Sunday, October 26, 2014

Quiet Thoughts

Now, when the leaves of deciduous trees are great splashes of color against faded blue, when the air at noon is still mild and hazy, when a few small birds still search the roadsides for seeds and great swirls of starlings paint designs in the evening sky, now is the moment to relax into the quiet,

If I had to choose just one thing to believe in, it would be change. No matter how slowly it comes, change is the one constant. I see it most clearly at this time of year when the leaves turn from working green to carnival colors before falling to sleep at a tree’s feet. There is mimicry in our human doings – those of us who watch nature match our feelings accordingly, slowing our activities and our thoughts so that we can get a good look at ourselves, at our bare bones of belief. Our own horizons widen.

Mostly we are human doings, not human beings. Frenetic activity suggests a purpose. The seasonal change from summer to fall puts us on notice that there is worth in slowing down, taking stock, using rest as a repair shop. We are reminded that we are individuals in a group, that we have our own shape and a singular reason for our existence.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Autumn Winds

In spring the winds blow up from the south, shepherding warmth to the coldest regions. In autumn, quite the opposite. Down from the north they sweep like cleansing brooms, pushing into every crevice, scooting the leafy remnants of summer into the center of the yard before flinging them to the four corners. Autumn’s winds are high winds, bully winds. They push through the clouds, scattering them, then swoop down to shake the trees, spinning multicolored leaves in spirals or great golden bursts.

There’s a distinct coolness underlying the winds of October even when they blow the warmth of the sun directly in your face. On them you can detect a hint of bitterness, of ice, and through them you can hear summer calling farewell from the treetops. Wood smoke and a faint hint of leather are borne on these winds. The cries of the geese travel on them, and the haunting sound of the hunting owl.

Autumn winds are not lullabies, as summer winds tend to be; they seek instead to push, to harry, to agitate. They are pillaging winds, forces of change that can stroke your cheek with warmth one moment and slap it the next with a hard, cold hand. The seasonal wheel turns, the winds blow. Autumn’s balance of August heat and November frost will give way to January’s shivery cold but for now the winds play both sides of the game, blowing warm one day, cold the next. It will be a long time before they speak again of spring.

Thanks, Hilary!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy Moments

Eckhart Tolle, who is listed by the Watkins Review as the most spiritually influential person in the world talks about "naturally arising moments of pure pleasure." Using that idea as our prompt, my Sunday morning writing friend and I recollected what my daughter and I like to call 'happy moments,' those times that come upon you and lift you from the mundane world of thought to the astonishing world of no thought. Here's my take.

I sit and watch the finches at the feeder thinking first that I am glad I thought  to replenish the seed, then noticing the sheer beauty of the birds themselves, the soft blush of red on their breasts, the way their feathers make black and brown patterns on their backs, the small perfectness of them, and as I watch, the noticing falls away and I am left with something so much larger that a wee feathered finch, a recognition of what Eckhart Tolle calls “naturally arising moments of pure pleasure.”

The sun backlights the yellow leaves on a maple. I can get lost in that light, let it shower down over my shoulders, fill my eyes, wash me with color until I am the yellow leaf and the sunbeam and the very air I breathe.

I can nestle my hands deep in the fur of a dog, gaze into its eyes until I fall in, lose all my senses except how my fingers feel, and my palms, until I am the dog and the hands and the otherness and sameness at once.

If I lie on your back in a meadow and stare at the sky I can fly, rising up from myself and floating down to myself simultaneously. I become sky and earth until the sheer weighted weightlessness feels like home.

Naturally arising moments of pure pleasure can be sought, but I like them best when they descend without warning, when my hands are covered in hot sudsy dishwater and my mind has wandered away from itself into a place where soap bubbles are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen or when I’m holding a sleeping child and the weight makes my arms tremble but my mind stills itself like the sleeping babe and we breathe in tandem, sharing waking and sleeping dreams.