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who is on your altar?

liz lamoreux

Tonight my husband and I watched the movie Good Night, and Good Luck. I am still sitting with all the thoughts that came up as I took in this film. The shadows and lighting were just incredible. And the faces of these actors - the quick moments of emotion captured. It felt so timely, beyond timely really. I wish we had a voice of reason like this today. Right now. Do we? And if we do, will that person who stands up for freedom of speech and belief lose his or her job? Be moved to a Sunday afternoon time slot that no one will watch?

As I listened to McCarthy's words, I felt the same way I feel when I watch the news or the Sunday morning political shows or hear the voice of George W. Bush. However, through this reaction, I had one split second of sanity and was reminded of a teaching my yoga teacher shared with my training group when we met for the first time after the 2004 election. It is a story about the spiritual teacher Ram Dass. I ask your forgiveness in that I am paraphrasing a story that has been passed down, but I believe that he wrote about it in one of his books. During the 80s, Ram Dass found following his teacher's teaching to love everyone challenging. Every time he saw Casper Weinberger on the news, he felt lots of emotions but love was not one of them. His teacher said that this teaching was not one you decide to follow one day and then let go of another. So Ram Dass brought a picture of Weinberger to his altar. Imagine coming to your altar where you have symbols, pictures, artifacts, a candle for peace and so on that all represent your spiritual teachers and teachings. You might say, "Hello Buddha. Thank you for your example Jesus. Good morning Mom. Thank you to the spirits who have gone before me. Hello my favorite rock that reminds me of my connection to nature. Thank you for the reminder to let go of attachment Shiva. Ah...Casper. Yes. Hello to you too."

My teacher was challenging us, and herself, to think about putting Bush on our alters. Can I do this? Can I put Bush, McCarthy, Weinberger, and so many others on my altar? Can I project compassion instead of anger? Can I open my heart enough to realize that loving everyone is non-negotiable? Tonight, I am certain, that I am not ready for this. (One person did ask my teacher, "Can it be the bobblehead Bush?") I might need to start with someone else. But then again, if not now, then when? And, if I can bring Bush to my alter, maybe I can bring people who have hurt me to my altar. Those people in my past I may not want to think about. Those people who also need my compassion.

Who needs your compassion more than your anger? Who do you need to bring to your altar?