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Deepest Gratitude to My Irish Friend

Published on 30/07/21
by randy

So much of life is about balance. The weather tries to balance as pressure systems move in and out. We can feel the restlessness of the human spirit, the turbulence that comes into the body from a restless mind. And our spiritual teachers provide us with wisdom on how to come to balance. In Hawaii they called it “ho ohponopono”. It translates into “bringing things back to balance“. I reflect upon those relationships that were more wounding than others. Those wounds fester with infection when we hold onto our stories and refuse to get bigger than what we think the problem is. Spiritual wisdom says “the problem is never what we think it is“. Our only task is to break through the illusion of separateness. When we can see that we are each other we humble ourselves to the only appropriate response, that of curiosity, love and an honest desire to understand. 

Personally, I had a great teacher who helped me navigate through some of my more challenging relationships. I see a lot of this going on today as we appear to polarize, separating ourselves from others, carried away with fear and greed. The Buddha has said this is the natural human condition. This restless mind that forever can be captured by conflict and turmoil is challenged to find balance, stability and uprightness in the face of attack, in the face of entropy and general “dis-ease”. 

Dick Donohoo may be one of the greatest lawyers I’ve ever met. He recently shed his body and his brother presided as priest over his funeral. During his eulogy he asked us to think of different people with those virtues or traits that defined them. The priest said his brother’s dominant traits were “justice“ and “joy”. While we had different views of the world, Dick and I shared a curiosity to go deeper. We respected the differences we had and recognized we were part of a team graced to each other. If it weren’t for Dick, his brilliant mind and creative genius, our company, The House, would not exist. He not only crafted a brilliant plan that allowed us to move forward, but for five years he stewarded me through multiple court hearings and challenges. 

He then guided me through an extremely difficult partnership challenge within the company and later through another property partnership challenge. Both of these challenges came from dear friends and further challenged the spiritual mandate to break through the illusion of separateness. Our best friends are the most skilled at pushing us off balance, pressing the buttons to take us out of alignment into a desire to fight.

 As in any conflict, each perceived side creates its own story and builds upon it. As we build our stories, holding our static thoughts on what is “right“, we lose our flexibility. Our rigidity then makes us more vulnerable to fall… to break. We tend to become more reactive rather than ‘practicing the pause’. Through all of my legal challenges, Dick mentored me on holding balance and joy, always looking for the gift in the given. For every 30 emails I wrote he probably only let me send one. It became extremely clear that the more we refined the question, the less we defended our position, and the more we queried into a deeper understanding of the other side, the faster we progressed.

Every year for more than a decade I invited Dick to celebrate the conclusion of one of our conflicts on September 9 at The Dock Café in Stillwater. A little over a year ago he was diagnosed with leukemia. This happened at the same time the coronavirus was spreading around the planet. The restaurant had to close. Dick passed a couple weeks ago and the restaurant is still closed. When I met with him last spring after his diagnosis I had expressed my deep desire to have one more meal with him at this restaurant. On the day of his funeral I was drawn, compelled, to go to that table where we sat last and play “Danny Boy“ on the trumpet. We’re always trying to come to balance. We’re always challenged to break free from the illusion of our separateness. We’re always challenged to carry deep hope, a bigger hope, in the face of violence, greed, fear and general restlessness which is just part of the human condition. As I review the tremendous gift this man gave me I’m fed to break through the chains that come from my ego’s restlessness and anger. The only genuine response that feeds Big Hope is love, forgiveness, gratitude, and reflection upon the lessons learned from the most difficult rivers of life we’ve traveled.

I recall one spiritual teacher saying, “Our life’s work is to find and deepen our posture”.  In yoga, “asana” means “balanced posture”.  The gravity of a lifetime of wounding experiences makes this difficult without a dedicated spiritual practice.  We can build spiritual security as investment for holding posture and balance in the face of challenge and uncertainty.  Like the reeds that bend in the wind and wave, we hold a deeper grounding from the roots below.  Big Hope is never losing the felt truth that we belong, are never alone, connected, and always supported.  As the lyric of Danny Boy attests, we are loved, have always been loved and always will be loved.  Only love is real and that’s the truth we struggle to remember as we repeatedly succumb to the suffering that comes from conflict, fear and greed.

Danny Boy played on the empty deck of Stillwater’s famous Dock Cafe.

Lyrics to “Danny Boy”

Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountainside,
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling,
It’s you, it’s you must go, and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow,
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow,
Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow,
Oh, Danny Boy, oh Danny Boy, I love you so!

But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying,
If I am dead, as dead I well may be,
Ye’ll come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an Ave there for me;
And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me,
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,
For you will bend and tell me that you love me,
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me!
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me!
Come to me!

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