An unexpected book arrived in the mail the other day. A gift from my friend’s at Wisdom Publications. Zen Master Raven: The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird. by Zen Master human form, Robert Aitken. Here the koans are told by and to animals of the forest: raven, porcupine, owl, woodpecker, badger, black bear, and […]
It’s been a long winter here in Northern Vermont and elsewhere around the country. The mountain is still frozen and buried in snow. In the valley, the long buried grass, brown and tired, is emerging from under the receding glacier, yet my yard is still buried in snow.
The calendar reads April but we are uncertain about the season. The long grip of winter gives rise to the hope for spring. Attachment presents itself in both pushing away from winter and pulling towards spring.
I have retired my snowboard and I’m ready to pick up my golf clubs. I’ll have to wait though.
The sun was shining yesterday and I took advantage of the sunshine to spend my last day carving up the mountain. From the top of the lift at Stowe, one can see most of the world. The White Mountains are visible to the east. Jay Peak can be seen north. Camel’s Hump and Sugarbush trace the spine of the Green Mountains. And Lake Champlain is very visible because it is still frozen and snow covered.
In Vermont, we are about to enter the next of our six seasons but it is not yet spring. Soon, it will be Mud Season. The heavy snows will eventually melt and the frozen ground will yield to water. The rains will come and the dirt roads will soften into rutted ooze. It will take nearly a month for the water and the earth to come back into balance. Meanwhile we wait.
Of course, the season’s transitions are metaphors for our personal transitions. The seasons happen with reasonable reliability. While winter has been long, it still follows fall and precedes spring. Our own transitions may not have such regularity. Losses, surprises, and uncertainties of all kinds visit us daily.
Mindfulness practice can help us to embrace these uncertainties with a sense of resolve, calm, and dignity. Like the spring, we don’t know when resolution of a problem will arrive. Perhaps never, if it is a chronic situation like chronic pain. So we just breathe with the vicissitudes, coming in and out like the breath.
Mindfulness teaches us patience, too. It asks us to set aside the plaintive narratives. I’ve heard a lot of grousing this winter about the weather. People love to hate the weather, especially winter. When the story is quiet, however, we can be at peace with whatever is present whether that is a grey, drizzly sky or a tumultuous emotion, a difficult conversation, or financial precariousness. We can embrace all of it.
In this transition to spring, I invite you to be open to the changes. Bring curiosity to them. Breathe with patience. Before we know it, we’ll be saying good bye to spring and summer; let’s not be so greedy for their arrival.