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Oh, Those Lights!
Finding Your Inner Peace
By Joanne Russo

Iíve tried it all -- yoga, Hindu chanting, Christian and Zen meditation, retreats, you name it.Iíve explored the whole shebang.Iíve trekked across Thailand. Iíve climbed temples in Indonesia and Mexico.†† Iíve had a great time.Iíve met amazing people; experienced the inexplicableÖbut, I never found ITÖTHE ANSWER.

Iíve gone to classes with the Dalai Lama, attended a Mass presided over by Pope John Paul II and sat through a remarkable guided meditation with Sufi teacher, Pir Zia.I got so much out of each of them. They all had their sparks.They were each the real thing.†† But how can they be?†† They were three different, deeply spiritual men from three corners of the planet.They were each clothed in their particular holy man get ups, had their own holy man personal assistants and each a take on the world that made complete sense, although what they said was differentÖwhat then is IT all about? What is this crazy life on Earth?†† Nearly all of us sense that thereís something else, something beyond, but what is IT? If IT is, doesnít IT have to be always and everywhere?

You canít open a newspaper or watch TV news without wars and religion writhing shamefully together into your consciousness.It makes me shy of them all. People take ancient scriptures and claiming devotion pick at them, interpret them until they suit their own agenda.Iím not interested in that.I am interested in knowing what IT is, for real.†† What is true divinity?

I remember being a little girl and watching my Grandma Eva in front of her silver candle sticks.She was tiny and the flames were just below eye level on the dining room table.†† She would have been rushing around for hours, stirring soup, making kugel, baking challah, intense, determined.†† But, Grandma Eva knew what IT was.†† She knew IT in her unwavering identity as a Jew. Not for a second did she ever think that maybe IT was better understood on a mountaintop in Nepal than in an apartment over the candy store in Brooklyn.

When, all the cooking and cleaning was over; when the family had all gathered in the dining room and with a piece of lace covering her head she would strike a match that quieted the world.Immediately, I could see IT on her face.Everything else evaporated.†† Iíd see the glow encompass my mother and father, my brother, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and even my Grandpa Harry.†† IT was there with us, simply and exquisitely and she my little Grandma Eva invited IT in.I could feel IT, not knowing if anyone else could.

My Grandma Eva has been gone for about twenty-five years now and you know I still havenít found a way to predict when IT is going to reveal itself enough that I can really study and embrace IT.But I do know this, I have lit candles on Friday night in more places than some people can name, and while I still donít know the answers to the big questions of this universe, I am grateful that I have been blessed with even a glimpse of IT on some kind of regular basis.

Joanne Russo is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. You can read her journal at FridayLights.org.

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