Thursday, November 11, 2010

Poetry, Yoga, and Zazen in the Park

The renewed focus on my own poetry has brought me back to poetry in general. Not that I was ever really gone from it, perhaps just on a walk down a divergent path. This afternoon, I did a little yoga and zazen under the cool, midday sun, and then took a good look around the park I was sitting in.

During the spring and summer months, the valley below is obscured by the tree leaves. This makes the park feel smaller, a little more closed in, cozy even. Right now, it's wide open. The homes, schools, and fields of the valley below are easy to see. As are, suddenly, the various bare tree trunks and branches.

It's interesting how you can miss something that's always been there. The foliage I guess is quite distracting. Earlier in the autumn, I was probably fixated on the brightly colored displays all around me. And before that, it was just a wall of green, blocking the valley. Those snaking trucks and branches - well, they were being treated somewhat like most of us treat our breath - forgetting it until it feels like it's in danger of being lost forever.

Today, though, it was all trunks and branches. There in their strong, sturdy, quiet dignity.

And also, below one of those trees, the tiny of body of a mouse, turned on it's side - a victim of the first frost?

As I rested in trikonasana, a dog came running up behind me. The man with it had tossed a frisbee, but the dog apparently, lost interest and came bounding after me instead. It stopped before reaching me, and for a second, I looked at it sideways. Then a call from the man caused it's departure, just like these warmer November days are about to depart from us here in Minnesota.

Winter is on it's way. There's no doubt now. Maybe this year, I'll give snow yoga and meditation a try. That whole "When cold, be cold Buddha" thing. I don't know.

This old Rumi poem, a favorite of many, speaks to many things. One might be to the seasons, and their impact on each of us.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows.
who violently sweep your house
empty of your furniture.
Still treat each guest honorably,
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

The art of treating each other, each thing, each experience as an "honored guest" seems rare in these modern times. Maybe it wasn't even that common in the 13th century, or else why would Rumi remind us in such a way?

The gifts of late autumn are like anything else - beautiful in their own way, and soon to be replaced by something else. Replaced isn't quite the right word. Nothing is ever really replaced, not even the rusty bolt on an old bicycle. The new one might look exactly the same as the old one once was, but it's still different.

Guest houses. All. Even the sun, which returns to us every single day in an ever so slightly different form. We are it's guest house. It is ours. If we can't figure out how to honor what comes to the door, then life is nothing but a knocking that never gets answered.

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