Walking in the World

When you are ill, you know you are alive. With the flu, you feel your flesh, the inside of your lungs, the space between your skull and brain. This is inaccurate, medically, but true. Your nerves can pinpoint where there is still slush in your gut. The temperature of everything you touch is extreme. It is painful to be alive.

I was ill recently. For days.  Nothing concerned me except my body. It seemed I had no mind, no emotion, no care, only a body full of screaming nerve endings. As long as I slept, I was free of the illness, and free of the remaining sliver of awareness that monitored everything, and reminded me that this, too, would pass.

Just let it pass now, I begged silently to myself. Let me sleep.

So much sleeping seemed wrong.  How could I want to disappear from myself.  That’s like asking for death. But so be it. I slept. And I slept.

Finally, maybe a week later, and with a degree of recovery, I answered the inner call to be in the normal world, outside my home.  I drove to a nearby market.

Walking across the parking lot toward the front doors of the store, I saw the many cars, pulling in, parking, leaving. They followed the arrows and lines on the asphalt.  Blinkers and brake lights signaled from car to car.  All was orderly.

Across the way, on the sidewalk bordering the parking lot, someone in a bright hat marshalled three small, colorful dogs on leashes. The dogs were playful with pretty collars.  They seemed like four-footed ballerinas doing a ribbon dance, over there, beyond the hard, shiny, well-behaved cars.

I noticed my legs moving, right-left, right-left, a steady, quiet pulling of me closer to the store, through the traffic.  I noticed other things, too – my wanting to see more of the colorful play of the trio on leashes, my bruised lungs rebelling against the cold air, my fatigue doubting my ability to carry a bag of groceries. I noticed the people moving toward and away from me, toward and away from their own shopping, each carrying their own preoccupations, their own bodies and minds, their own grocery bags. I wanted to notice it all at the same time. I couldn’t. But I did my best. It was beautiful – dogs, cars, people, all moving.

It was amazing to be moving across such a great distance as this parking lot. The world was big and it seemed good, all the shapes and activity.  My body did not hurt as badly as it had. But it still had the odd warmth and ache of illness. My breath was a constant sensation.  And I was glad to feel myself, my body, in this strong, direct way. It made me pay attention.  It kept me here, inside my skin, while I watched the drama of motion flow around me.

I felt fragile, and that kept me practical, simple, calm.  I had no extra energy for excitement.  My mind was free – without clutter or demands. I didn’t feel strongly about anything. I was more like an artist seeing objectively.  Moving was plenty to focus on. Witnessing absorbed my mind. Being alive, walking in the world, and being willing to be aware, that was quite a lot.






Stormy Sky

The gardening could go on forever, I would not mind. I came outside mid-morning, having read the weather would turn wet by afternoon. It is past lunchtime now, judging by the growls coming from my belly. I’ve been bent over, focused on the earth and my trowel, and my back is talking to me.  I rise to my feet into a big slow arching stretch, and see, yes, heavy weather is about to break.

There is beauty in the stormy sky above the garden.  It bears down on the horizon, muting the lush greens of the trees as if dusk were pressing in.  The misty backdrop breathes with mood, conjuring an urgent drama. Power is in this air.  It sways and swells in slow motion. It’s just a change in air pressure, but it seems to reach right in and touch me, not exactly gently.

Words never really do justice to this kind of truth.

Poems have described turbulent weather. The cinema sometimes paints it into a scene. Historians have explained battle outcomes by the sudden assault of a storm, and soothsayers predict the future of newborns by the distribution of billows and plumes in the birth day’s clouds.

Indeed, the sky commands my attention. It ekes from my human heart a kind of awe that silences my voice.  A message is being delivered as profound as any church sermon or choir, or funeral.

Though the sky, roiling now, is as absent of worldly color as the sunset is imbued with it, there is present here a force that without notice gives life and takes it away. There lurks in the smell of the air the return of a flood, a great one that can wash us into the dirt from which our bones have been made.

The rain begins. The sky is falling, one pelt at a time, everywhere, as far as I can see. I head in and take cover in prayers I do not know.

TWT – 1/26/2018

Arriving Home

End of day. Work is over.  I am full to the brim and used up at the same time. Walking up the steps to the porch of home, my lungs sigh softly.  The breeze catches in my hair as my eyes lower to look at my keys.  My troubles seem less pressing.  My surroundings are forefront.

The atmosphere holds something.  The air about my body seems to open up – space feels to have expanded, and I with it. Truly, blinders fall from my vision and the world, three dimensional, has a flowing quality to it.  It is still, not the air or the trees, but inside the elements of sky and earth, there is a quiet. A rich, wholesome quiet. There is steadiness of everything, there inside me and in the key and in the breeze.

The mental imaging, my perpetually flitting, emotional rendering of what is before me, has paused.  The compelling ticking of thinking with words has given into a calm spell.

Sounds about me mark my setting – my heels hit the wooden planks, a dog barks down the street – and a beating heart secures me to myself.  The hallowed whole of it all has touched me, this tiny part of that wholeness. It is at once in me and about me – my senses gently absorb it all without detail, eating up the ambiance.  A world has revealed itself – like learning to see through the surface of a mirror into the depth of the reflection.

A wordless presence is holding still, and I am part of it, the presence inside of me.   Breathing is good.  I put the key into the keyhole. I am glad to be home.


I’ll pass along to the reader moments of meditative awareness from my life.   Exceptional moments are in the many ordinary moments.  I depend on this to be true. I make it true by appreciating ordinary moments.