Breakfast this morning was my usual – leftovers from the night before – which today was a stew of veggies over rice – onions, red peppers and garlic, a delicious way to start the day. As my mouth registered the layered rings of onion, the clove shapes of garlic buds and the curves of roasted pepper, my mind subtly spread into their vegetable lives. I felt their growth in soil, their forming into bulbs and flowers, their responses to sunlight and rain. I was green along with them as their lives and deaths became part of the taste of breakfast. Hard to describe, but it felt like my whole being spread out past my skin to encompass the whole world and time, turning my simple breakfast into a holy act.
I actually cried, grateful nobody was around to witness my epiphanies over breakfast!
After all these months of quarantine and slowed-down living I am becoming a monk, increasingly more aware of the subtle dimensions of ordinary things hidden in plain sight – new ones every day. It’s like slowly inching my way up one side of a see-saw, feeling the board slowly find balance beneath my legs as I edge towards the middle – the tipping point. In a moment, the whole thing will shift and go bonk!
Like the world.
As I see it, now is the time to pivot, shift our weight and balance in a new place, or we’ll fall off. Time to prepare for the future, not pine for the past. Can we do it?
Something we cannot yet name is changing, like a child in the womb preparing to be born. She grows slowly out of sight for months of slow preparation, and then dramatically pushes her way through into the air of the world. Huge contractions happen, and blood and searing pain, fear and single-minded strength are needed for her to get born, nothing less. And then all is changed as we find ourselves in a new place out beyond the enclosure we had assumed for nine months was the edge of home.
For life to continue, the baby has to grow up or die. It’s that simple. It is the end of an era; it is the beginning of an era.
Lately, a teacher has come to take up residence in my little studio home, showing me how to take on the challenges of life in a changing, world. My new teacher is a field mouse. He is brilliant; I cannot outsmart him no matter how hard I try! At first I considered him an unwelcome intruder, but as we get to know each other, I am awed by his cunning. Believe me, he is a lot smarter than I am! Some mornings, after he has foiled my attempts to keep him on his own side of the wall, he will pop up in full sight on the bookcase by my bed, and we stare with curiosity at each other. He sees me, reads my every blink. Who knew mice were so smart?
“How do you do this?” I whispered one morning, “I closed up every hole last night.” I swear he shot me a grin. The new hole, perfectly round, was actually 4 feet off the ground by the electric wall socket in the kitchen! “But how?” I asked out loud. I must have shrugged with too much energy because he took off in a quick minute, and was gone.
A few days ago I got to watch Mia the goat give birth to her twins in the barn. Her sides heaved and she leaned against the wall of the manger for support as two tiny hooves with a little pink nose between them emerged from her straining body. I remembered what it felt like to give birth myself, spreading my vagina impossibly wide to bring new life into the world – and how much it hurt! I felt helpless and powerful, triumphant and exhausted, outraged and committed All of that, and more.
As this new life slid bloodily into the hay of the manger, we held our breaths as the baby kid took in its first gulping breath. And tried to stand on wobbly little legs, making tinny little bleats while its mother licked its wet, furry body with a tongue that knew what to do, even though she had never done it before.
I could feel again the wonderment of those first moments when your baby breathes on his own, your womb is emptied of its perfectly-formed new person and your life is inexorably changed forever. New life is here, and is dependent upon you to survive. You have no choice but to rise to the occasion, but there is nothing else you would rather be doing as your whole being commits to the charge, in love because life is changed now – forever. And the task is yours, no matter what.Breathe…
The task is ours, no matter what!
And we know we were born for this, and right now is the time.Right. NOW!