It's a necessary practice, and one we engage in annually because it is so healing, because it is so uniting. And not just uniting us with each other, but with ourselves, with the cellular memory of what it was like, once, to be taken care of and loved utterly and without condition.
Like so many of you, up here in Maine we've been living shoulder to shoulder with this arctic seat of weather. After a weekend shuttered indoors, I clamped on my ice trackers, my big coat, and finally, finally got outdoors for fifteen minutes. The sun--even in that persistent cold--was such a reassuring presence that I could finally see sun as mother, sun as father, sun as nudger-along and protector of life.
The light is returning. We owe it to this celestial clockwork to pay attention and to be gracious as often as we can spare the time, the warmth.
We can despair, justifiably, about the state of peace on earth--after all, it is the season in which we invoke such worldwide compassion through tradition, through music, through giving. But let me ask you this--are you at peace with yourself?
I know I'm not, rarely anyway, and it seems at best fruitless, at worst hypocritical, to wish and work toward universal peace when, some nights, there's just no sleeping with myself. And I think, if this is me, one small person pitched up in the far north of one country, what sample am I representing? How many of us work and work toward unconditional love and universal compassion while grinding our own gears, unlubricated by that same generosity of spirit?
And it's not that our efforts are absolutely ineffectual, not at all--we do feel compassion, we do feel oneness--but how much more powerful could we be if we could only apply that respect, that devotion, that appreciation to our own small selves? And talk about measurable effect--whe...
It's impossible to know how it will all come together--all these dreams and wishes in spite of all these so-called realities and fears. And since we're such terribly cerebral creatures, we try to plot it all out--and when we can't, we try anyway. It's like we sweep off the doorstep for anxiety every morning. Trust me--he doesn't deserve such fastidious housekeeping.
A teacher once said to me--how does water return to stillness? It does nothing. This, too, is the only way the heart can return to stillness--by doing nothing.
It made so much sense that, of course, I promptly forgot it, recalling that snippet of wisdom only in times of already-existing stillness. But I'm putting it down here now in the hopes that I'll remember--when you don't know how to get back to center, do nothing. Return to stillness. Let the rest fill in around you.
It's ironic, I suppose, how much time I spend wishing for faith. I guess, like so many of us, I have this reverse, perverse sense of faith--not the assurance that everything will be well, but the quite firm expectation that it won't. If faith is the belief in something despite lack of evidence, then my rather pessimistic version of faith fits the definition, I suppose. After all, if you're reading this and I'm writing it, then our success rate at this life business, at least, is 100%.
And then I wonder if it's not faith I lack, but happiness? Buoyancy? Ease? Maybe that's it. Maybe I, and my fellow seekers, simply vibrate and hum at the bottom of the scale? Perhaps we are what grounds the melody, giving it space and footing to sweep higher than we can reach, letting the sweetness and light of the song trickle down. Perhaps we're meant to gather what falls, internalize it, transform it where we stand.
I don't know. I don't know how it works, how the light returns, but it does--every year....