Monday, September 1, 2014


Everybody loves a chance to start over—a new beginning. With meditation we’re often instructed to return to the breath when we notice that mind has wandered, and begin again. Always fresh. 

But finishing has a freshness too; in fact, knowing when something is finished can feel even more freeing than starting over. The key to this freedom is found in letting something come to a natural close. 
When did this happen?
A renowned meditation instructor once shared how he stopped smoking. He had been on a spiritual journey for years, practicing and teaching yoga, and was still smoking a few packs a day. When he mentioned to his yoga mentor that he must quit, the mentor replied, Don’t quit. Let it give you up. 

I can remember many things that simply ended for me: spending the summers barefoot, fearing the dark, being married. These things died a natural death; they were finished with me. 

Perhaps finishing doesn’t come with the same fanfare as starting something new because it involves surrender—surrender to what we know in our bones as true. It never works to hold on to something past its expiration date, and it brings unhappiness not only to us but to those around us. So maybe when we meditate we could just notice when we’re done with a certain line of thought, a certain emotion, and then return to the breath. 

A wise woman once said that Way Open and Way Closed are really the same thing. I wonder if this is what Christ meant when he said It is finished—that the ending He offered would be a transformative opening.

Summer is now leaning into fall. May this ending land gently for you. 
An end-of-summer butterfly, Wakefield, VA

Late August, by Mary Chivers

It's as if we're always preparing
for something, the endless roll of the earth
ripening us.
Even on the most tranquil
late August afternoon when heavy heads
of phlox bow in the garden
and the hummingbird sits still for a moment
on a branch of an apple tree—
even on such a day,
evening approaches sooner
than yesterday, and we cannot help
noticing whole families of birds
arrive together in the enclosure,
young blue birds molted a misty grey,
colored through no will of their own
for a journey.
On such an evening
I ache for what I cannot keep—the birds,
the phlox, the late-flying bees— 
though I would not forbid the frost,
even if I could. There will be more to love
and lose in what's to come and this too: desire
to see it clear before it's gone.