Last night in Foundations class we were talking about the spiritual practices of Oneness and Forgiveness. Very easy concepts to understand and often difficult to apply to our lives. Starting a discussion seemed impossible. Then one man courageously said that the topics were difficult to talk about. His courageous disclosure gave the others permission to speak about their difficulties seeing oneness everywhere and in forgiving (especially themselves.) That kind of sharing is sacred and profound. Voices hushed and people spoke honestly about their experiences.

Each student was asked to bring a news story, one positive and one negative. then we read them and chose one about a couple who abandoned their three children in the woods and were later arrested for possession of crystal meth. The children , who like Hansel and Gretel, found their way out of the woods safely, were placed in protective custody. were found a couple of hours later. We then looked at how God showed up as all the characters in the story. The last part of the exercise was to brainstorm ways that this story could be something that was the best thing for our world. Ideas such as the children, now living in loving, safe homes, could become advocates for drug abstinence. the couple could get sober in the penitentiary and change their ways forever advocating better choices. Then we looked at our own biases and how they influenced our interpretation of the story. It was a great exercise which helped people see when they are judgmental about something it narrows their perception. 

One of the women, who has worked with the Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, was moved by the loving, respectful energy in the room. She said our process reminded her of being in a similar circle with him.
When we truly see God everywhere and in everyone, our lives are lived in peace.

The following is his poem, entitled, “Call Me By My True Names.”

Call Me by My True Names
Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second to be a bud on a spring branch, 

to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile, learning to sing in my new nest, 

to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, in order to fear and to hope. 
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that are alive.
I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,

and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time 

to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond, 

and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence, 

feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks, 

and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,

who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,

and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands,

and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, mypeople,

dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in allwalks of life.

My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names, 

so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once, 

so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names, 

so I can wake up, 

and so the door of my heart can be left open, 

the door of compassion.