Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Ramble - Stillness

Ah, sweet stillness... it's an old word dating from before 900CE, and it comes to us through the Middle English stilnesse and the Old English stilnes, both describing a state in which one is quiet, peaceful, balanced and motionless.  There is also the Old Saxon and Old High German stilli, the Dutch stollen meaning "to curdle", and Sanskrit sthānús meaning "immobile".

It's difficult not to think about stillness at a time of year when wild cousins are about to head south or find nice warm caves and sleep until springtime rolls around again. Birds like geese, loons and the great herons fly south for the winter.  Bears, frogs, hedgerows and old trees hibernate and dream their way through the long white season.

Implicit in this week's word are notions of tranquility, rest and connection, an inclusive flowing that takes in our befuddled human selves and the cosmos around us. The late John Daido Loori, a renowned photographer as well as a Zen abbot, wrote that every other creature on the face of the earth knew how to be quiet, but that humans seemed to have lost the ability to "simply be present in the stillness that is the basis of our existence."  The mundane world is one (by and large) of noise, haste and stress, and we need stillness now and then if we are to complete our journey, creatively, fruitfully, and without going bonkers.

If this place is about anything at all, it is about stillness. Woodland wanderings, sheaves of mediocre photos, wordy meanderings in the wee hours of the morning, all are merely shaky efforts to be still and be present, located in every breath I take and rooted in the world where I was planted this time around. Geri Larkin calls the process "stumbling toward enlightenment" and that is what it is—slowly tottering toward a place of joyous being that evades description and feels just like home. She also wrote that it is our job in life to dance with our whole breath, our whole body, the whole world, the whole universe. Though this part of the journey is rough going at times, there is joy around here, and there is a fair bit of dancing (sometimes just lurching about) too.

Once in a while, something luminous shows itself in a few bars of music, through a cluster of trees or as a dancing presence between one raindrop and the next. Call it kensho or momentary enlightenment—there's elemental magic at work at such times. It's being in tune with clouds and water and hillsides strewn with rainbow-colored leaves. It's Vivaldi's The Four Seasons or Bach's Cello Suite No.1 on the CD player as the day begins and aromatic cups of Darjeeling at sundown.  It's a pocket full of acorns and my red shawl, the blue pottery bowl of Macintosh apples on the sideboard, rosy and fragrant and a perfect expression of autumn in all her glory. I can almost hear the little dears singing, and I suspect they trip the light fantastic when I am not looking.

6 comments:

Guy said...

Beautifully Said

Guy

Barbara R. said...

Ah, I almost skipped reading you blog because of need for speed out the door. Glad I tarried and ingested this peaceful vision. May I quote your "The mundane world is one..." sentence on my Facebook page?
If so, thanks.

My Journey To Mindfulness said...

Wonderful...

Riognach said...

Blessed Mabon! Wholeness and sweetness to you in this harvest season!

kerrdelune said...

Of course you may quote me, Barbara, and thank you for wanting to do so!

Barbara R. said...

Hope this Mabon finds you enjoying the love and health and beauty and intelligence and prosperity that you share with us here daily!