The pond at Buttonbush Bridge is a magnet for me. My friend, Linda, and I are going to spend a week in silence during the first week of July at a nearby Jesuit retreat center. I am drawn into silence more and more deeply as the time approaches. I have done ten day word-fast retreats in groups before and with Richard from time to time, but this is the fist time I am going only with one friend to a place neither of us have been. Since we declined their proffered religious instruction, we will be totally on our own, in our private side by side rooms, sharing silent meals with others. Linda and I have yet to sit down to make loose plans together.

There are beautiful grounds surrounding the facility, with woodland trails that I doubt I will be able to access using only my rollator for stability. We need to agree on signs- Do you want to walk outside after lunch? Do you want to sit together this afternoon? Do you/I need a hug if we are stuck and are going through a hard time? How are you doing?

My personal choices for myself abound as well. Hopefully the facility will respect my vegetarian- no gluten diet as they indicated, and I don’t need to bring any food. My biggest focus for this retreat is about releasing the wordsmith in my brain. I’d like to get to a point where I can sustain longer periods of time without words constantly naming, labeling, judging, reporting, and shaping my experience. That is a real challenge for the writer in me.

We all have quiet moments after vigorous activities, both mental but especially physical, when we lean on our rake, or knees, or desk, and simply stare out into the space around us. We are not particularly focused on anything, we just allow the quiet reflective moment to be. We don’t have to report to anyone but ourselves in those times. They are restful and nourishing and complete in and of themselves.

Meditation is like that for me. Lately, I find that as I practice sitting in meditation, I am less and less interested in the thoughts that stream by. They are there, but I am on a different wavelength below them. If I am caught by a daydream, I find I am simply less concerned about how it turns out, and drop it like Alkaseltzer into a glass of water. The fizz doesn’t even grab me anymore. The sound track dissipates into silence.

For that reason, sitting by the pond is as close as I can get to an open sky, gentle stillness, and absorption in something other than myself. It only takes a few minutes to get my “pond eyes” working. There are no big dramas; only very small ones that are revealed as I become more still.

Buttonbush Bridge Pond

Bodiless swans

feather the breeze

cottonwood tree puffs

skid along the surface

edging delicately down

to the algae mats

Small birds appear to

walk on green carpets

fluttering along twigs jutting up

between water soaked roots

A single frog glurks

another croaks repetitively

triggering a belching circumference

amphibian territories

rounding off into silence

Ripples

subterranean turtles

water striders

the swift dip of a bird wing

gentle circles of doomed cottonwood seeds

Like a watercolor painting

stillness beneath

blends

stillness within

I take the landscape with me when I go.

3 thoughts on “Water and Spaciousness

  1. Oh, Judi, this is lovely – and the blog looks great! I think this is a new look for it?

    Oh how I wish I could quiet the words in my brain – constant stream of them. I haven’t learned how to meditate because I don’t know where to start – I’ve tried sitting in silence and concentrating on my breathing, but the constant scroll of words, like Times Square, distract me and I end up thinking about the most mundane things – should have cleaned the fridge yesterday, gotta wash the floor, did I mail that check?

    Maybe I’l start by memorizing your poem and reciting it silently in my head! I so envy your upcoming retreat. May it prove peaceful and serene.

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  2. Thanks so much and I suspect that walking meditation might be a good way to start when we have brains hardwired for constant restlessness! I am lucky I have always had a deeply quiet interior self. Practice over 40+ years has begin to inform me and I am so grateful to see glimpses of the abundance of silence.

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