Yesterday afternoon my husband left a little before 5 for a physical therapy appointment, and I found myself alone in the house -- a rarity these days. My first thought was -- ah, meditation time -- and so I sat in my favorite chair and began to gather my thoughts. (Isn't that a lovely image, gathering your thoughts? I picture it as a shepherd, rounding up his sheep and then wrapping the fence around them, like loving arms...)
But the fact is, I only meditate once a day, in the morning; can't figure out how to settle down (or get the animals or my husband to settle down) in the afternoon. So instead of taking advantage of the quiet time I got distracted by the light and shadows on my Buddha. Instead of meditating I got up and fetched my camera and spent about 20 minutes photographing that shadow on his shoulder.
It's KIND of like meditation, right? To look, and really see? At any rate the light was so strong on him that the background came out really dark, and so, having photographed my art scarf for Kim earlier in the day, it seemed obvious that the two images belonged together. And I find it surprisingly moving to SEE them together: it's as if I'm looking at myself -- the part of me that loves the stillness and peace of the buddha, and the part of me that loves art and beauty and color. But of course they also symbolize that tension in me between the spiritual side and the earthy acquisitive side. (Can I just say this? I didn't even wear that scarf for the first year I owned it. It felt too showy, too artsy for humble old me, and so it lay on top of a dresser, draped in all its glory...)
Given where this post seems to be headed, I think that instead of sharing what Tolbert McCarroll says about detachment this morning, I'll share what he says about Peace -- it'll be clear why when you get to the end of the quote.
You long for peace, yet there is no such thing as peace...Peace is simply the absence of troubles and worries. Troubles and worries are your attempts to control your future... If you forget the future you will have no trouble with this moment -- this now. Anything that disturbs you is in the future. Sit down and there is not trouble now--or now--or now--or now. Make your life a series of nows. That is how you were meant to live.
Do not make a goal of inner peace. Peace is the absence of war, the cessation of hostilities, the end of striving. You go spinning around, fighting with yourself, with others, or with life itself. If you stop the fight you will find peace...you stop the fight when you stop acting as if you are different than you are and stop your longing for what others have...
Come...walk out into the garden. Sit here in your chair. Rest. Be still. While you have been striving, the tree and the wind have been dancing together. Look at them. How beautifully they move together. No matter what happens to them, all will be well. For they are being themselves. They are not acting like things they are not. Neither are they denying what they are. You are a wind to a tree, and a tree to a wind. Be yourself. Do not live beneath your nature and all will be well with you.
So yes. I took the time to sit. I did not meditate as I had intended. But I looked, and I saw, and that is a big piece of what I was born to do. There is no need to beat myself up for getting my camera -- and I can rejoice, in my pleasure in both this lovely inexpensive buddha and in this beautiful expensive scarf. Together they are what I was in that moment, when I was just... being now. And in this case, the fact that my focus was on things, not on spirit, was probably okay. As today's Rumi piece from Spirituality and Practice says:
If a spiritual explanation alone were sufficient,
the creation of the world
would have been vain and pointless.
If love were only spiritual,
the practices of fasting and prayer would not exist.
The gifts of lovers to one another are,
in respect to love, nothing but forms;
yet, they testify to an invisible love.
[Rumi, Mathnawi I, 2625-27]
Yes, the scarf and the Buddha are merely forms. But together they testify to an invisible love.