Monday, August 26, 2013

Celebrate your seasons

There are times to create, to grow, to nourish; these times feel full, rich, and expansive. Other times are concentrated and small, and it feels best to clear out, condense, reduce. In moments that are cold and stark, we may doubt that anything will ever spark for us again. Silent, still times allow for deep listening to inner landscapes. 
Landscape, by Renee
Just as nature has seasons, so do we. Throughout each day, each week, and into the months and years that we call our life, each of us has rhythms that are uniquely our own. It is honorable to recognize these rhythms and to live them as they arise. We can then stop looking for anything beyond ourselves to let us know whether or not we’re okay, if we’re good, and so on. We can stop being embarrassed about who we are.
Good egg, bad egg
It is brave to allow ourselves to be seen throughout the seasons of our life; it may be even more brave to see ourselves. This bravery is something to celebrate. We can celebrate stillness. Celebrate vitality and color. Celebrate having just enough and not one drop more. Such celebration is dignified, simple, without fanfare. We might drink tea from a good cup on the darkest cold day of our soul’s winter. We might raise our face to the sun and breathe in the sky. We might curl our body in on itself on a random afternoon and drift in and out of sleep.
Driveway vacation
Recognizing and meeting our rhythms in a way that is straightforward may be what is meant by living each moment of life. And that’s really something to celebrate. 
Keely rides winter, courtesy of Sam and Murphy

Stream of Life, by Rabindranath Tagore

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day 
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. 

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth 
in numberless blades of grass 
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers. 

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth 
and of death, in ebb and in flow. 

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life. 
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mother Love: A practice in opening to others

There is a practice of considering each person we meet as someone who has been a mother to us at some point: someone who grew us inside her body; sang lullabies; experienced the physical pain of giving birth; fed us, clothed us, taught us the best she knew how; dried our tears; stood over our crib and delighted in our gibberish; watched us make poor choices, and loved us anyway. 
A face only a mother could love
This isn’t a practice of treating others as we would like to be treated. Nor is it a practice of trying to figure out how people want to be treated, and then acting in a way that pleases them. It’s a practice of cultivating an unwavering attitude of unconditional respect and deep gratitude for everyone.
Thank you for loving me when I was lovable, Mom
Have you ever known someone who meets new people with a very guarded mindset? Maybe you do this. The “mother” practice provides an opportunity to meet our fellow human beings with less apprehension, less sizing up. It doesn’t mean that we suddenly act all gushy or become doormats. It is simply a practice that allows us to work on our own attitude so that we might be more pliable, more open in our encounters with others, less quick to dismiss those who don’t act as we think they should. 
And when I wasn't
It can also be fun to do this practice. One evening as I was leaving work, I looked out the window and saw a teen-aged boy riding a bike down the street. I said, “Thank you, Mom.” I didn’t try to figure out how a young boy could possibly be my mother, and I didn’t go out and try to do something for him. I simply took the opportunity to recognize that in his humanness, he possesses a potential for the deep caring and intelligence that we associate with motherhood.

Sometimes I can’t recognize even the smallest bit of “mother” in someone, and in those times I try to imagine the person asleep. Sometimes I even shrink them down to their little baby self, and place myself beside their crib to imagine the rise and fall of their belly as they breathe themselves through the night. 

May we all find ways to care for and respect one another.

When They Sleep, by Rolf Jacobsen

All people are children when they sleep.
There's no war in them then.
They open their hands and breathe
in that quiet rhythm heaven has given them.

They pucker their lips like small children
and open their hands halfway,
soldiers and statesmen, servants and masters.
The stars stand guard
and a haze veils the sky,
a few hours when no one will do anybody harm.

If only we could speak to one another then
when our hearts are half-open flowers.
Words like golden bees would drift in.
God, teach me the language of sleep.