Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sacred heart

This weekend marks the annual Sequim Lavender Festival, which I am missing because I'm in rehearsals all day. But I was there a week or two ago, in the restful quiet that precedes the annual influx of tourists, and had a chance to visit a lavender farm or two.

I have lots of shots of the graceful rolling curves of lavender, but I prefer this one, sprinkled with the occasional volunteer poppies. For some reason this reminds me of a cartoon I read about this morning in Kabat-Zinn's book, Wherever You Go, There You Are.

The cartoon shows two Zen monks sitting cross-legged, one young, one old. The younger one is looking inquisitively at the older one, who is saying "Nothing comes next. This is it."

For me -- and I think this probably reveals how relatively young I am at this practice -- the "this is it" aspect of meditation is rather like staying focused on the lavender; very even and soothing, but a little boring, like the soft waves of the lavender. Maybe it's because I am a Christian, not a Buddhist, but what I love about meditation is being surprised by the occasional colorful burst of the sacred breaking in. It's like encountering poppies in a lavender field, these divine interventions: moments of pure joy that open me up to larger, more creative possibilities.

I'm not there for the poppies; I'm there for the lavender, and I love the settling in and the mindfulness and soothing peace of watching the breaths roll in and out. But the poppies are a wonderful, delicious side effect; a reminder that when I let go of all the petty things that occupy my mind and sink into the moment, the divine can break in like a spark of illumination and color my awareness of its universal presence; of the sacred that lies at the heart of the picture.

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