Compassion Gratitude


On that first Saturday of their conference at Ferry Beach, when children’s faces see one another after a year apart, their delight is infectious. The magic that is Ferry Beach is palpable in the hugs of friends, in the retreats of church members, in the discovery of something created when voices blend, or children play. Conferences and retreats at Ferry Beach are enchanting.

Carol Lee Flinders wrote in her book At the Root of This Longing:  “At any given moment (in life) a great many things can be happening at once, whose connections become clear only much later.” Many of you have probably seen the quote that says that you can “live your life as if everything is a miracle or nothing is.”

I’d like to believe that the synchronicities and moments of magic are always there for us to experience; it’s just that sometimes we haven’t slowed down enough to see them. Mystics remind us that the truth we seek is not outside of ourselves, but inside.

If you have ever experienced a serious crisis in your life, you know how time just seems to slow down. In these moments we experience the wilderness as we have never before. Our senses are on high alert; we have the opportunity to look at everything we have ever seen, with new eyes, but only if we make a conscious choice to do so.

It takes discipline and will to follow what environmentalist, Joanna Macy calls the “work that reconnects.” She reminds us that the spiral begins with gratitude for what we have or where we are. In the face of a crisis, “gratitude quiets the frantic mind and brings us back to source.”

For Macy and us, to move around the spiral, we acknowledge our pain in the moment: for what is missing or what we have been unable to do. “In owning this pain and daring to experience it, we learn that our capacity to suffer with is the true meaning of compassion. We begin to know the immensity of our heart-mind and how it helps us to move beyond fear. What had isolated us in private anguish now opens outward and delivers us into the wider reaches of our world.” As President Obama said in his farewell address, “for all our differences, we rise or fall as one. Be vigilant, but not afraid.”

Once we acknowledge gratitude and move to compassion, it is easier to eventually see the world, or our situation, with new eyes. Each time, the spiral deepens us to the work that is laid out before us, if we are willing to make the choice to experience the spiral.

Crises have a way of kicking the wind out of our lungs. Many of us felt this on the morning of November 9th, 2016. Catching our collective breath in the next weeks and months has been hard. Many of us have been around the spiral several times already.

Some of us are looking for what to be grateful for and find it in the amazing awakenings to the everyday misogyny of our culture. We are grateful for the knowledge that we have a long way to go to rid ourselves as a people of the legacy of slavery and racism. All over the U.S., people are waking up to the misogyny and racisms that still permeate our culture. At Ferry Beach, we are grateful for the opportunity to consider how we can use our physical space, our mission and our resources to target these and other issues.

Ferry Beach will always be a place of respite, and we are becoming clearer about what Ferry Beach means as a concept. The magic of this place travels in its various forms to families, churches, couples, communities, cities, and towns all over the U.S. and even places around the globe. Can we stitch these threads together in a quilt of purpose and an active mission?

Our journey around the spiral as an organization, as a people, as a collection of communities, is just awakening. We are beginning to see Ferry Beach and the world we touch upon together with new eyes.

Look into your heart-mind: what brings you gratitude and leads to compassion? Join the dialogue of how Ferry Beach will use its magic and its 32 acres, 19 buildings, 2000+ members and many more friends in the service of the greater world, our planet and all of its inhabitants. Universal love is no small endeavor, let’s go!

​Please use the comment section to post your ideas. 

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