Hope Leans Forward, An Evening with Dharma Teacher Valerie Brown

Hope Leans Forward, An Evening with Dharma Teacher Valerie Brown

Discussion date: Thu, Nov 17, 2022 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

The Still Water Mindfulness Practice Center, Opening Heart Mindfulness Community, Washington Mindfulness Community, and Many Faces Sangha are pleased to invite you to a very special evening celebrating the release of the new book Hope Leans Forward, Braving Your Way toward Simplicity, Awakening, and Peace by Dharma teacher Valerie Brown.

Valerie’s book was written during the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement, profound personal loss, and life-altering transitions. The book is grounded in the teachings of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village tradition, as well as the Buddhist Seven Factors of Awakening and the wisdom of Quaker faith. Valerie writes in the introduction:

This book is a response to the question “Where is hope now?” I don’t know, can’t know how things will turn out, but I do know that the process of asking myself this question, of staying true to the mystery of this interconnectedness, of recognizing that love is deeply connected to loss, and of living in service of creating a more compassionate life even when compassion seems very far away is an important intention, value, and direction.

Immense and rapid change is under way and hardwired in daily life. There are no quick-fix solutions to loss of soul, loss of meaning and purpose, loss of hope, racial and social injustice, and climate crisis. Resistance, inertia, confusion, and fear of change are giving way to calls for reflection, courage, and action with purpose and intention. As individuals and as a global community, we are moving into something much larger and deeper. In some ways, this time of global disruption and personal crisis is like following a trackless path or sliding down a hill, losing my footing over and over again as I try to make sense of these profound shifts that have shaped my becoming.

We are being called to braver things, to lean forward into hope and action. Despite it all, choosing hope feels right, makes sense. It’s true I didn’t ask for this mess of losses, complications, and challenges. But at some point, recognizing that loss, that woundedness is a part of life as risk is a part of love, leads me to choose hope as a way of connecting with everyone else who knows about loss and love, and it leads me toward a more soul-filled and hope-filled life. Hope is the resolve to live with a generous heart, to dedicate and rededicate myself, to awaken my soul’s voice at this sacred time of global disruption.

Our evening with Valerie, will include a guided meditation, a learning intention exercise, a short Dharma talk, and an Open Space time to share reflections and questions.

You are invited to join us.

An excerpt from the final chapter of Hope Leans Forward is below following the Still Water announcements.

You can order Hope Leans Forward here. Information about Valerie’s upcoming talks and retreats is available on her website.

Warm wishes and many blessings,

Mitchell Ratner

An excerpt from Bravely Home (Chapter 8) from Hope Leans Forward,
Braving Your Way toward Simplicity, Awakening, and Peace by Valerie Brown

To live bravely in a beautiful and broken world requires that you see clearly. Take off the blinders. Stop running. Stop wishing for things to be other than what they are. Accept this present moment as it is, not reminiscing about the past or fast-forwarding into a yet-to-be-determined future, but instead firmly grounded in now. From this grounding and connectedness, you can explore your values, beliefs, assumptions, and assessments. You can begin to rewrite the story of your life. You can move bravely toward a home within yourself.

Hope, like happiness, as you know, isn’t a constant. It isn’t a place where we set up camp and live forever. Hope, like happiness, courage, and bravery, is a choice. It doesn’t necessarily track what’s happening to our daily life or the external world around us. It is not predictable or constant. Hope isn’t like a degree you hang on the wall and admire. Instead, it’s more like Play-Doh, the kids’ clay-like toy that you smush, squeeze, and mold into shapes. Hope is malleable.

That molding requires our creative work. And to create a life where hope leans forward, we need to have at least three things being shaped in us:

  • Joy, or a sense of your own basic okayness
  • Belonging to you
  • Courage to live your purpose
in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Nov 17, 2022