… and I wonder whether you can ‘see’ what I saw this morning? Visual imagery within the context of space – indoors or outdoors – is among the gifts to my life I most prize. The more I learn about the imagery my eyes and brain work together to produce, the more I find myself in awe of what it is to be a human person. Gifts – like this rainbow, and all the thoughts of ‘promise’ that our stories about rainbows represent to us – just keep arriving in our lives, unannounced and unexpected. Again and again the spiritual teachers of humankind encourage their fellows to ‘look within,’ and eventually we come to recognise that doing so is an absolute prerequisite for our appreciation of ‘looking without.’
Each season bears unique joys to us. There’s a mellowness about late summer / early autumn here that I’m always grateful for. A softening of the light. A softening succession of reflection at both morning and evening. A softening awareness of the importance of home – wheresoever ‘home’ may be for us at any given time.
Wildflowers have attracted hundreds of bees and butterflies so that the garden is full of the hum of satisfied pollen-seekers quietly going about their business. I’ve revelled for half an hour this morning in recalling a lovely Instagram photo I saw recently – of two replete bees, sleeping in the soft petals of a poppy, two of them together, because apparently they like to hold each other’s knees and feet while they sleep! Who knew? And the butterflies speak silently of the complex metamorphosing journeys they’ve been on. And so do I.
The red squirrels are stocking up supplies and I feel close to them as I stack the log store with sweet smelling kiln-dried ash for the stove. Occasionally split logs are reunited – or at least seen close to each other again – and their rings speak of their story too, and I wonder where the engineered oak boards of my little sitting room once flourished elsewhere, and from whence came this ash, knowing how well it will scent and warm home until it becomes whatever comes next.
The slant of the early sunlight illuminates the promises of the morning – and asks to be remembered should tomorrow be a grey day. And the colours of the garden flowers prompt thoughts of harvest – and especially, this morning, somehow, of the warm scent of harvest bread from a distance, far away …
Evening meals begin to move away from salad-stuffs, turning towards the more substantial – buttered and minted potatoes, greens and steak pie.
And after brisk walks, lungs full of fresh air, and daily reacquaintance with the long backbone of the Pennine Ridge and the Ullswater Fells – sometimes under mist and sometimes mirage, autumnal movement towards books and the piano again. The gentle, slow clip-clopping of horse and rider passing my window suggest that they, too, are inclined less to rush today and more to a quieter, calmer contemplation.
I know these gifts are important, and reasons enough for profound thankfulness in a world which is also beset with fear and wonder, a sense of separateness – between one human and another, and between humankind and other life forms too. I ask myself in late summer to make time to be aware of others – near and far, in peace or fear. I seek to be more aware of the gift of the breath in my body, and in every body. I wonder in awe at the sleeping holding of the bees’ knees, and the instinct that directs a red squirrel’s calendar. I celebrate the ‘I see!’ miracles that unfold into sunlight from the incomprehensible depths of wildflower seeds, and the life-story record written in the rings in trees.
And you and I contemplate the cyclical dying, and the rising of the light … 🌻🍂☀️
Sometimes the stories of
the garden of our lives
are written in ink or
by ribbon or toner and
instrument or flight-capable
Sometimes the stories of
our flowering and light
are written in soft breath
gossamer touch, sunlit
thread, the sudden
resurrections of graces
we’d thought might be quite
Sometimes the stories of
images arise in our hearts
the aching loves and the
false starts and the hopes
and aspirations turned, as on
a wood-artist’s lathe: formed
And so day by day I return
to the garden to be still –
howsoever the stories are
inscribed, however revealed
my spirit knows that in this place
simple, silent and smiling –
Responding to tonight’s tragedy, Berlin Police requested via Twitter that streets be kept clear for emergency services and that people ‘do not spread rumours.’ Good counsel. For as though the incident is not tragic enough, some of the stories we rehearse in our heads are worse.
Tittle-tattle poisons. Abetted by constant media chatter, swept along by an inchoate racket, we struggle with disconnected stories we tell ourselves. Fearful, we know we are living under par and seek quick answers. For the umpteenth time, we imagine apocalypse come upon us.
We must learn to quiet our rumours. Enter the universal gift of meditation – stilling over-active ‘monkey’ minds. Mental chatter is often no more than unconscious shrieking – ungoverned swinging from one thought-branch to another. Conscious observation is required.
Meditation to the rescue! As we learn simply to observe the fantastic tales authored in our heads, we equip ourselves to deal with the actual stories of life. Quietly watching the ticker tape of thoughts that do not require reaction or response preserves energy for those that do.
Meditation trains us in the practice of discernment. Imagined stories teach our brains to live in life’s real stories – but it is only the actual ones we need to act upon, not the ticking ticker tape. We are not required to know, still less to act upon teacher’s passing thoughts on her way to class.
We need not waste energy with rumour. Meditation keeps mental streets clear so that we deal better with real life. Anyone, anywhere, here and now. Universal – neither guru nor joining fee required – meditation affords the gift of quiet consciousness, and befriends it.