A nice poem for a rainy Saturday.
Her capacity to see wonder in nature, and in life, no matter what the weather, was extraordinary
the rain spoke to me
to come falling out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,
smelling of iron,
and vanished like a dream of the ocean
into the branches
and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing
under a tree.
The tree was a tree with happy leaves,
and I was myself,
and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves at the moment,
at which moment
my right hand was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars
and the soft rain—
the wild and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.
Mary Oliver, Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me
A Japanese Zen story about responding to whatever happens in the present moment with acceptance, or about observing troubling emotions with kindness. Like all of these stories it functions on a symbolic level, challenging us to open up to new ways of living when faced with surprises and disruptive situations:
The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbours in the village as one who lived a pure life. Then a beautiful girl in the village became pregnant. Her angry parents demanded to know who was the father. At first resistant to confess, the anxious girl finally pointed to Hakuin, whom everyone revered for his pure life. When the outraged parents confronted Hakuin with their daughter’s accusation, he simply replied “Is that so”
When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a outcast by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child. It was now his responsibility. He said simply “I see” and calmly accepted the child.
For many months he took very good care of the child until the girl could no longer withstand the lie she had told. She confessed that the real father was a young man in the village whom she had tried to protect. The parents immediately went to Hakuin to see if he would return the baby. With profuse apologies they explained what had happened. “Is that so” Hakuin said as he handed them the child.
Hakuin Ekaku, 1686 – 1769, was one of the most influential figures in the history of Zen.
The Japanese, Sōdesu ka, translated normally as “Is that so” can also be rendered as “I see”
Looking East today, to mark the Chinese New Year, with a similar idea to yesterday’s post
Among the sixteen types of meditation, the baby’s practice is the best.
YuanWu Keqin, Chinese Chan monk, 1063–1135
We have a tendency to live out of the past and to limit different experiences and the people we encounter today to what we expect of them. In this way we lose any sense of wonder or newness
The day you teach the child the name of the bird,
the child will never see that bird again.
Abba Poemen said about Abba Pior that every single day he made a fresh beginning.
Sayings of the Desert Fathers
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning
John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us
Today is Candlemas, so I could post about light and darkness, as the days begin to noticeably lengthen in the Northern Hemisphere and hope returns. But instead, sticking with an idea in yesterdays post, different tradition:
Every blade of grass
has a constellation in the heavens
that strikes it and says, ‘Grow! Grow!’