reflect on how I’ll help bring about,
Compassion, justice and sustainability in the coming year.
I call out to Life: “I am your instrument; I am ready; show me the way.”
And when I get no response, the relentless planner in my head jumps into overdrive,
Maybe I should complete my book on happiness . . . or my essay on gay rights,
Or I maybe I should go to work in the 2011 city council campaign . . . or the 2012 presidential race.
But Life finally answers my plea with the joyful giggle of a 16-week-old baby girl.
And immediately I understand,
This is my mission, my purpose in life:
To honor the sacred responsibility of consciously parenting this lovely, loving, loveable child,
To love Gracelyn unconditionally,
To trust my intuition,
To allow her her independence,
To be fully present with her . . . moment by moment by moment.
With Shonnie, to create safe, secure, loving, fun, enlivening space,
In which Gracelyn is empowered to grow into exactly who she is intended to be.
Thus, we three begin our 18-year meditation retreat . . .
And I follow my breath as I change Gracelyn’s diaper,
I buckle her into her car seat, and I breathe,
I gaze into her brilliant blue eyes . . . and I breathe.
As she cries, and I wonder what to do . . . again, I breathe.
And something imperceptibly shifts . . .
Within Gracelyn, within me, within the universe,
And nothing will ever be the same again.