Always rushing somewhere else

Only 22 shopping days till Christmas….

Along with the speediness we have the sense that there is not enough time. It’s interesting to observe how often we are living with that perception. It is usually accompanied by a squeeze of anxiety: “I’m not going to be prepared,” and a chain of insecurities. “There’s something around the corner that is going to be too much,” “I’m going to fall short,” “I won’t get something critical done.” There’s this sense that we’re on our way somewhere else and that what’s right here is not the time that matters. We’re trying to get to the point in the future when we’ve finally checked everything off our to-do list and we can rest. As long as this is our habit, we are racing toward the end of our life. We are skimming the surface, and unable to arrive in our life. When we’re speeding along, we violate our own natural rhythms in a way that prevents us from listening to our inner life and being in a resonant field with others. We get tight. We get small. We override our capacity to appreciate beauty, to celebrate, to serve from the heart.

Tara Brach, Gift to the Soul: The Space of Presence

Endings and beginnings

In the Christian liturgical calendar tomorrow is the last day of the year, with a new year starting on Sunday in Advent. All wisdom and religious traditions give guidance on how to work with the passing of time, how to celebrate fully and be complete in each moment which we have. This text is from the Stoic philosophical viewpoint: 

Let us prepare our minds as if we had come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books every day..The person that puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.

Seneca,  Moral Letters, 101, 7b – 8a

 

When life bruises us

This morning the storm is fully evident, cutting electricity, disrupting ports and airports, blowing people and things astray, and causing damage. Storms of life…

One afternoon as I folded laundry, we heard a terrible thud against the patio door. I turned in time to see blue wings falling to the ground. A bird had flown into the glass. The children followed me outside. I half expected the bird to be dead, but she wasn’t. She was stunned and her right wing was a little lopsided, but it didn’t look broken – bruised maybe.

The bird sat perfectly still, her eyes tiny and afraid. She looked so fragile and alone that I sat down beside her. I reached out and brushed her wing. I sat beside her, unable to resist the feeling that we shared something, the two of us. The wounds and brokenness of life. Crumpled wings. A collision with something harsh and real. I felt like crying for her. For myself. For every broken thing in the world.

That moment taught me that while the postures of stillness within the cocoon are frequently an individual experience, we also need to share our stillness. The bird taught me anew that we’re all in this together, that we need to sit in one another’s stillness and take up postures of prayer. How wonderful it is when we can be honest and free enough to say to one another, ‘I need you to wait with me.’ or ‘Would you like me to wait with you?’

Finally she was finished being stillShe cocked her head to one side, lifted her wings, and flew. The sight of her flying made me catch my breath. From the corner of my eye I saw her shadow move along the ground and cross over me. Grace is everywhere I thought. Then I picked myself up and went back to folding the laundry.

Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits

Learning to bend

The first very cold night of the year here and strong wind and rain expected later today.  Ancient wisdom for dealing with the changing weathers of life: 

All things, the grass as well as the trees,
are tender and soft while alive
When dead, they are withered and dried.

Therefore the stiff and the rigid are companions of death
The gentle and the kind are the companions of life

Lao Tzu