Friday, May 1, 2015

What are You Doing About the Weeds?

I received a text from a friend last night.  She asked what I was doing?  My reply was:  “Brooding!”  She replied that she was too and let me know that she was on her way over.  This life has its own type of perfection, when two gals clue into each other and end up spending a Thursday evening wrapped in a blankie, on the couch, lamenting about the vagaries of life and it’s many challenges.  

In the course of conversation she asked me:  “Why has everything become so intense?  It feels like someone has turned up the heat!” with no access to the thermostat.

I had no answer to give her, but the conversation reminded me of an image from an ancient story, that I have been contemplating of late.   It’s in the garden story, long after Eve emerged from an Adamic sleep, even after she herself had woken-up, from snacking on the “apple”,  offered to her by a particular kind of worm.  
In studying the image, I realized I was contemplating in my mind, the particular part of the story where Eve learns she’s stuck there now; entangled in the branches of the Tree of Knowledge.  That’s what we gals were brooding over.  That pesky underpinning, we can't seem to grasp that keeps us grappling.  She was asking me (for probably the ten-thousandth time): “How do I just be happy?  How do I break free from the pain?”
Though I didn’t share it last night, her question reminded me of one of my favorite excerpts from William Wordsworth’s “Prelude”, written in 1888:

"Two miles I had to walk along the fields
before I reached my home. Magnificent
The morning was, a memorable pomp,
More glorious than I ever had beheld,
The sea was laughing at a distance; all
The solid mountains were as bright as clouds…
And in the meadows and the lower grounds
Was all the sweetness of a common dawn,
Dews, vapors, and the melody of birds,
And Laborers going forth with the fields.
Ah! need I say, dear friend, but to the brim
My heart was full: I made no vows, but 
vows were made for me; bond unknown to me
was given, that I should be, else sinning greatly,
a dedicated Spirit, and on I walked
in blessedness, which even yet remains..."

My friend's lament, my own brooding over those vows that “were made for" us, that “bond unknown" to us given and the image (pictured above by J. Kirk Richards), they all had something in common for me.  These old stories that lay before me, like a manuscript to be deciphered, the challenges current in life; the hidden answers that seem to come somewhere between the literal dogma and metaphoric-spiritual evolution they offer.
In the garden story, Eve makes a choice, prior to the possibility of knowledge.  Such a paradox and reminds me of Wordsworth’s morning walk, of those “vows that were made” prior to understanding the promise, yet the promise remains, and the bond that regardless of anything, there is blessedness that restores itself, as we search their meaning for us.

I love that after Eve took the apple, her Divine parents directed her to the Tree of Life, where placed there to guard her from moving too fast, were Cherubim (not one cherub with a heart-shaped arrow), but plural guardians.  I’m sure it she felt like someone standing behind her had just struck LOUD symbols together and the reverberation rattled her vision from one to three.  I love that J. Kirk Richards painted three guardians, because it was like a little confirmation of something I have suspected since I was quite young: 

If I were to use this image as a map into the metaphor, I would say that the guardians placed around the Tree of Life are the cherubim of our own body, mind and spirit, separated out for us to learn to work through.
Prior to taking a bite out of mortality, none of them were really possible in the realms of the un-manifest.  But here, well here it is a different story, here we get to work with them, without the emergence of congruent ongoing union.
Sometimes I work or play in my body, sometimes in my mind and sometimes in my spirit, yet what happens to one, reverberates through the others.  The reverberation can feel gross or incredibly intricate.  Sometimes it feels like my very agency pits them against each other and like quarreling sisters, it can feel like they’re mutual affinity, also has the capacity to create my own worst enemy and they become the very guardians to entering into full-happiness.  This, I think is what was going on last night 

On my path, as a yogi, I have experienced a communion of these three more often than a gal deserves. I know what it is, but if I really sustained it, like standing in God’s presence it would burn me up, from my head to toe.  It is not meant to fully blossom in this place, while also remaining the gate to the next. This place is not the place to fully embrace it, but to glimpse it, to cultivate it, to train these guardians to grow as one…not unlike the garden She came from, yet far beyond its borders.

Something I can say, is that when the three cherubim, body, mind and spirit are yoked as one, the Tree of Life is not a metaphor, and the map of lasting happiness begins to reveal itself through me more soulfully, for the moment. 
Sometimes that map leads me to my knees, where I kneel before the three of them and the flaming sword that keeps my happiness at bay feels like my own head, with a that old familiar heat that piercing down my spine.  I am the flaming sword, that’s me, body, mind and spirit, as I am now.  My work here, is the very juicing of apples (hopefully worm-free).

The only way I know to truly sin greatly in this life, is to hide from being a dedicated spirit; to live divided, body-mind-spirit; to go through the day with each one choosing for itself, as though the others don't exist at all.   So I find that, one night in good company, helped us enjoy the brooding and the weeding, as much as we enjoy the garden itself.
I had an experience of such weeding, just this past week.  My garden is in the back yard, in the form of a walking labyrinth.  And while I have been distracted by watching the grass in the center fountain and flourish, with no water source (indicating the immense flow of Spirit that pours into this life), the soft-rich soil had begun spouting weeds.
I was a wee bit puzzled, as several weeks passed, that I had no desire to drop to my knees and go to work on it.   A few days ago, however, following a recent rain, I noticed the soil was soft, the air was moist and felt sweet on my tongue, through my breath.   The time felt “ripe” for weeding, so I dropped to my knees and went to work.  Brooding or not, the process felt like a privilege. 

The pictures here really need none of these words above, other than to dedicate them to Karen and to Wordsworth, and Mary Oliver (of course) and to anyone else who knows what a blessing weeding can be, when it comes to this process called life, and to the intricate practice of yoking body, mind and soul.

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