The lines from a Mary Oliver poem called ‘lingering in happiness’ are what I remembered this morning seeing the tender sun shine after a night of storm:
After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees
The cleansing of the heart. the soft dampness afterward.
The tenderness of the heart, the willingness to be with things as they are – without force or willfulness but a gentle dropping into our experience comes with great difficulty. When things are hard we like to find ways to distract ourselves. One tried and tested way that the mind loves to return to is the blame game. We like to blame someone or something. There have been dozens of nights these past couple of months when I have listened to my mind do this. Because simply accepting that the situation is difficult and the conditions are hard and there is really no one to blame goes to the essence of Buddha’s first noble truth.
Life is hard. for all of us. Whatever way we choose to distract ourselves, acceptance of this truth in a gentle soft manner is what opens the heart. It is what allows us to be present with what arises. It is what teaches us compassion. and most importantly, it is not a failure or judgment of any kind.
The fact that life is hard does not take away from the fact that life is amazing. and it is possible for both to exist simultaneously. It is like night and day. There is no duality in this – it is just the way things are. We make it a problem by attaching to one and rejecting the other. and of course we do. It is painful to be with things when they change, when they are hard, when they challenge us to extend our selves and our kindnesses. But as we start to acknowledge this truth, as we begin to be honest with ourselves, there is a sense of freedom that starts to open up, a sense of space. all that energy spent in rejecting is now free to be!
This cleansing of the heart I’m starting to find, takes its own time and space, and all we can do is continually show up. over and over again. What is heartening is to remember that soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years, will feel themselves being touched. (Mary Oliver)
May we be gentle with our souls in this journey of life.
with Love, S.