I sometimes worry about our car engine, wondering if it might one day break down on some lonesome road, far from friends and repair shops. However, I know that I never have to worry about the engine that drives my life, because it’s precisely the same engine that manages the entire universe. The sun has been dutifully rising for billions of years now, and the same power that steers the sun steers the countless thoughts that rise inside me, and steers my little lungs that reliably lift and fall about 21,000 times every 24 hours. Each day – each moment – is made by a motor that never starts and never stops, a machine that’s been making miracles since time began. It can’t break down, because the ever-present present moment can’t break down. Actually, I’m an integral part of this everlasting motor. I think because it thinks; I smile because it smiles.
I love riding in our car, feeling the smoothness of movement over the roads, and I should love far more just sailing smoothly along inside the engine called Life.
Today, I hope I can rest more often. Actually, perhaps I should say I hope I can realize that I am always resting. This universe that I and all of us and everything belong to is, you might say, made of restfulness. Yes, there certainly seems to be lots of work happening all the time, but all of it always happens in the smoothness of togetherness, the way all the ripples and waves in a river happen in the easy inseparableness of the single, always relaxed river. No matter what might happen in my life today, it will happen in the present, and, since there are no boundaries to the present (it’s always here, with no end), there are no edges for actions to bump into. Like an endless ocean, the present simply rolls and flows in inseparable friendship, and thus all that happens in the present happens in smoothness and fellowship. Yes, what happens might seem difficult and even horrible, but that’s because I’m viewing it from afar, the way an ocean can seem roiled and whipped when seen from a distance. Viewed close-up, from the eyes of a small, smoothly swimming fish, even the stormiest ocean is still a calming home. The fish ‘flows with the flow’, and thus finds rest even in the midst of severely tossed waters.
Today, no matter what happens, I hope I can feel the boundless comfort of the immeasurable present moment. Then, the hardest – even the saddest – work can seem full of rest and peacefulness.
I am surrounded by partners. I have my wife and family as loving and loyal comrades, and I’m also encircled by countless unseen, silent colleagues. For instance, I have my reliable lungs, those small, gossamer co-workers that lift and fall in fidelity as my life flows along. There’s my heart, too, a teammate as sure and steady as they come, faithfully performing its good service, no matter what worries and fears I may be feeling. And then, of course, there’s the air around me, extending out for endless miles, and entering my life through my breath, moment after moment, day and night, in the steadiest and calmest way possible. Even if I’m swept away by the worst of worries, the vast universe of air, my loyal companion, keeps sending me its gift of breath.
I hope I can always be grateful for these trusty companions.
The dictionary defines ‘sacred’ as something ‘regarded with great respect and reverence by a particular religion, group, or individual’, and, since I am an individual who regards with great respect and reverence the present moment, then I could say that the present moment is sacred to me. For me, here and now is holy and hallowed. Never mind churches and cathedrals. All I need to help me feel truly religious is to be totally present in the inviolable, invulnerable Here and Now. Right now, as I’m typing these words on my computer, is a sanctified moment, full of the endless and always brand-new wonders of life. It’s as if a halo surrounds the keyboard, and my fingers, and my house, and the misty rain and soft songs of birds outside. There’s glory in this moment, right now, and in every moment – a radiance that equals the shine of the finest cathedral.
In Worship, West Virginia, USA,
even the smallest word -
even 'like' or 'love' -
is spoken with special reverence.
Citizens of this serene town
see holy mystery everywhere -
in water flowing from faucets,
in hands that shine after washing,
on the shore of each arising moment.
You'll see expressions of consecration in faces
in the cereal section of grocery stores,
and the prayer-like look of mechanics
making their sacred cars run smoothly.
Just a little silence
can make folks fall into prayer,
and the sound of warm air
flowing from a furnace
is like sacred hymns
in reverential Worship, West Virginia.
