Two poems, one practice below. As we enter this season of holy-days, spiritual traditions throughout the centuries and around the world have led us to moments of prayer – pausing to notice with reverence the miracles of creation, the light in the darkness, the turning of the spirit toward renewal and hope. The first poem is from the beloved 13th century Sufi poet Rumi, the second from the latest collection of poems from former poet laureate of the United States Billy Collins. Both speak to the mystery within, and deeper than, the ordinary, making everything we encounter extraordinary. The practice is to help us pause, become present, and notice with some awe and reverence the miracles in our midst, even as we juggle so many exceeded or dashed expectations of the season.
This we have now
is not imagination.
This is not
grief or joy.
Not a judging state,
or an elation,
This is the presence
What else could human beings want?
When grapes turn to wine,
When the night sky pours by,
it’s really a crowd of beggars,
and they all want some of this!
that we are now
created the body, cell by cell,
like bees building a honeycomb.
The human body and the universe
grew from this, not this
from the universe and the human body.
This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.
In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.
This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.
The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.
No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.
No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then
for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.
But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.
After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,
so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.
– Billy Collins
Practice: In your own advent of the dying of one year, the coming of another, take 10 seconds each day to open your eyes to the miracle of something ordinary: the bright red of a stop sign, the symphony of sound in the falling water of the shower, the light in your child’s eyes when you come through the door at the end of the day. And take another 20 seconds to let yourself open to the presence, the mystery, that lies deep within each moment of miracle. Tapping into however you experience the Presence, the Light, the Sacred, that opens our hearts to all other hearts at this time of year, finding peace, love, joy.