It must be spring: I awoke a couple of days ago to a really dense fog and decided to go out with my camera -- something I haven't done in months except on assignments.
I only had about 45 minutes before I had to take the dog to the vet, so I decided to go for a sure thing: the 15 minute drive to Waterfront Park almost always yields great images. I would only have 15 minutes for shooting, but that should bring me all I needed.
So I drove to the park. It was okay, interesting, but not great; no unusual boats, just the familiar standbys, though I shot several versions of this intriguing reflection. But all in all it only took a few minutes, so I stopped to buy my husband a cup of coffee on the way home. And, driving home from the coffee shop, my eye was caught by these delightful geese.
For some reason I love this photograph: it has such a fairy tale quality to it. It was the bright white of the geese against the dark of the dirt and the fog that first caught my eye. But I also love the bright orange of their beaks; the crisp contrast of the turkey's tail, his blue eye and hot pink wattles; the blue reflected in the tarps in the background, the sense of the road stretching off into fairyland, the one goose looking in the opposite direction from all the others...
I'm sure there are lots of stories we could imagine here. But I think the lesson in it for me is that the joy and fulfillment in life don't always show up in the expected places. It's kind of like those occasional exhilarating moments we get in meditation; they just don't seem to happen that often. But in order for them to happen at all, we have to keep up the practice. In order to get photographs, I have to go out with my camera. As Woody Allen says, "Ninety percent of life is just showing up."
In The Cloud of Unknowing this morning I read that there are pleasures that may occasionally arise from the heart as we meditate, but that we shouldn't rely too much on them; that we should do the work solely out of love for God, and that the mark of an immature spirit is that we whine when the pleasures go away or don't come at all. And I thought, yep; I'm still pretty young at this.
That's the thing: it's hard to keep plugging away sometimes, whether you're plugging away at a job or school, at worship or meditation, or being in community or living in a relationship. There will always be times when you wonder why you bother; you just want to throw up your hands, toss all that hard work to the winds and try something new. But suddenly, for whatever reason, like a flock of geese, a moment of joy will burst into your life. And then, as the Dalai Lama says, we "remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck."
Keep your eyes open: there are probably some very silly geese out there somewhere, just waiting to bring you a little spark of happiness.