A dear friend’s birthday today. I sent her an ecard– poor substitute for last year’s flight to New York and in person hugs and kisses and chatting with her friends and family– but so it is in these times. Love is boundless as we know, as is time, though that last bit is harder to believe. What we know on an everyday stage is that time flows from the past through the present into the future. Mostly, we spend a great deal of time going backwards or projecting forwards from where we are right now. To stay in the right now takes practice, and even after fifty years of meditation, I find it challenging to stay still in silence.
I am profoundly grateful that sometimes Silence blissfully rises up as an almost impenetrable barrier to accessing the non- stop flow of brain processing. But every sit is a different one and sitting with open expectation is forever spacious and non-specific. Now I go to zoom my Buddhist meditation group. Today I just hit the potential of deep quiet when the hour was up. So it goes. I heard the rain splattered against my window in this windy weather. So my thoughts splattered against that momentary ceiling of quiet. Passing and gone.
Thoughts “good” or “bad” slide on by. One thought I had was that all living things share the movement of oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of their bodies. Whether it is in the air, within and on the land, or in the sea, this is true for ALL living things. The simple act of paying attention to every breath is our binding connection to life on earth. Breath itself is neutral, and the movement of that bodily exchange is going on sleeping or waking, for as long as we live. The last gasp is literally the end of our sojourn on the planet. Inside that thought I felt that I was being breathed, which is a familiar sensation/realization and always comforting to experience. To know that in this moment all I need to do is pay attention to each breath becomes such a refuge. I will make that phone call, read that article, connect with this or that person, eat my lunch- but not now. Now I am only focusing on that inbreath, that exhale, and the next and the next. Simple difficult work but with such rich rewards.
I wrote to another friend that anchoring in Love is what I work at every day. I am anchoring in my heart so that I am not drowned in statistics but can stay open to acknowledge the loss of the thousands of humans who have departed en masse from our world due to this virus. I felt seen and so moved by a poem sent to me by another friend doing the same work we all are while we safely find our groceries, cook, clean, use our computers, stay physically fit, and keep breathing every day.
Everything is beautiful and I am so sad.
This is how the heart makes a duet of
wonder and grief. The light spraying
through the lace of the fern is as delicate
as the fibers of memory forming their web
around the knot in my throat. The breeze
makes the birds move from branch to branch
as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost
in the next room, in the next song, in the laugh
of the next stranger. In the very center, under
it all, what we have that no one can take
away and all that we’ve lost face each other.
It is there that I’m adrift, feeling punctured
by a holiness that exists inside everything.
I am so sad and everything is beautiful.