I wonder how many times letting go is accepting what has already gone.
When reading a book, I have been known to pause at the end of a chapter. I like to sit with good writing and let it wash over me. Sometimes, the better the writing, the longer it takes me to finish a book, as sentence after sentence illuminates.
This past week has been one of letting go, recognizing that a beacon now shines in another direction. It no longer lights my path, and I pause in acceptance and gratitude but also in love and loss.
I change my routine and walk away from the written word. I call a good friend and say, “Let’s have coffee.”
We did, which was stimulating for my mind-body and lasted into the evening. I do not remember the last time I drank a cup of coffee, much less two.
I was awake most of the night but this brief foray into the world was not one I regret. All day long, there were smiles and no doubt a bit of giddiness. And when this moment revisits, it will wash over gently in remembrance.
Not all the week’s memories will be so kind but that is also the life experience. I continue to work with a group of women committed to a better world through the written word—we wrote a book together–through our resistance, we join a larger grassroots movement. That path is not without its obstacles.
There is so much light in this group it sometimes blinds me–I step back–before I can once again bathe in the light that is these women. Here, I know wonder again, the kindness of human beings and of what they are capable–so much good, which is so easy to forget.
Only to the extent that we expose ourselves
over and over to annihilation
can that which is indestructible
be found in us.
Pema Chödrön in When Things Fall Apart
This quotation is from a sign that Chödrön had on her wall before she embraced Buddhism in any form. She said it was her first inkling to the core of Buddhist teaching.
It hurts when things fall apart but in letting go— experiencing groundlessness–there is at the very least familiarity if not comfort. For me, the more I open myself to the impermanence that is life– exposing myself to the annihilation— the less I struggle with accepting there is no ground beneath my feet.
Groundlessness is never all dark. Always, there is light, be it a sliver or a beacon, and I immerse myself in it. I know it will not stay and that when it leaves, I will discover something I did not know previously.
And on mornings like these when I know the light is already gone— some lights are that bright— my heart is not heavy but joyful. Yes, there are tears– for light is always love–sometimes a great one. I know only gratitude in that it lit my path for a mere moment.
It will live on in the caverns of my heart, this light, for there are still shadows that reside there. Each time such a light crosses my path, my heart opens just a bit more to the world around me, no matter how difficult a moment.
I now appreciate that the bodhisattva’s greatest power is compassion. My practice is limited, of course, but I know of no other that can dismantle fear, perhaps even crack open a heart or not.
Compassion extended may be felt in days yet to come.That is not for me to know nor should it be.
Rather, I return to the wisdom of the written word. This time, May Sarton’s “loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.” Of all this past week brought me, it was not poverty of self.
As I told my friend yesterday, it is Zen that opens me to my life. I’m not afraid, which is not to say I am fearless. My knees wobble and threaten to buckle from time to time.
I anticipate less. Often, I forget about expectations altogether so when fear comes calling, I respect its appearance of power but recognize its façade. And that is the result of only a sliver of light in my heart.
Imagine a heart full of light–not a shadow to be found–when risk and grace are intertwined as one and the bud bursts into bloom–one bright, shining moment.