Monday, August 15, 2011

Now and then

Part of the charm of this camp where I spent last week was the timelessness of it: this picture could so easily have been taken 50 years ago -- or more.  The girls run around in middies and bloomers, the tents and cabins and surrounding woods seem timeless, and there are no electronic devices permitted, so the children are not constantly texting, or checking email, or playing video games -- though magic cards are very much in evidence.

But because those electronic distractions are missing, the children have an opportunity to actually see each other and their surroundings, to revel in sunlight and shadow and the sound of the gulls and the waves; to relate directly to one another and to their counselors and staff; to learn new skills and perfect old ones.

We are generally inclined to appreciate the new devices that now so dominate our lives, and the enhanced sense of connection they bring: we respond to their little chirps with delight, thinking something good may be coming.  But I suspect it would be good to make a conscious effort to set them aside from time to time and allow ourselves to see and feel the world again as it was before TV, computers and smartphones...

I love the Rumi poem for today -- it's a great wake-up call:

We are being taught like a donkey.
A donkey thinks whoever brings hay is God.

In the same way, we are gnostics,
each with a unique experience
of what binds and what releases us.

We hear the voice of that and our ears
twitch like the donkey who hears his trainer.

Oats may be coming, and water!
What have you been given that is like that?

Confinement, you complain.  Stick your head out.
That is all that will fit through
the five-sense opening.

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