The minute I heard my first love storyRumi
I started looking for you,
not knowing how blind I was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.
Here in the northern hemisphere there are signs of the upcoming fall season, especially in colors across the hillsides. The squirrels have been more visible as they scurry along near bare branches. Neighborhood hydrangeas are fading and persimmons, grapes, and pomegranates are finishing their final ripening.
In the midst of the seasonal waning, a begonia plant on our back deck just sprouted an array of new leaves. Two weeks ago, it had nearly disappeared after deer had made a nighttime meal out of its foliage and stems. As if to protect the begonia from another foraging, a larger nearby plant had extended its canopy over the begonia’s new growth.
Imagine if several hundred years ago, colonization would have taken a very different path, allowing indigenous cultures to flourish unimpeded. Humans would have sustained an understanding of being part of, rather than superior to, nature. Plants, which make up nearly eighty percent of the earth’s biomass, might be viewed in the way they are in some ancient languages, as “those who take care of us.”
We might have recognized that within this earth school, plants are continually modeling their exquisite abilities to: adapt; peacefully care for and protect one another; let go; and, offer beauty, nourishment and support to the world. Particularly in their natural habitat, they harmoniously thrive in a dynamic and sophisticated community where understory plants, such as begonias, are as significant as the overstory.
While we are in the midst of multiple pandemics – health, social, climate, and economic – it can be challenging to be hopeful. Some of us have lost loved ones, others have lost homes, and others livelihoods. Still, the begonia on our back deck models a spirit of resilience, and its neighboring plant one of loving attentiveness. It inspires a deeper sense of gratitude for the grace of life. And, it causes me to ponder Rumi’s reminder that all is within all. Perhaps it is not an accident that this particular begonia is called an “angel wing.”
This short practice invites some inner ease.
- Find a comfortable seated position.
- If you are seating on a chair or bench, place the souls of your feet on the floor.
- Gently and slowly roll your shoulders around in each direction.
- Place your palms on your thighs and lean forward slightly.
- Three times, open your mouth wide and hiss like a cat.
- Then, turn your nose up toward the sky and sniff the air like a dog, turning your head from side to side 3-4 times.
- Give yourself a hug, each hand wrapped around the opposite upper arm. Accept being held – albeit by yourself.
- If comfortable for your shoulders, shrug your shoulders forward as you are hugging yourself. Feel the stretch and openness across the center of your back.
- Take a few deep breaths. Smile.
- Standing, bring your arms alongside your body.
- Rotate your wrists in both directions.
- Relax through your hands, arms still along the sides of your body.
- As though you were a bird, arc your arm slowly up from your sides to alongside your ears. And, then, lower them back down. (If you have shoulder issues, please adjust as needed.)
- Playfully and lightheartedly walk around the room, loosely flapping your arms as though you were flying.
- Continue for about a dozen times.
- Standing in one position, rhythmically sway from side to side.
- Pat yourself on the back and then give yourself another hug. Smile.
Transition back into your day –
- Come to a seated position. Allow your breath to return to a smooth and easy pace.
- Stay as long as you are comfortable.
- When you are ready, return to your day.
This poem is translated by Coleman Barks and appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 42, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.
H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2020.