A path forward

by Heather

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A manual for human beings … Should be read by every person alive. –Boston Globe, reviewing Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom

I used to consider it a great luxury to stay up late, reading to the end of a book. As I did so Friday night and Gracie tried valiantly to herd me to bed, I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve indulged.

Last night’s book was Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. I’d bought it some time ago, and initially got bogged down in the childhood and early adulthood chapters. I took it out of the bookcase a few days ago and got down to the part I was really interested in–the activist years, the trials, his philosophy, resistance techniques, imprisonment, and finally (after an unimaginable 27 and a half years), freedom.

I hadn’t originally found the book to be a page-turner, as the cover blurb tells me the Los Angeles Times Book Review did, but Friday night it certainly was, and after a difficult day at work, I was happy to immerse myself in a world of far greater challenges than mine.

The impetus for reading the book started when I went out of town for a few days last weekend. I’ve noticed that when I do, I seem to receive an extra measure of guidance when I meditate. Last weekend, it came to my attention that it would really serve me to be as absolutely free of resentment as I possibly can be–and that I wasn’t there yet.

As I pondered this over the next few days, Nelson Mandela, whom I’ve long admired for the quality of forgiveness and magnanimity that seems to me a huge theme of his life, came into my mind. And so I picked up his memoir once again.

As I put the book down at 2:30 am, I realized a 40-minute meditation wasn’t going to happen. I decided to meditate for 5 minutes or so before lights out. I usually invoke an angel or ascended master when I meditate, and though I wasn’t sure whether he technically qualified, Mr. Mandela seemed the obvious choice. So I asked for his assistance in releasing all resentment from my mind, spirit, and body. As I mentioned my body, I was surprised to feel an unpleasant weight lifting from the pit of my stomach, which is still gone as I write, and a lovely sense of peace descend.

I went to bed at 3 am, feeling that I could see a path forward in my own immediate journey.

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