Gauges. Buddhism. Holy Friday. Running.

As I put on my headphones and feel the little puckered holes in my earlobes, I realize I still haven’t put my plugs back into my ears. In a mirror, the holes look like the mouths of hungry children, opening for food. They are rounded, soft, and raw, but almost quiver at the thought of being refilled, as if they’ll burst at too much food. I touch the little mouths again and send up a quick prayer for those same children who have no food, and I think about the large discrepancy between their hunger for food and my comparing my piercings to their pain. It’s a bad metaphor, but I keep it. Then I contemplate how I will manage to get my 1/2″ gauges back through the tight lobes that have returned, over the past three days, to smaller openings. This struggle is waged every other month or so when I take the plugs out of my ears to give them some breathing room. Inevitably, I forget to put them back in, in a timely fashion. Then, when I put them back in, my lobes are sore for a couple of days. As the pain subsides, I forget about the mouths and their hunger. I turn away from thinking about suffering. I move forward, leaving concern behind.

*

Today is Earth Day. Starbucks is giving away free drip coffee if you bring in your own mug. It’s nice.

*

During Lent, I have nearly read four books about spirituality. Along with almost daily readings in the Bible, I have completed The Joy of Living (Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche) and An Altar in the World (Barbara Brown Taylor), and I am halfway through Rebel Buddha (Dzogchen Ponlop) and Love Wins (Rob Bell). Reading these four books together, has made me more of a heretic than I already was before Lent. I’m not a dense person, but I just don’t see how Buddhism and Christianity are incompatible teachings, as so many of my more conservative friends seem to need to persuade me to think. I suppose if you adhere in a fundamentalist fashion to either spirituality, you’d not be able to reconcile them. However, if you look past the literal, the overarching message of the two spiritualities is one of love and compassion, in which the believers, celebrants seek to leave a lasting impact of positivity and non-suffering on our world. I have a hard time seeing how these two do not work together. Prayer bleeds into meditation, daily professions faith bleeds into daily practice of compassion, enlightenment bleeds into sanctification, and the eightfold path bleeds into the Sermon on the Mount and the two most important commandments. I think both religions would agree that you should increase love and compassion, while decreasing worldly attachments. I feel no conviction that they are not compatible, as hard as some of my friends try.

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Today is also Holy Friday. I am not going to church. Instead, I am going to watch the youngest pseudo-stepchild perform in the play, King Lear. I am immersed in Shakespeare. First, my students have been reading Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer Night’s Dream. And now King Leer. This is an excellent way for me to celebrate Holy Friday. I need something to take my mind off of the fact that Jesus is dying today. Sometimes I get so bogged down in the holy mysteries, I can’t see outside them into the beauty of the world. And, I suppose that is how it should go. At this point in the Christian calendar, I should be consumed by grief, and I should be contemplative about the fact that in whatever way, I did this to Jesus. It’s good, though, that we will be taking in a show instead of participating in a Good Friday service. I need the distraction. I need make believe.

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May 7 is the Indy-Mini. Am I ready? No. Absolutely not. I think I may just run the first six miles and then leisurely walk the last seven. We’ll see.

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