"One of the most powerful lessons I have learned from my years of great interest in and respect for Buddhism is the exquisite idea of "taking refuge".
This means taking comfort and strength in and from the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (teachings) and the Sangha (community).
And many of us need reminders that we are more than bodies, troubles, efforts - even more than thoughts, aspirations and inspirations. We can take refuge in that something "more", also.
How we think about these deepest questions of who and what we are - and how we bring meaning to our daily challenges - truly shapes us. Perhaps it creates us, at least to some extent.
It seems to me to be as hard as it has ever been to remain positive and hopeful about our human family. We see so much suffering in our world. We may be feeling so much suffering in our own lives.
So where do we take our feelings about this? How do we do better than "survive"? How do we flourish, grow, appreciate, cherish?
I certainly rely on my own version of the Three Jewels: on the unconditional love and acceptance that comes from God; on the inspired teachings that come to us from every direction and across time, calling us to courage, care and love; and yes, on community.
That means, the community of our human family - the world in which we are a part - as well as the smaller, precious, better known, intimate communities of family, friends, work, ministry, music, discoveries, retreats, engagement.
Within each setting that daily life brings us to, we are contributing to dynamic processes of "giving to" and "receiving from" that each of us will do in our own way.
As we grow more conscious of our choices, though, we will more easily recognize where we are replenished. And how we can more effortlessly replenish, cherish or support others. Giving to. Receiving from.
Each time I speak honestly with a truly mutual friend, sharing thoughts and opening our hearts with care and respect, I know that I am receiving one of life's greatest blessings.
Each time I "come across" yet another poem or prayer that expresses the unsayable, or hear music that goes beyond words, or am touched by something in nature, I know that I am receiving one of life's greatest blessings.
Each time I embrace or listen to my little grandchildren, I know that I am receiving one of life's greatest blessings.
When I pause to give thanks for the beauty of the everyday moments that make up my life, I know that I am receiving one of life's greatest blessings.
Each time I remember that I am - however often I forget this - an eternal soul, living in a very human body (!), I know that I am receiving one of life's greatest blessings.
I deeply hope that something in these words is itself for you a "refuge". Peace today wherever it is needed. Blessings today wherever they are needed."