Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

the winter of loss ~

I’m reading Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart. She notes that death makes way for birth, and that birth follows death.

In my family, we’ve always believed (a kind of Oklahoma folk belief :)) that when one passes, another comes. One of my grand-nieces was born on the anniversary of 9/11. She was born while my mother lay dying.

And certainly there are, as Chodron reminds me gently, all kinds of births that result from metaphorical death: the loss of a job may be the beginning of possibility, for instance. A move from a beloved home may be the  doorway into a new neighbourhood, w/ new friends.

I’ve written often about loss, about the inadequacy of words (and yes, poets feel this, too). About the unavoidable sadness. About grief ~

But two deaths later, and the knowledge of how loved ones are (literally) at loss, I remain uncertain what to say or offer. I send cards, when I know an address. I post virtual comfort to Facebook. And I listen to music, as we do when words fail us.

So what I am sending to loved ones today, winging over the friend network, is the promise of spring. On an early March day, when temps hover near an unseasonable 70˚ and sunlight is as clear as creek water, spring is tangible. Winter is a bad dream, and there is infinite promise in the soft air. The hawk is sitting quietly in the park, just sitting in the sun. And the daffodils have returned to stand watch by the front door. Hard winter is a faint trace of mud on the deck.

Nothing lasts. Not life, certainly. But not grief either. Somewhere, right now, a cotyledon is splitting, sending a tap root down and a thin green shoot. Soon there will be flowers. And the pastel prance of spring. Then the vivid tumult of summer, and fall, and the cycle repeats. It’s a good thing to remember.

 

teaching the teacher: a roller coaster ride, reprised ~

More than a year ago, I was offered this amazing (but intimidating!) opportunity: write a blog for a national website. On Buddhism. I felt (still feel) woefully inadequate to the task.

But I figured, I can just tell folks: I’m no expert. And I’m a pretty good looker-upper :). So I took a deep breath and jumped in.

One year later, I have learned so much. Which is, of course, what happens when we teach. We learn far more than we give. I’ve learned about Buddhism, certainly — about Buddhist holidays, temples, rituals, beliefs, teachings I didn’t know, and a hundred other things.

I learned a LOT about blogging :). And still am!

But mostly, I learned about myself. I learned that no matter how long I write — for how many years — it’s always a bit scary. I learned that when I can’t write, I can’t think. I learned that my sense of humour doesn’t always strike folks as funny…:) And I learned how very much I have to learn.

It’s the perfect metaphor for Buddhism, of course, not that I don’t find Buddhism in most things :). But learning is particularly apt. Because in Buddhism, the more I study, the less I feel I know. And the more I believe I have to, as I tell my writing students, just do it. I have to practice, in other words. Such a lovely word — a license to mess up, to get it wrong, to let go of the idea there’s only ‘right.’

So today I offer you this: if you want to know more about something, tell someone you’ll teach it. And then watch out: the ride is crazy!

cat videos and joy reprised ~

YouTube Preview Image

There are so many ways this seems to me a metaphor for my practice: attachment, stuck, boxed in :). But my real purpose for posting this was far simpler: it made me laugh.

And some days, that’s what you need most.

Enjoy ~

choosing joy ~

I read a poem today ~ “My Dead Friends.” The poet asks her dead friends for counsel when she faces hard choices. And there’s a great answer from her dead friends: whatever leads/to joy, they always answer,/to more life and less worry.

That’s what I want to do — choose joy. Choose what will live best, even if it’s not what ‘should’ be done. I’ve never been very good at ‘should,’ anyway. Far better at play than protocol. But as I begin to sit down to breakfast w/ a milestone birthday, I am certain of only one thing: we are our daily choices, not simply our big decisions.

These days, I want my life to reflect the lightness of joy. I want to offer it up, spread it around, swim in it. And the funny thing? My definition has shifted over the years. When I was 20, ‘joy’ was the right boots, the right date, the right present.  These many years later? Joy is often very simple: the vivid orange of the orchids blooming in the breakfast room. Clean sheets at the end of the day. One perfect line in a poem, after an hour of work.

What brings you joy? Today, seek it out. Open tomorrow to more of it.  And think of making it a daily choice ~

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