I realize I have been living in a state of grief. Grief for the loss of the lad that I once was, and for the green countryside of rural England where I grew up; grief for the insults to the body proffered by old age; grief for opportunities squandered along the way; grief for the America that embraced me sixty years ago and is suffering so grievously today; grief for the loss of civility and mutual concern between fallible human beings; grief for the young lives lost at the Texas school last week and for the families bereaved; grief for another needless war in Europe, for the lives lost, for the threat of renewed global conflict; grief for the very planet that we so mistreat…

The grief is endless. Used to searching in meditation for that place where I hold such feelings in my body, I found it everywhere this morning. Used to being able to witness the impermanence of such feelings and using the breath to let them slip away, as feelings do, I found this particular feeling to be stubborn, stubborn and pervasive. It has been with me for much longer than I have been aware of it.

I found solace this morning in the exercise of an old strategy: substitution. In substituting gratitude for grief, I was finally able to escape it. I have much to be grateful for. For family first, and friends, for the material comfort of my life, for my own personal freedom from the sources of suffering that beset so many others. Grateful above all to have found the refuge of the meditation practice, where I can clear my mind and find solace in my heart.

The grief will return, as feelings do. I know this. Even the feeling of gratitude has its own impermanence. But it will do for now.

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