Unusually long and hot weather spell in Ireland these last weeks, after our harshest winter in decades, The land is getting quite parched and water restrictions are in place. So we, who normally complain about the lack of sun in the Summer, now complain of its presence. Another example of the either/or dynamic which pops up so frequently in our thoughts and of the constant daydreaming that things should be different. This famous koan from the 9th Century Chan Master Dongshan challenges us to be completely with whatever is happening, without always placing it beside an alternative:
A monk asked Dongshan, “When the cold visits us, how can we avoid it?”
Dongshan said, “Why not go where there is no cold?”
The monk asked, “Where is the place without cold?”
Dongshan said, “When it is cold, let the cold kill you. When it is hot, let the heat kill you.”
Blue Cliff Record Case 43: Dongshan’s Cold and Heat
The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
The Celtic stories suggest that time as the rhythm of soul has an eternal dimension where everything is gathered and minded. Here nothing is lost. This is a great consolation. The Happenings in your life do not disappear. Nothing is ever lost or forgotten. Everything is stored within your soul in the temple of memory. Integration is a vital part of coming home to yourself. Camus said aptly that after one day in the world you could spend the rest of your life in solitary confinement and you would still have dimensions of that day’s experience left to decipher. Every human heart seeks meaning; for it is in meaning that our deepest shelter lies. Meaning is the sister of experience, and to discern the meaning of what has happened to you is one of the essential ways of finding your inner belonging and discovering the sheltering presence of your soul.
John O’Donohue, Anam Chara
Take your busy heart to the art museum and the
chamber of commerce
but take it also to the forest.
The song you heard singing in the leaf when you
were a child
is singing still.
Mary Oliver, What Can I Say
I believe deeply that the seasons have a great deal of spiritual wisdom to offer us if we make space to listen. They teach us of the cycles and seasons of the earth and of our own lives. We are invited into the movements of blossoming, fullness, letting go, and rest, over and over again. Just like the lunar cycles of the moon’s waxing and waning, so too does the body of the earth call us into this healing rhythm. As the northern hemisphere enters the season of blossoming we are called to tend the places of our lives that still long for winter’s stillness as well as those places ready to burst forth into the world in a profusion of color. It takes time to see and listen. Around us the world is exploding in a celebration of new life, and we may miss much of it in our seriousness to get the important things of life done.
Christine Valters Paintner, Abbey of the Arts
Spring and all its flowers now
joyously break their vow of silence.
It is time for
celebration, not for