As I sit here in my studio and write these words, sun pokes its head over my shoulder, wondering what exactly I am writing about. Creek also wonders, its murmuring, a fierce and steady reminder of my need to listen. I perk up my ears, curious about what this days holds.
Last summer I wrote this poem:
What the Day Holds
In the wind
on a clothesline
two white sheets wrinkle
swing upside down like bats
When breeze picks one up
the other follows
like a happily married couple
they remain tethered
through midnight gales and
not knowing what the day holds
when either will be picked
from the line
carried to bed.
Each time I walk through a gate is an opportunity to see things again, with an open heart, and curious mind. Every day is a miracle.
I know that sounds corny but I truly believe it, and attempt to live it. There is so much suffering in this world. A peek at last night’s News on the television revealed just how much: flooding in three quarters of Queensland in Australia and the resulting challenges from the devastation including the risk of waterborne disease and the lack of sufficient food. As well, since Queensland is a major exporter of food to China, the global food supply is compromised. Then there was the homicide of a police officer in Toronto, the shocking deaths of young and innocent at a peaceful grocery store rally in Tucson and the warning of a serial attacker of women on the streets of Vancouver. So much to take in. And this is just what the CTV News chose to share with its millions of viewers.
I don’t usually watch the News, nor listen to it on the radio. Some people might say I am just hiding my head in the sand. My mother can’t understand why I choose to remain unaware. I have a different perspective. I am profoundly aware of suffering in the world and I don’t have to watch the daily news to know that. It is a part of my spiritual practice. I accept that there is suffering in this life, or that life is full of suffering, as the Buddha taught in the first noble truth.
Clouds race above as I continue to lean in to grasp what the pain in my colon is telling me. I remember to note: pain is like this. I feel a pulling, a kind of intense stabbing. I am not ill, nor hungry really. My body does this sometimes. It has certain aches and discomforts that repeat themselves, call out for me to notice, to drop in and say hello, make my presence known.
Presence, yes, that is what makes it possible for me to hear the creek, feel the friction in my left groin. I breathe in, out. I watch my finger paint these words, I hear the flowing, insistent, guttural. I feel cool along my arms, my toes are icy.
Presence. Without it I would not be able to stand the pain, whether the physical poke I am feeling right now or the grief of those who have lost their homes, spouses, children and dignity this past week. Loss is everywhere. In here and out there.
How do we survive? Some of us don’t, can’t. We were never taught how, past the addiction to a substance or behaviour that would have us ignore or bastardize the feelings and wreak havoc on our own or others lives. Others find more skillful means of coping with the inevitable duress of life. We meditate, pray, write journals, or poems, paint or sculpt, teach how to open the heart and stay sane in a constantly changing world.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether I watch the News or not. All I have to do is step outside my front door and all around me there is death, decay, beings in the process of leaving this world, winds that hollow whole landscapes, beetles that consume forests, neighbours that pitch weeks of garbage down the side of our road.
Everywhere there is anguish, destruction. But didn’t I say every day is a miracle? Yes, and Yes. Both are true.
There it is again, that prickly gnawing. I feel you, I am here. Feeling the deep sorrow of those who weep and mourn and desire without fulfillment. Knowing my own joy, peace, comfort and the hard-won reaping of acceptance.
May all beings be filled with compassion for themselves and others. May all beings be filled with lovingkindness. May all beings be deeply at peace within themselves and with the world.
May you live each day as a miracle. May you walk through your gates with love.