A severe weather system is passing over Ireland, with heavy snow forecast, causing a lot of concern and even, panic buying of bread in the supermarkets. A change in the normal circumstances causes uncertainty and reveals that, deep down, we think things should always remain the same. Instinctively, we seem to try to make some moments last forever. Nature teaches us that no matter how much we wish or try to control things, tomorrow may not look the same as today. Changes in circumstances in life, like the weather, are a given; happiness – or unhappiness – comes from our response to that given.
High winds do not last all morning
Heavy rain does not last all day
Why is this? Such is Heaven and Earth!
If heaven and earth cannot make things eternal
Why do we think it happens for us?
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Human life itself, the mystery of being thrust into the world by birth and swept out of it by death, is an imponderable puzzle, one that we can try to ignore but cannot escape. So much of what passes for ‘ordinary’ life is, when seen through different eyes, not ordinary at all, but full of potential for spiritual learning. To practice the koan of everyday life means to confront every situation as though it were a profound spiritual question.
Lewis Richmond: Work as a Spiritual Practice. A Practical Buddhist Approach to Inner Growth and Satisfaction on the Job.
It is heaven itself to take what is given,
to see what is plain
Mary Oliver, Daisies
The Joy that isn’t shared,
Anne Sexton, from Welcome Morning
Sanctuary is wherever I find safe space to regain my bearings, reclaim my soul, heal my wounds, and return to the world as a wounded healer. It’s not merely about finding shelter from the storm: it’s about spiritual survival. Today, seeking sanctuary is no more optional for me than church attendance was as a child.
Sometimes I find it in churches, monasteries, and other sites designated as sacred.
But more often I find it in places sacred to my soul: in the natural world, in the company of a trustworthy friend, in solitary or shared silence, in the ambience of a good poem or good music.
Parker Palmer, Seeking Sanctuary in our own Sacred Places
Merely to say the same thing twice — language is language — how is that supposed to get us anywhere?
But we do not want to get anywhere.
We would like only, for once, to get just to where we are already.
Martin Heidegger, German philosopher, 1889 – 1976