When you go for over three months without writing a blog post, sometimes it’s best to just sit down with a blank page and start writing. So that’s what I’m doing now.
Let me start by saying I have an idea that resulted from a couple of observations over the course of a couple of days.
Here’s the first one: I was riding my bike to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park for an early evening hike and some mountaintop mediation, and was waiting for the cross walk to signal my right of way so that I might safely walk my bike across the intersection at rush hour. There was a little old lady, literally, behind the wheel of a car waiting for the turn signal so that she make a left hand turn. The timing of the light was such that she didn’t get the turn arrow, but yet she still had a green light which of course meant she could turn providing there was no oncoming traffic. In the fraction of a second that she hesitated, a middle aged man behind her furiously laid on his horn. This was a crowed pedestrian intersection at rush hour and this guy felt like he would help the situation by blasting his horn at the elderly lady in front of him. She turned, clearly frazzled, and he tailgated right behind her, his fuming face as red as a tomato. I can only hope his road rage subsided.
Here’s the second one: I was reading in my local newspaper, the Marietta Daily Journal, about a mosque that is opening in what we locals call West Cobb. If you’re reading this post from outside of the Metro Atlanta area, let me just provide some context for you. Cobb County, Georgia is, or maybe I should say was, among the most “conservative” counties in the country – the former home of such historical conservative political heavyweights as Newt Gingrich and Bob Barr it was also the county that was blacklisted from the 1996 Olympics for its county commissioner’s embarrassing and now infamous anti-gay resolution. So while the influence of a burgeoning Kennesaw State University and of corporate citizens like Home Depot are certainly bringing more progressive thought to the area, the county still remains, if not blood red, certainly a healthy shade of rose. Given that, one might expect some serious pushback to a mosque opening in this neck of the woods…but alas, this is not the case. The founder of this project, Amjad Taufique, is candid in his understanding of how Muslims are perceived and is aware of the public relations challenges that accompany their movements, so he has gone above and beyond to ensure that this mosque is a good neighbor. And if the lack of protests are any indication, what Amjad has been doing is working.
So those two ideas have been bouncing around in my brain: the quick anger of the general public and the idea that there should be places for people of all backgrounds to go and get their spiritual refill. There are a lot of angry, frustrated, deluded, stressed out, depressed, and hurting people out there and it would seem that affluence is not an antidote. The pursuit of happiness for so many has become an exercise in continued dissatisfaction. Maybe we need to try something different. In the interest of starting something, the project I’m considering is a sort of mindfulness center where people of all religious backgrounds or of none at all, can comfortably go and meditate, reflect, and contemplate without any expectation of coercion, guilt, or judgement. A place to find peace and to practice the techniques that help us understand the contents of our own minds (and the games that it plays). A place to hear talks on a wide range of intellectual, scientific, and yes, spiritual topics, unladen by any pre-existing dogmas or new age hocus pocus. A place from which to organize and spearhead meditation retreats, nature hikes, and community service projects. Ultimately, a place to practice awareness of our emotions, an awareness that helps us to avoid becoming puppets to their whimsy and influence.
Let me know either in the comments section on through the Contact page if you have a place near you that fits this description. I would love to talk to someone who has either started a mindfulness center or who attends one. Stay tuned.