It has to be more than 20 year ago now. I was at the very beginning of my journey, just starting my spiritual quest, wanting to live a more mindful and or religious life. I went on a Jewish Buddhist retreat. One of the first things the organizers had us do as we entered the retreat center was choose, without looking, from a large bowl, an angel card. I waited in line anxiously, wondering what would be revealed to me, listening to those in front of me announce, declare, celebrate the words they received. You see, we were supposed to focus on and meditate on the word we were given, bringing the essence of the word’s meaning into our lives and living out that message. Someone got love and another harmony. A third ended up with joy and a teasing titter rippled through the crowd about how didn’t we all want to cultivate and contemplate joy in our lives. And then it was my turn to choose. I reached in and swept my hand around and then grasped onto the card that felt thrust by some unknown, unseen power into my hand.
I’m pretty sure I didn’t have a clue what to do with that one. I spent the rest of the retreat feeling disappointed and somehow cheated and very confused and maybe even a little punished. Yet all these years later, I’m still chewing on, still grappling with, still trying to figure out what integrity really means and how to foster and cultivate it in my life. The concept of integrity has been a companion and a guide, a sometimes inconvenient catalyst for so very long.
At first I thought I had to have an end goal of the me I wanted to be and work toward achieving that goal and then and only then could I integrate that person with the way I lived my daily life, therefore achieving my beloved, elusive, even mocking integrity. But that was and is a useless endeavor. Because I realized I have no idea who I want to be or who I have the potential to be or who I am already. Heck, I think I’ve stated here more than once, I don’t even know what I am never mind who I am half the time.
Last year was certainly a year of growth for me, a year of learning and discovery. A year of change and awareness, comprehension, and appreciation. I guess I’d like more of the same in this coming year. My hope is that I live with and wrestle with and choose integrity every day. I pray that I am afforded opportunities for that growth and honesty and sincerity (with the wish that those opportunities be gentle teachers as opposed to harsh ones). And may I share the fruits of my labor graciously, joyously, lovingly, generously with those around me. And on the days when I fail, may I have the fortitude and determination, a sense of humor and maitri (compassion for self) to pick myself up and start again.