New energy is pulsating within me and in my work as Spring brings forth the fecundity of the living earth. Amidst the stress of what is unfolding in our political scene, I find great comfort in the beauty that abounds from the sound of birdsong to daffodils; from the decomposing leaves waiting to be raked from the beds to the a splattering of St John’s Wort peeking through the soil—ripe with the smell of humus. The earth is indeed alive and “so much is in bud” to quote Levertov.
On Monday, I changed the altar cloth to yellow in the studio in celebration of Spring and in honor of Saraswati. Resting here in the center, holding her veena (string instrument) she is the Hindu goddess of learning, wisdom, and the creative arts. Now is an especially fruitful time to create as Mother Earth brings forward her beauty. No matter where you are, there is some piece of beauty at hand. A stone, a flower, an apple, a leaf, a bird….listen….look…breathe.
“From too much love of living,
Hope and desire set free,
Even the weariest river
Winds somewhere to the sea–“
But we have only begun
To love the earth.
We have only begun
To imagine the fullness of life.
How could we tire of hope?
— so much is in bud.
How can desire fail?
— we have only begun
to imagine justice and mercy,
only begun to envision
how it might be
to live as siblings with beast and flower,
not as oppressors.
Surely our river
cannot already be hastening
into the sea of nonbeing?
Surely it cannot
drag, in the silt,
all that is innocent?
Not yet, not yet–
there is too much broken
that must be mended,
too much hurt we have done to each other
that cannot yet be forgiven.
We have only begun to know
the power that is in us if we would join
our solitudes in the communion of struggle.
So much is unfolding that must
complete its gesture,
so much is in bud.
New Year’s by the fire savoring Mary Oliver’s new volume of poetry, “A Thousand Mornings.” Like many of you, I ritually take time contemplating the year’s end and visioning the new one ahead. Journaling the highs and lows both professionally and personally. Recording the memories of a life. Exploring deeper questions around the meaning of existence. A process that often feels contradictory as I ponder the notion of time as invented by humankind. After all, the trees, the birds, nor the moon experience the same yearly passageway (with all its expectations) on December 31st. Nature reminds us daily of the transformative cycles of life and, through her beauty, offers us the gift of presence. Like art and poetry, both likewise bring us into the present, which is all we ever truly have. For me, balancing intentions with present moment awareness can provide some inner peace no matter where this journey takes us in 2013. May you be blessed this day, and every day.
Have I lived long enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough, have I
come to any conclusions?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?
I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.
Actually, I probably think too much.
Then I step out into the garden,
where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,
is tending his children, the roses.
from Mary Oliver’s new collection of poems “A Thousand Mornings.”
Listen to the deeds of Kuan Yin
Responding compassionately on every side
With great vows, deep as the ocean,
Through inconceivable periods of time,
Serving innumerable Buddhas,
Giving great, clear, and pure vows…
To hear her name, to see her body,
To hold her in the heart, is not in vain,
For she can extinguish the suffering of existence.
From the Buddhist Lotus Sutra