Sunday, June 28, 2009

Joy within joy

It is a beautiful morning here in Indiana...I am sitting in the sunroom, drinking coffee, listening to the sound of the wind in the trees, watching the patterns of light and shadow move on the floor and wall. Peaceful, relaxed, enjoying.

Sid the cat has another idea. His idea of joy is a good healthy scratch on the head, between the ears. In fact, he'll climb into my lap and do quite a few calisthenics in order to achieve his goal. He flips around, he butts my hand (holding a full mug of coffee) with his head. He looks at me and meows. He's very persistent.

At first I resist. I want to sit quietly and witness all the beauty going on around me. I don't particularly feel like being bullied from my reverie by a three-year-old cat.

And yet, as I watch him persist, a little bud of admiration begins to smile within me. He really is a remarkable cat. And what an honor that he would choose me--choose my lap, choose this moment, need my hands--to help him find his joy. I give up my idea of nonmovement and pet his head, and he pushes his face into my hand, smiling and purring loudly. I have never seen a more appreciative cat. I laugh and continue petting.

I realize after a moment that I am experiencing joy, too. It is not the peaceful, introspective awe kind of joy I was feeling before Sid moved into my lap, but it is a rich, full, connected joy that comes from participating in the joy of another and knowing you had a part in making it possible. It is interesting to me that one kind of joy makes me want to avoid contact (because I will have to leave the quiet spot of wonder I have found), while the other joy draws me into contact (often, perhaps because of my introverted personality, against my own preference). How nice to realize that there is joy along both paths--and the one that is not my natural choice may be even richer for me because it draws me into relationship.

May you experience joy within joy--inwardly and outwardly--today.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Which shoes will you wear?

This morning I walked into the sunroom and noticed (odd how things just pop into your noticing like that) four pairs of my shoes by the back door. Four! The first thing that washed over me was the sheer extravagance of that. Do I really need four pairs of shoes? Three of them were sandals, and one a pair of boots for taking the dogs out in the rain and mud. And what's more, there are other pairs upstairs in my closet. Shoes with heels; shoes without. Fancy shoes, comfortable shoes.

The shoes have different personalities. The ones I'm wearing are made of hemp. Very light, soft, comfortable.

As I slipped my feet into the shoes, I thought of the way in which we put on our attitudes for the day. Will my approach to life be natural, soft, comfortable today? I hope so. May you choose the day you hope to create in much the same way you decided what to put on your feet this morning. It's all the same choice, you know. :)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Song of the body

Mary Oliver's new book of poetry (just made available in paperback) is Red Bird, and this poem is the last one in the volume. But it's beautiful, lifting up a key idea that's been gleaming at the center of my attention for the last few weeks--the tender interplay between body, mind, and spirit. So much of religion seems like it wants to cast off the body and value the soul or spirit; so much of practical life ignores or tunes out the call of spirit; but it's really a both/and--and that is the recipe for joy and peace. I'm learning that, g r a d u a l l y. :) Here's the poem:

    Red Bird Explains Himself

    Yes, I was the brilliance floating over the snow
    and I was the song in the summer leaves, but this was
    only the first trick
    I had hold of among my other mythologies,
    for I also knew obedience: bring sticks to the nest,
    food to the young, kisses to my bride.

    But don’t stop there, stay with me: listen.

    If I was the song that entered your heart
    then I was the music of your heart, that you wanted and needed,
    and thus wilderness bloomed that, with all its
    followers: gardeners, lovers, people who weep
    for the death of rivers.

    And this was my true task, to be the
    music of the body. Do you understand? for truly the body needs
    a song, a spirit, a soul. And no less, to make this work,
    the soul has need of a body,
    and I am both of the earth and I am of the inexplicable
    beauty of heaven
    where I fly so easily, so welcome, yes,
    and this is why I have been sent, to teach this to your heart.