Monday, January 18, 2010

Lessons in the Forest

When we go into a forest that has not been interfered with by man, our thinking mind will only see disorder and chaos all around us…Only if we are still enough inside and the noise of thinking subsides can we become aware that there is a hidden harmony here, a sacredness, a higher order in which everything has its perfect place and could not be other than what it is and the way it is.”
Eckhart Tolle, Oneness With All Life

Having spent some time in a pretty messy forest this weekend (though, as you can see from this sign, not completely untouched by human hands), it was wonderful to approach it having just read the above lines from Tolle -- and to see that these thoughts are hardly new.

I could begin to see that some things are growing and others are rotting and decaying, and that each process seems to feed the other. It was a gentle reminder -- again -- that good and bad, light and dark, death and life coexist in a holy balance, and it is only our projection, our attachment to form -- and to its continuation -- that separates them and assigns value to one over the other. I was, as Wordsworth says, letting nature be my teacher.

But of course I don't always think and feel that clearly -- as I had plenty of opportunity to observe last night and this morning. When I went through the mail that had arrived over the weekend (and how fortuitous is this?) I discovered that our tide calendars had finally arrived, so I just happened to check the tides for this morning and realized they would be high right when I would need to leave for this morning's car appointment.

And, again, I "just happened" to look over at the barometer and notice that it was riding unseasonably low, which means the tide would be higher even than predicted (with less air pressure, the water rises). So I moved the car to higher ground and went to bed, only to be awakened by a fierce windstorm (out of the south, thankfully; it's the ones from the north that want to slam the logs into the house) about an hour and a half later.

A quick look at said that, indeed, there were both high tide and high wind warnings through til 10 this morning, so I padded around the house in my jammies, moving things away from the garage door (in case the tide comes in) and battening down the deck chairs so they wouldn't blow away. I tried to move the other car to higher ground, but it wouldn't start, so I just had to leave it where it was and head back to bed: I had done my best.

Any sudden awakening gives me an adrenalin rush, and of course we are all haunted by the devastating images of Haiti these days (speaking of which, Episcopal mission friends tell me there are two more great places to contribute if you want to help: Partners in Health, and The Children's Medical Mission in Haiti) so I was pretty wired up, with visions of incipient devastation dancing through my head.

But I was also very tired, so I did eventually fall back asleep. By morning the wind had died down considerably, but the tide was clearly high and rising, and I spent much of my meditation period not being in the present, but running what-if scenarios. Which means I was resisting, fearful, protective, reactive -- all those things that happen when we get attached to form.

It makes sense that I'd respond that way, of course, but it was also good to be able to step back and see that there is a deeper peace, a deeper value, that goes beyond the "stuff" we might face or the "stuff" we stand to lose.

In the end it was all good: the tide WAS really high, but it didn't come in the garage, and didn't get TOO high over the wheel wells of the car that wouldn't start. I managed to get to my drivable car without water pouring into my boots, and though more of the road was underwater than I'd seen before, it wasn't deep enough to cause any trouble, and I made it to the car dealer right on time. Yes, the repairs are going to be PAINFULLY expensive, but given our 100,000 plus miles of service, it's probably time we paid for the privilege of having such a reliable vehicle -- it's been incredibly inexpensive to maintain up til now.

So -- yeah. Even if I can't keep myself from reacting to what appears to be bad, I can step back enough to see that there is value all around me. Am I turning into a Pollyanna? Perhaps. But that could be a nice change from the fearful reactive mode that often consumes me... As Tolle says, later on in the same book, in a passage I read just this morning:

"People who look upon the present moment as either marred by something that has happened or as deficient because of something that has not happened but should have... miss the deeper perfection that is inherent in life itself, a perfection that is always already here, that lies beyond what is happening or not happening, beyond form. Accept the present moment and find the perfection that is deeper than any form and untouched by time."

I'm not there yet -- that's clear. But it helps to see that's where I could be heading...


Maureen said...

. . . and to let the Light guide you.

M.L. Gallagher said...

Where ever you are at Diane -- your shine beautifully.

Thank you for sharing your process and your insight so gracefully.

karen gerstenberger said...

I love that sign in the forest. It's true wisdom, and a gift. Thank you for posting it for us to share! XO

KimQuiltz said...

Love the last quote...I struggle between the practice of appreciating what IS and the need to go out and change what IS all the I making any sense?

There is a difference between laying down and letting the truck run you over and accepting that the truck ran you over.

Hmmm, still no sense. LOL