Monday, November 26, 2012

Go Placidly Amid the Noise and Haste

I set out for a walk but the blustery gusts give me pause.  Brrrr....  Since I'm trying to shake a lingering cold, I decide to abbreviate my route.

At the Highland Street pond, a new owner has shorn an overgrowth of shrubbery on the property, exposing the house in a naked sort of way.  A tumbledown stone wall is being precisely rebuilt.  But they also stripped the pond of surrounding shrubs and trees, so now the herons only have a few clumps of tall grass to hide in.

The pond narrows to a waterfall which flows under the street and out the other side.  The stream meanders through wooded backyards, swift or sluggish depending on the rains.  As I approach, I see a heron standing vigil where the underground culvert opens into a small pool.

With the leaves fallen, it's easy to spy her in time to pause.  She is the exact blue gray as her tangled bramble backdrop.  She blends in like a piece of driftwood caught among clotted leaves dammed up by slender fallen birches.  I approach quietly.  Although she doesn't appear to notice me, I know she knows I'm there.

She is standing in profile, all scrunched up.  I take a silent step closer.  She is putting on a show of utter disinterest, but I know the moment I get too close, she'll fly away.  I can see every individual feather of her  slate-colored wing.  The precise, fan-like pattern looks like an example of sacred geometry.

One more cautious step.  I wonder, where is her neck?  Where does her long, slender neck go when she hunches up like that? She looks braced against the cold too.  

With one more step, I'm as close as I can get without getting wet.  Just then, she stretches out her neck, drawing herself up to her full height.  I see that her neck was folded back so as to rest on her "shoulders." Before she looked guarded, now she looks regal.

I surmise that  elongating is a prelude to flight.  But she simply strides away, one long leg in front of the other, right down the middle of the stream, leaving a rippling V-shaped wake behind her.

What kind of a wake do we leave?  Is it chaotic and breathless? Or is it placid, attentive, aware, like the heron? Unperturbed!  She is utterly unperturbed by me.  I respect her space; I ask permission before coming closer and she gifts me with a simple lesson that brings peace.  Through the lens of my heart, I see her as an embodiment of Mother Nature, the Spirit of the Earth, who bestows grace when we open to the gift of what is.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Moon in the Morning

Last night we set the clocks back, so tonight, or rather this afternoon, dark will come early.

I find myself resisting it.  And lots of other stuff too. 

I have a troubling, ongoing dynamic in my immediate circle.  Trying to be discreet here, honoring privacy and so on -- but also trying to be honest with myself.

So on my walk this morning, my intention is to let go of resistance to a certain person.  To let it drain into the Earth with every footfall. 

I make my way around to the dock.  Because the sky is a brilliant azure, the water  is sky blue and  inky navy.  The light breezes are at cross currents today. Further out, the wavelets are blowing northward, while closer in they're leaning south.

I sit cross-legged on the wooden slats, my back to the sun.  A disseminating, three-quarter moon floats high in the sky this morning, about 9 am.  It looks like a crystal satellite.  Even though I can only see three quarters of it, in truth, it exists whole, complete, round and full.  The rest is hidden from my perception by the shadow of the earth.

So, in keeping with another truth, as above, so below, I  close  my eyes and look within, at my resistance.  I know that what I have so much trouble accepting in another person is the very stuff I'm likely hiding in my own shadow. 

What are these traits  that I can't seem to abide in another?  Neediness. A need to control.  An expectation that when she has a need, everyone will drop everything and trip over themselves to meet that need.  When this doesn't happen, the need becomes a demand and then things really get ugly.

Hoo-boy!  This is the fun part! 

Breathing ... letting my resistance drain into the Earth.  The Great Mother accepts it with grace and compassion:  it's fuel for transformation.

So, I ask myself, am I needy?

Answer:  of course!  But do I show it?  No. 

My neediness is tucked away in my shadow, where it won't inconvenience anyone.  I cover it up with a persona of self-sufficiency. I'm low maintenance, don't worry about me, I'm fine

Sometimes this is true, but sometimes it's bullsh*t.

Moving on to control.  Do I like a sense of control? 

Who doesn't? 

When things are beyond my control I get anxious. 

I'm learning to surrender to what is.  I'm flexing trust like a  muscle; it  strengthens the more I rely on it. 

But can I always go with the flow, not knowing what's out there?  Nope.  I prefer a guarantee before proceeding with anything risky or whose outcome is unknown.  But where can you find a guarantee like that?  It doesn't exist!

So yeah, let's concede control is an issue. 

Do I have everyone running around meeting my needs?  Hmmm, this one's not so obvious.  The sun is bathing my back, melting my resistance.  I let it go with every breath.  The waves gently slap the stony shore. A leaf-blower drones in the distance.  Three snow-white swans sail across the lake, leaning into the wind like the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria on their way to a new world. 

And I see that yes, it's possible other people are getting tired of meeting my needs.   In some ways, I'm high-maintenance, having set exacting standards not just for myself but others too. 


Moment of humility.  Tears fill my eyes.  And I hear those words again:  fuel for transformation.  Self-awareness is fuel for transformation.

It feels like this person who has exasperated me for so long has been holding up one of those mirrors you see at the carnival -- your body might be short and squat but your head is three feet tall and pinched.  She's reflecting a distortion.  It's me, wearing a mask of self-sufficiency, an image of placidly going about my business like a Zen master, when in truth, I have legit needs and a desire to wrap my mind around things that are messy and complicated.

The world is still spinning on it's axis while I admit these things that I have judged as flaws and banished into my shadow. By accepting them instead, I release their power to haunt and taunt me.  They just are, without the negative charge.

In this way I am like the moon in the morning.  Part of me is hidden in shadow, but in truth I'm whole, complete, round and full.  I reflect divine light and it contains All.