Saturday, January 1, 2011

Doing and non-doing

This was the scene that greeted me this morning as I awakened into the new year.  And so I took my camera with me as I stepped out into the cold to walk the dog, to capture this moment of peace to share with you.  It was a time to be quiet, to observe, to be still and watch the movement of the birds and the rising of the light.

And, as usual, Jack Kornfield was right there with me in today's reading from  After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: here's what he had to say:

"In the natural world we find the teaching of doing and non-doing.  Trees bear fruit and fall dormant; otters, bears, and spotted trout sleep and wake; day alternates with night, and summer with winter.

Often we feel that we must be making a continual effort to enact our bodhisattva intentions, or else we are failures or lazy.  But the wider community of being tells us that without the winter-chill months of dormancy, there can be no apples.  Stillness, non-doing and listening are as important and essential as action in the mandala of awakened life.

Thomas Merton cautions us:
     'To allow oneself to be carried away 
     by a multitude of conflicting concerns, 
     to surrender to too many demands, 
     to commit to too many projects, 
     to want to help everyone in everything 
     is itself to succumb to the violence of our times.'

Sometimes it is necessary to march; sometimes it is necessary to sit, to pray.  Each in turn can bring the heart and the world back to balance.  For us to act wisely, our compassion must be balanced with equanimity, the ability to let things be as they are.  Just as our passionate heart can be touched by the sorrows of the world, so too we must remember that it is not our responsibility to fix all the brokenness of the world -- only to fix what we can."

It's so helpful for me to read this today, when I am struggling with the urge to fix so many things around me that seem to be broken.  But as I sit in prayer and try just to hold them all with grace, I see that my prayers are indeed being answered.  Not necessarily in the ways I had hoped or imagined.  But there are glimmers of light and hope as the new year begins, and for that I am sincerely grateful.

Happy New Year!


Maureen said...

What a gorgeous morning to find waiting for your eyes!

The Merton quote appeared on another blog I read somewhere this morning. It's a wonderful quote.

Wishing you peace, love, and success in the New Year.

Louise Gallagher said...

What a beautiful sight and I am so grateful you shared it wiht us -- especially as snow and gray clouds lock in our day.

I spent the day creatin vision pages at the front and back of my journal -- it was blissful!



Joyce Wycoff said...

The Merton quote is new to me and really makes me pause. Thanks for sharing it ... and I'm lusting after your sunrise ... I think we still have one in sunny California but I'm not quite sure anymore.