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Out of the Muck

As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world.– Gautama Buddha

Sometimes progress is slow going. And sometimes we get downright stuck, seemingly not moving at all. It’s in those moments that we often question ourselves. Self-doubt creeps in and clouds our mind and we wonder if we are even on the right track. Or if we will ever accomplish our goals. Or if we will ever get beyond our present circumstances.

So how do we continue to grow and even flourish in times of upheaval when things seem to be spiraling out of control? 2020 feels like one of these moments. If I’m being honest, there have been plenty of times this year that I’ve wondered, as the Marvin Gaye song questions: What’s going on?! And I know that I’m not alone. I took a recent poll on my Facebook page asking friends for the song they felt represented 2020 and about half of the people who responded did so with a song that spoke about doom and destruction. And I get it. There are many areas in our society that feel stuck and like they are pulling us back. But even in these times I still feel hopeful that we ARE growing.

At the farmers market this weekend I spoke to a local artist about a piece of her artwork depicting a woman sitting in the lotus position, meditating. Out of her head sprung a tree and at the top was a lotus flower. I asked about the symbolism of the art and she explained that the lotus erupts from the muck and mud, unsullied. As it grows it becomes deeply rooted and makes its way toward the sun rising from the murky water with the slightest sliver of light guiding its way. As it unfolds, one beautiful petal at a time the water rolls off of the flower and it remains pure. The lotus symbolizes enlightenment, compassion, non-attachment, and overcoming obstacles.

How can we stay grounded while directing our energy upward, letting the unrest roll off of us like the water rolls off of the lotus flower as it’s petals slowly unfold to reveal its beauty? How do we stand up for what we believe to be right, while firmly planted in our beliefs and values? What will we have learned at the end of this year? How will we have grown?