Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Only Life You Could Save

Tonight I am feeling so grateful for my day:
Thank you to Casey for sharing your
sweet little boy, Blake, with me.
Thank you to Blake for falling asleep in my arms.
Thank you to my friend, Mark, for taking me
to the Cedar Sangha meditation group.
Thank you to my husband for your tenderness and humor.
Thank you to my little cat for purring
so enthusiastically while snuggling on my lap.
And thank you to Mary Oliver
for poetry that speaks to my heart.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver ~

This evening Mark told me that one way to think of meditation is to imagine a king or queen holding court. All the thoughts and feelings that arise are subjects who have come to court to be heard. If you send them away, imagining that the work of meditation is to make your mind be quiet, they will feel slighted and yell even louder. On the other hand, if you listen to them with understanding and empathy, they will soon quiet down and you will find your court very peaceful.

What I noticed while meditating was how foreign stillness felt. I move through my life with a lot of momentum, and that feels good most of the time . . . safe and purposeful, even powerful. But it is not sustainable. That momentum requires me to continually disregard those parts of myself that have come to court to be heard.

How can I possibly nurture others until I "save the only life I can save," my own?


caitsmom said...

I love the poetry you find and share. Thank you for including such beautiful and meaningful words.

SerineKat said...

I'm reading a book on loss and in there they say to label any thoughts or emotions while meditating as THINKING. If you start to remember a fight just say THINKING. If you start having some sort of x-rated fantasy it is just THINKING. By using a neutral word like THINKING you don't label thoughts or emotions as good or bad. I like the royalty imagery too. Take care. I have to take The Cheat to the vet. Pray for us all1

Mama Jamz said...

I really like the royal court imagery, too. I am not very good at solo meditation, to music or silence; I love guided meditations with imagery. I guess I am crowding out the thoughts that want to bubble up with the vivid imagery that the speaker suggests, and not giving them their due. But it's so blissful to get to that still place - I love it. I would love to go to a meditation retreat - I'm glad you got to experience that.

I really enjoy your blog and the beautiful poetry you post, too.

Anonymous said...

Yes, those clamoring voices. They are so loud in my head right now. I too very much like the idea of holding court with them. Thanks for sharing. Susan