Keep knocking

doorIt must be said that things do not always work out as we would like. This teaches us patience and trust.

However, sometimes we get news of  reward after long effort that is richly deserved. We don’t expect it, find it hard to believe,  and yet –  as Heaney says –  it is like a gust of wind that can catch “the heart off guard and blow it open”. This teaches us the unforced nature of  joy:

Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about giving up from work.
Water is there somewhere.

Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.

Rumi

Getting a balanced life for Christmas

Today the Christian Liturgy starts to sing the O Antiphons –  ancient prayers and aspirations, used over the centuries in the days before Christmas. The first of them wishes that we may grow in wisdom at this time of year around the Winter Solstice, when the days are shorter and nature quietens down, and we reflect on the priorities in our lives. In many old traditions, wisdom was a quality in the person which was so desired and special that it was seen as coming down from above. It was greatly treasured – the best gift one could get in these days –  because it gives a perspective and purpose to life and led to contentment.

It is good for us to remember these things when the talk  is all about gifts, and getting, and happiness.  Mindfulness meditation has two aspects  – it grounds us first and then leads us into a felt insight into the marks of reality, namely, that it is always changing and that even the importance we give to ourselves is a constructed, fluid one. This wisdom or perspective is worth cultivating,  as it tunes us into a deeper happiness, helping us to maintain our personal boundaries and not overstretch ourselves. It helps us to not link busyness or constant doing with  our sense of worth, and stops us filling our days with so much activity that we have no space to sense whether we are truly fulfilling our deepest needs. Real contentment comes from within –  from getting a balance in our lives and seeing things clearly.

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other,
and softly putting order in all things:
Come and teach us the way of balance.

Searching for a home

beach 44

There is an internal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for  its outlines all our lives.   Some  find it in the place of their birth; others may leave a seaside town,  parched, and find themselves refreshed in the desert.  There are those  born in rolling countryside who are really only at ease in the intense  and busy loneliness of the city.  For some, the search is for the  imprint of another; a child or a mother, a grandfather or a brother, a  lover, a husband, a wife, or a foe.  We may go through our lives happy  or unhappy, successful or unfulfilled, loved or unloved, without ever  standing cold with the shock of recognition, without ever feeling the  agony as the twisted iron in our soul unlocks itself and we slip at last  into place.

Josephine Hart