Gelassenheit – letting go ii

I’ve seated myself upon a bench at the end of our long and narrow cottage flower garden twice today. Sunlight from east and west alike brought August touch of gold to flower and vegetable, as to the beady eyes of goldfinch, sparrow and thrush, and oddly to crystal clear remembering a January day’s Gelassenheit and being “carried on a current”.

Benches. In gardens, parks, religious meeting houses in all the world’s traditions. There’s something about benches – perhaps the relatively upright sitting position – that slows the breath and brings us, before we’ve had time to think about it, into the realms of reflective contemplation, of yesterdays, present and tomorrows, and occasionally into aforementioned clear recollection. Pretty much word for word. Tonight I wonder what might come again to mind, letting go, in composure, on the garden bench tomorrow. And why?

Hereunder, today’s returning:

January 11, 2016

In our egotistical age the “information superhighway” fills our heads with loud images about past, present and future. We’re kidded into believing that life, or “Higher Power”, requires us to have fixed, personally owned and defended opinions about pretty much everything. A high road to hell on earth: there’s nothing super about this dualistic forgetting that everything – including thinking – is transient.

Wind in my wheels whilst out on my bike is truly life-enhancing because the attention and balance required brings me fully into be-ing in the present, and into presence. Cycling, or rowing, or silently praying, or just plain “being open”, release me from the felt obligation to settle on opinions and the breeze ushers me instead into truer experience of simply be-ing.

Really, how preposterous it would be to suggest that my opinions about anything at all are one jot more than just that: opinions of the moment, thoughts that will make themselves known for a while until they’re replaced, as they most assuredly will be, by more thoughts and opinions – the latest ones just as ephemeral as their predecessors.

And the benefit of an open-minded provisionality? Well: be-ing, or allow-ing, enables the letting-go of all the baggage and guff that gets in the way of creative, lov-ing and joyful, useful liv-ing. And letting go frees us from the gargantuan pilgrim backpack that, because we grow used to it, unconsciously depresses and oppresses our souls.

Life’s call to be-ing urges us from within to attentiveness, to open-minded, open-hearted, open-spirited prayerfulness – or put another way, to a patient observation or watchfulness, or yet another way, simply to openness or what sages have called non-attachment. Pilgrim progress. “Carried on a current”. Bonnie Thurston helpfully reflects:

Prayer is not
scrabbling together
a few paltry words,
flinging them like stones
at the windows
of ineffability.

It is Gelassenheit,
letting go,
being carried on a current
toward a vast ocean,
deep beyond imagining;

sitting silently,
gaze firmly fixed
on one golden,
inscrutable face,
with the patience of love;

pouring out life,
that alabaster vial
of costly ointment,
at the feet of One
who washes others
with His tears.

Prayer is
asking nothing,
desiring nothing
but this,
only this.

Bonnie Thurston
in Lost in Wonder, page 52
Esther de Waal

Neither opinions nor adherence to religious or philosophical traditions are required, nor historical allegiance, nor attention hogging thoughts about tomorrow. Life, and love and prayer, are simply here, now. Each and all of us are invited – and if our loving attention has been teaching us anything at all we’ll see only sense in allowing ourselves to sit light to opinions – ours as well as those of others. Better wind in my wheels, that listeth where she wills.

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