I’m thinking of the word ‘all’ this morning – that all the trees outside are just perfect exactly the way they are, that all of the parts of the sky are working together perfectly to create a beautiful sky, that all the sounds in the distance are smooth and harmonious, that all the birds singing and flying this morning are doing it in perfect ways, that all my thoughts are the best thoughts they can possibly be, that all I ever have to do in life is stay right here and now in the present moment, and that I have no idea how all these words came together this morning in such a peaceful harmonious way. All praise to all!
And here are some photos from yesterday’s walk and today’s bike ride …
When I was a boy, “search me” — meaning “I have no clue” — was a response I sometimes used when questioned about something, and I was thinking this morning that I could make it my personal slogan, since I honestly have no definite answers on almost any issue. I have occasionally enjoyed pretending I know the right answers, but the truth is, I could forage in my mind forever and still not be sure I’ve got the truth. All I usually find, in fact, is a formidable wilderness of possible answers, like wispy flakes moving by the millions through my mind. For me, life at age 80, is almost always fun, and sometimes fantastic, but that doesn’t mean I have answers. Actually, I’ve pretty much given up trying to find answers, and instead, I’m savoring the surprisingly charming world of my cluelessness. The sky above is immense, unsearchable, and beautiful, and so, I now see, is the universe of answers. Instead of searching, I’m just appreciating.
NAIVE AND SATISFIED
At 80, he feels blessed to be
naive again, like he's getting young
once more and feeling all the joy
of youthful obliviousness The pleasant light
of naïveté has dawned on him
and often sends him out to walk around
the yard. A neighbor sometimes sees him
and decides life
must be a joy, if this old man can smile
outside in shorts even in wintertime.
The old man has come to see that life
is more mysterious than understandable,
more like a pleasant maze than something one
should try to understand and steer.
The neighbor who watches him smiles, too,
as though contented to be lost, like him, inside
a baffling web of cluelessness, as though
they're both enjoying the peace of knowing
how naive - and satisfied - they are.
Below are some scenes from our walk yesterday in Pequot Woods …
Perhaps all of us know people who seem to shine with what we might call “presence”. These are people who seem thoroughly present, wherever they might be. When you’re with them, they give the gift of being completely with you, entirely here right now. In a surprising way, the presence of these people can create in us a sense of expansiveness, almost boundlessness, as though when they enter a room the walls seem to disappear and an uncommon kind of freedom is felt. They are not only present with us, but completely pleased and satisfied to be right where they are, which sometimes makes us feel, for a few moments, something similar, something like satisfaction and reassurance and empowerment.
BEING BACKED UP
(about Bill M., 87, Blessings, CT, USA)
He’s always backed-up,
which brings him an easy, consoling feeling,
like flying in an infinite sky
with never-failing, always-helpful winds.
When worries assail him,
simple presence has his back,
reassuring him that now
will never be any better than it is now,
which means it’s matchless
right at this moment,
and that miracles can arise
even from fear and fretfulness.
He gets help from the happiness
he sees in old, simple streets
and in stones that sit in peace.
His support is always present
in every spreading-out
and restfully soaring
Here are some scenes from our walk this morning at the Pequot Sanctuary …
A famous man once said that meekness in a person is a blessed thing, and I think I’m finally starting to see his meaning. It seems to me now, finally, that meekness is a strength instead of a weakness. In meekness, surprisingly, we sometimes stand up stronger than in assertiveness. When we bow, we sometimes win. Trees that survive are those that submit to strong winds instead of resisting them, and water almost always wins because it yields itself softly to obstructions. Meekness means a brave kind of obedience. Streams are obedient to boulders and flow effortlessly around them. Flowers are obedient to breezes and bow with ease and elegance. I am obedient to my heart and lungs and let them lead the way. In meekness we are mild in a daring way, gentle in just the way the strongest trees are.
Below, two meek 80-year-old bike riders this morning, enjoying a chilly 10-mile ride on the rail trail in Kingston, RI…
And here is our front-yard friendship poem for today …