It's a hard journey for each of us to learn that if we touch one thing completely, it will give us access to everything. We run all over the world, trying to achieve as much as possible, to love as many people as possible, to go as many places as possible, to have as many conversations as possible, to save as much as possible or spend as much as possible. But sooner or later, beyond all seeking, we run into some obstacle or light, are stunned, knocked down. And once on our knees, we finally stop, our face toward the Earth, to touch where we are, to feel where we are, to know we are here and all that this means.
Mark Nepo, The Endless Practice, Becoming Who You Were Born to Be
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Friday, February 12, 2016
Local conifers are never brighter or spicier than they seem to be in late February and early March, and their resilience and cheerful demeanor are teachings to be assimilated and remembered. Here and there in the snow, evergreens lift their lavishly crowned heads toward the sun, and their blue-green tint and spicy fragrance are sure fire harbingers, signs that longer days and brighter times are just around the corner.
The first deep snow arrived a few days after Yule, then came village plows carelessly tossing clouds of white stuff over hedgerows, spinneys and solitary trees with careless insouciance. We have been on the receiving end of heaps and heaps of snow this winter, and we can reasonably expect a fair bit more to fall before the end of March.
For all the winter weather still to come, evergreens in the woods are nodding their heads and sending out a heady perfume that hints at a tantalizing and (hopefully) imminent change in the seasons. The conks (bracket fungi) on trees along the trail wear caps of snow, and their branches are strung with melting icicles enclosing tiny red buds and snippets of blue sky. No question about it, the trees on the Two Hundred Acre Wood are readying themselves for springtime, and they simply cannot be dissuaded from expressing their enthusiasm.
The words resilient and resilience come from the Latin resiliēns, meaning to leap back, and we use them often without ever thinking about their essence, about what they really mean. When something is resilient, it exists in a state of innate balance and buoyancy, possessing the happy faculty of springing back or rebounding to its true self or shape after being subjected to abuse, adversity, unnatural compression or a long cold winter.
That sounds like Buddha nature to me.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Go out into the weather-beaten world
where straw men lean on frozen fields
and find the cardinal's scarlet flash of wing,
a winter heart, a feathered hope.
Without a camera or a memory,
we travel these old country roads,
turn corners like the pages of a book,
enchanted by the ordinary life
of fields and rocks and woods,
of small wild creatures stirring in the brush.
We take home pockets full of myths
and wonders seldom seen.
We will not give up easily,
Across the breakfast table
in our precarious nest,
we make those promises keep on going
that no one ever keeps. And yet...
there is the cardinal again,
a finial on our old gray fence.
Red is for Valentines.
This morning's poem is reprinted with permission from Dolores Stewart's gorgeous volume of poetry, The Nature of Things.
Tuesday, February 09, 2016
Little things leave you feeling restless in February. You ramble through stacks of gardening catalogues, plotting another heritage rose or three, new plots of herbs and heirloom veggies. You spend hours in the kitchen summoning old Helios with cilantro, fragrant olive oils and recipes straight from Tuscany. You brew endless pots of herbal tea, sunlight dancing in every china mug.
You play with filters, apertures and shutter speeds, entranced (and occasionally very irritated) with the surprising transformations wrought by your madcap gypsy tinkerings. Camera in hand or around your neck, you haunt the woods, peering into trees and searching for a leaf somewhere, even a single bare leaf. You scan the cloudy evening skies, desperately hoping to see the moon, and you calculate the weeks remaining until the geese, the herons and the loons come home again.
It may not seem like it, but change is already on its way. The great horned owls who live on the Two Hundred Acre Wood are now building their nest in an old oak tree about a mile back in the forest and getting ready to raise another comely brood, and it makes me happy to think it is all happening again.
This morning, a single delicately frosted leaf was teased into brief flight by the north wind, and it came to rest in the birdbath in the garden, bearing in its poignant wabi sabi simplicity an often and much needed reminder. This is the sisterhood of fur and feather, snowy earth and clouded sky, wandering eye and dancing leaf. Out of my small and frost rimed doings, a mindful life is made.
Sunday, February 07, 2016
We make our way between the dramatic and the subtle, between the horizon of our dreams and the particular shimmer of living them. We look and sometimes see, listen and sometimes hear. We sleep, dream, and bring something back into the world. Our charge is not to isolate and judge the parts we find, but to champion the Physics of the Whole.
We are not bereft when sleeping, we are en route. We are not untethered when dreaming but mining the core. We are not out of order when naming wonder where we find it, but breaking ground like a flower. Like sunlit threads in a spider’s web, we are lumens connecting everything. How does this happen? No one really knows. But our job as ethical beings has always been to outlast what gets in the way and to bring what is inner out.
And so, in the tumble of my days, I work not to be defined by the glare of the light or the veil of the dark but to be in conversation with the particulars that live beneath them, so I might wake in the aliveness that has no history.
Mark Nepo: The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be