I have been on my knees a lot lately.
I’ve learned the hard way that there is no quick fix down the road, if the soil is poor.
Watching elderly neighbors fuss over their roses or talk to their cat as they fed it…. I admit I probably thought that was all they had to do with their day.
I was DOING things… and tending, I guess, looked like just fiddling.
It stands out so clearly in my mind, as any watershed moment does.
How did it become so, so abandoned?
One day, I told myself…. when I slowed down, when I had time. One day I was going to get out there.
I am learning to be a Tender–
I hope I am becoming one of those gray-haired ladies.
A week or so ago, as the remnants of a long, frozen winter were finally melting, Tim tromped excitedly up the hill from the river with a little boy look on his face, “The Wood Ducks are back!”
We smiled… and shared a still, unspoken moment.
At the top of that ridge somehow it hit both of us similarly- a sense of completion, of full cycle, of belonging to a place in which there was a “returning”.
I think it was there and then that something shifted permanently for us-
a feeling that we are now Home, in the truest sense of the word.
What was it that rose so deep in him at the sighting of those beautiful birds?
…the same ducks that we had studied through binoculars last year in the glass cafe of our new home?
Why is it so powerful to witness the familiar return?
Perhaps it is the deep, sweet feeling of everything being right with the world.
and a relief, at some level, that it is flowing regardless…
a permission to let go of the need to control it…
an invitation to “come home” to the cycles of life, instead of pushing so hard to steer them.
And perhaps it is the gratitude of being in a place where something so magnificent is actually familiar.
For us, a family who has experienced 18 months of uprooting, I know our hearts were waiting for this.
Through all the packing, “leaving the nest:”, releasing, relocating, unpacking- the existential Big questions related to Home have been an underlying theme- “What is home?” and “How do you know when you are there?”.
Less about brick and mortar, more wondering about truly belonging in this world, in this changing life…
Hearing of the returning wood ducks brought up a body memory of being 4 or 5 years old standing at the shore break at Bethany, letting the waves lap against my shins- fearless, safe- sensing the weight of my body sink another inch deeper in the sand with each ebb and flow.
The more the ocean returned and retreated, the deeper I was rooted.
The more that huge, wild, water world came and went, the more solid my footing.
Even as a child, I learned in my bones, with wet sand between my toes, that the leaving and returning were part of my safety. Something to celebrate. Something to lean against.
I look out the window- eleven bluebirds are perched in the low bushes outside right now. I remember them from late March last year, flocks and flocks of them sprinkled in the woodland. They came through about the time those little white wildflowers appeared …
and, yes, come to think of it, I nearly stepped on a few blossoms yesterday on my way to the compost pile!
So, does that mean I can expect wild violets in the far field next? 🙂
Oh, and the iridescent green Swallows were checking out the birdhouse last week… just like last April.
We are no longer visitors.
And, I see, we never are… as long as we stay intimately in tune with the ebbing and flowing of this world we inhabit.
The tiny flowers, the traveling ducks, the dropping needles, the fruiting trees…
reminders that we are all part of the home to which they return.
The home. Our home.
So, I wonder,
how does it feel to you to be part of the “returnings”?
What is it in your life that reminds you that all is right… that the wheel is turning as it is designed to?
The daffodils in your front yard? The cherry blossoms along the road? The sound of birds again in the morning or the heat of the sun on your skin at lunchtime?
Is it the new energy in your body? The aliveness of your senses as the days grow longer?
I believe returnings can be both internal and external.
in my life…
Ahhh, sounds so simple… and on some levels it is.
Yet, I found out that in order to be consistently mindful– to be PRESENT, NOW, HERE- I needed some training.
We are conditioned to want to be anywhere but “here”. The mind is like a puppy- if you tell it to sit and stay- in a few seconds it hops up again, chasing its tail or anything else that attracts its attention. We are a culture lost in thought, out-of-body, living in either the past or future. We believe we don’t want to be “here” because what is going on here (internally or externally) can feel uncomfortable or boring.
But all this “chasing our thoughts” actually takes us nowhere real.
There is no “there” there. There is only Here.
Years ago, after too much busy-ness, too much chasing after happiness “out there”, I was introduced to Vipassana meditation. http://www.imcw.org/ Instantly I felt that I had come Home.
This simple, profound practice helped me return to my body, my senses, and the life right here.
The key is the “on purpose” and “non-judgementally” part. Attitude is everything.
Mindfulness is cultivated by paying attention on purpose, deeply, and without judgment (friendly and inviting) to whatever arises in the present moment, either inside or outside of us. By intentionally practicing mindfulness, deliberately paying more careful moment-to-moment attention, we can live more fully and less on “automatic pilot”, thus, being more present for our own lives.
And in that space, where the mind calms down and our senses come awake… we find Insight.
Looking the reality of “what is” in the eyes, in that space, we find wisdom. Not “my” wisdom. “The” wisdom.
And, amazingly, we realize it was right here all along.
As Dorothy found out in The Wizard of Oz, “there is no place like home”. Or, put another way,
This practice (and I do mean practice!- haven’t found any shortcuts 🙂 has changed the quality of my life. Sure, my puppy mind is still busy and distractable at times. But, through a regular Vipassana meditation practice, I don’t stray too far from that calm, clear, compassionate place inside. I have learned strategies to help me in the course of everyday life to return… to pause and come home again.
I call that place “the water table”… just under the busy, noisy surface.
If I stray too far from the water table… my well dries up.
Mindfulness is not about “blissing out”. Just the opposite.
It is about waking up. Noticing, feeling, and facing everything that Is… with friendliness, nonreactively.
I find that when I stop clinging to or pushing away “what is”… I relax, and the fight in me disappears. The world appears in full color!
Life is not meant to be a struggle. And the good news is, it doesn’t have to be. ~ Beth
~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Welcome to From Deeper Water… a place to ponder what surfaces from the sweet, still place inside us where dreams and art are born.
Tucked here on the banks of the Cacapon River, my family is beginning a new chapter of small farming and mindful living. We were drawn to this place by the big sky, slow river and abundant wildlife. We intend to live with more intention- a simpler, slower and healthier life.
I can feel my spirit expand in this setting.
And I am struck by the question-
“What does it mean for a person to FULLY BLOSSOM
in this life?”
I intend to follow that question into gardening, writing, painting and sculpting.
I hope to let the wisdom of the river and the life she supports teach me the answer.
Check back in from time to time to see where this exploring leads me!