Amida Sheffield

Love and Happiness

by Amida Sheffield

From Bhaktika & Sundari

Both of us have been a bit in hibernation, having had a visit from a virus all over the Christmas season which put us in bed for a week. A low energy time in a number of ways. But some amazing and wonderful moments.

Perhaps the most inspiring and extraordinary was just before Christmas, when we went to the funeral of a boy just over two years old. We have followed the story of his short life, which had turned out longer than anyone expected when he was born with a rare, incurable and progressive illness. We asked ourselves, what is the meaning of this short life? The letter written to Sam by his father and read at the funeral, gave the answer. Here is an extract:

‘Dear, dear Sam

How can I find the words to say goodbye to you?  I’ll try and be as brave as you have been, because I want to tell you how much we have loved you and go on loving you.  We will never stop loving you, little man.

I want to thank you Sam, for making us feel so proud.  You must have laughed a million times in your short life and with each laugh, every chuckle, every gummy smile, you have made me feel as big as our house and like I must be the best dad in the world.  I know I wasn’t but I am the proudest.  When you woke in the mornings and you smiled at me, I felt warm for the rest of the day. 

When you sang our silly songs with me I thought the world should stop and listen and when you drummed your tune, I, like you, thought the world should applaud.  You were a super musician, Super, Super Sam.

Thank you Sam for showing me how its possible to live in the moment.  You never worried about any time but now.  If I showed you your coat you would wave and dance with excitement, and when we arrived home you would beam with pleasure.  You loved being taken for a bath, you loved being taken out of the bath.  You reached for every toy I held for you.  You didn’t want to miss a thing.  You squeezed a century’s happiness into twenty-eight months by just enjoying whatever you were doing and not worrying about tomorrows.  You squeezed a century’s happiness into my life too, my wise little man.

We shared so many walks you and I, little boy.  My foolish mind was so often already past our destination, and on some other task.  But then I would glance down and see you delighting in everything in front of us.  The sunlight, sketching shadows in front of your pram, a rain drop pulling down a leaf, clouds collapsing above the distant hills.  You’d turn your head and smile up at me and made me realise I didn’t want to finish our walk.  You slowed me down and stopped me rushing to do nothing important. I felt that I could walk forever with you.  Nothing was ever as important as being with you my wise little boy.  When I walk now I will feel your touch as I pass out of every shadow; every falling rain drop will echo of your voice and every cloud will remind me of you waving ‘hello’.  But it will never be the same without you my son.

Thank you Sam for teaching me how much better it is to love than to resent.   Sometimes, too many times, in looking after you, we had to do things to you that you didn’t like.  But no matter what we did, or how we hurt you, you forgave us instantly.  You never hesitated to get on with being happy.  Bitterness never once entered you little heart or crossed your beautiful face. You showed only love and gratitude.  I didn’t realise how love was made until you showed me that you just have to choose to give it.  You gave out so much love our house was full.  I want to be like you my wonderful boy.

Thank you for bringing so many amazing people into our lives, you adorable little boy. I didn’t think that there were people so kind, so generous, so skilled. Even when you were in that frantic hospital, everyone stopped for you, from cleaners to consultants; they all made an exception for you. You got people to break rules by breaking their hearts. I know it was something about you, but it is something inside them too. How did you bring these great men and women to us? How did you find people so special that they ripped up diaries, gave up sleep, that they worked so hard and that they worked so gently?’

There is more. It is a wonderful letter. No-one there (about 80 of us) could fail to be moved by the boy who was often near death, was always connected to tubes and tapes and did not contemplate a future, but had ‘squeezed a century’s happiness into 28 months’ and drew great love out of others, making ordinary people into great ones.

We wanted to share this.

Namo Amida Bu

Faith and the Environment Conference

by Amida Sheffield

From Sundari

Thanks to everyone for the greetings sent on my birthday (Wednesday)- it was lovely to hear from you all. I had a great day. We spent it at a conference in Sheffield on Faith and Climate Change – Bhaktika’s brainchild from a year back which had come to fruition.

It was organised jointly by Sheffield Faiths Forum and SHEBEEN (Sheffield Black and Minority Ethnic Environmental Network). Bhaktika and Maxwell Ayamba co-chaired the day. Brief perspectives on climate change were given by Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Pagan contributors. These were wonderfully distinctive and inspiring. It seemed obvious why we need so many different faith traditions in the world – or if you like – why there are 84,000 doorways to hearing the dharma. Each presenter almost glowed with a different facet of what moved and inspired them.

Julian Briggs and I gave a Buddhist perspective, and then led a workshop on Buddhism and Climate Change, which was very well attended and very well received. We based it on Joanna Macy’s work on connecting with our feelings about what is going on on the planet and thus connecting with each other, and our energy for action. Although it was only a brief taster, people engaged very fully and it was worthwhile.

After feedback from the workshops – also fascinating and diverse – the highlight of the day for me was hearing Heather Hunt speak about the People’s Summit, which was going on in parallel to the official climate talks at Copenhagen. Heather is an engaging, lucid and passionate speaker. In the face of no deal – the official talks were a failure – and the crisis which that entails, the people’s summit was vibrant and creative, creating a coalition of people’s movements from the global South, Northern climate activists and non-governmental organisations. Of particular relevance to us at the Faiths conference – representatives of faiths from around the world committed together to address the spiritual issues underlying the crisis. (My summary!)

73 people attended – the conference was fully booked and more came on the day!

The feedback has been that it was the ‘start of a journey’ – and it certainly felt like that. The depth of engagement was remarkable,and there was a strong desire to find practical ways forward and to address the spiritual realities of the situation.

To complete the birthday story – Bhaktika and I went to see Avatar – a very suitable end to such a day.

Solstice refuge ceremony

by Amida Sheffield

On December 21st at 6pm we will be holding a ceremony in which a regular member of the Sangha will take the five refuges.


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