Here I am.
Sitting in Paradise
Breathing the tide of clarity – in it comes
crystal-clear, out it goes,
often muddied by mind –
and I smile as this lifestream flows on
saturating each sensation, yet
paying no heed;
never cocking an eyebrow or casting a vote,
only ever reminding me:
Here I am
here and now
as This, and This and This.
The current version of Paradise finds me staying in a place of great beauty, beside a large lake. This entire year has unfolded as a series of deep retreats. It is a time for, and of, integration. Health issues are being lovingly tended and their emotional causality explored. It’s both harrowing and heart-swelling: Grace delivers whatever is needed, reminding me I signed up for the Full Monty.
Apropos of nothing (I never go fishing) these three small poems landed in my net:
breathing with the lake
Monet-mind beside the Seine
black swans glide by, curious:
pounding the lakeside path
fog hiding the lake
one solitary oarsman
rows through melting space
Photograph taken from my zafu.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
– Mary Oliver
after decades of wondering what I’d be
when I grew up,
what I’d do when I found my ‘real’ work,
what I’d contribute to life that might be of worth,
I tossed the questions to the stars
and gave up
is this typical I wonder?
a symptom of seniorhood?
or does it eventually occur to everyone
that while life is unbearably precious
and untameably wild
it isn’t yours or mine nor ever was
so with hair gone silver and eyes a-twinkle,
I whisper to the beloved poet:
this wild and precious life was never mine to map;
it always had its own agenda, dancing itself
across infinite webs of thought and feeling,
back to its own vibrant womb
and the role it gave itself as miriam
was that of sweeper of the space,
one who clears the mind-droppings, ensuring
no concealment of that fierce Grace
shining, shining through the world’s sorrow and joy
(and the sweeper’s too)
And what will Life do I wonder, with its one wild and precious You?
Image: Kano Motonobu – Zen Patriarch Xiangyen Zhixian Sweeping with a Broom (detail)
Muromachi period 1336-1868. Ink and color on paper.
What I notice when amnesia sneaks in and I begin again to claim doer-ship and control over tomorrow, doggedly pushing on, blindly following the ruts of conditioning and posing as supreme controller, is this:
Something happens to bring me back,
and, probably because I’m a gritty goer,
it happens to my body.
(Arm gets rms: can’t scribble or type,
back goes out: can’t stand at easel,
knee explodes: can’t move.)
Something makes me stop, sit, shut-up
and free-fall yet again
into the what-is of this life I call mine.
That ‘something’ is what I know as Grace.
It’s usually fierce. Definitely not fluffy.
I’ve learned to love it as my most treasured Beloved,
for it returns me to ITself.