It is therePawnee Wisdom
that our hearts are set,
In the expanse
of the heavens.
Outside the open bedroom window, the sound of birds escorting another day into being. Even before the had light arrived, new sounds accompanied the melodic chirps and warbles. There were the familiar signals that it was a Tuesday, with the clanking of the lids of the trash bins as the garbage workers made their way up the street. For a short while, there was the scratching sound of a metal rake against cement as a neighbor tended to the weekly sidewalk grooming.
In spite of the newness of the day seeping through the window, the walls of our apartment were still infused with the pre-dawn silence. Being as noiseless as possible, I dressed and made my way out the front door for a daily offering of seeds for the birds. As I closed the door, a squirrel scurried up a nearby oak tree and paused motionless on a lower branch, silently gazing in my direction.
Just as sunlight began to make its way through the tree’s branches, the squirrel scampered onward, causing a mini shower of leaves and acorns in its wake. It became still. The raking and clanking had long since stopped and the birds had quieted. Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there would have been a constant stream of sounds, such as the chatter of children making their way to school. Now, there was only the noiseless presence of the light and the oak.
A spider web glistened as the sun’s rays made it into the higher branches of the tree. The anchoring strands reached unimaginable distances from one another. At the center of roundish spirals was the weaver of this shimmering masterpiece. The spider had a plump body with its two lobes forming the shape of a figure eight, or the sign of infinity. There was such symmetry in the evenly spaced protrusions from the body that I assume it had all eight of its legs, allowing it to freely navigate across its web.
As the sun’s rays shifted, the spider and its web disappeared, perfectly camouflaged within the lattice of the tree’s branches. Even though no longer visible, the web surely remained, not only as a home for the spider but also as a net to entangle some unsuspecting insect.
I continue to marvel at the timeless wisdom woven into everyday occurrences in the natural world. Just within a few moments on a fall morning, there had been lessons of infinite potentiality, stillness, interconnectedness, patience, and resilience. There had been reminders of the steady, peaceful essence cloaked by the ever-changing earthly cycles of day to night, and of season to season. There had been the sense of belonging to a larger whole, within which there is ample room for the diverse expressions of existence.
If a bird can sing and a spider can spin silvery threads into intricate webs, then surely contemporary humanity can rediscover our gift to appreciate, respect and care for one another, and for all life. I will try to arise each morning with this reminder, and hope you will join me.
This short practice invites appreciation of wholeness.
- Slowly and gently, shake out your right leg for about a minute. Then, your left leg, followed by each of your arms. As you shake, imagine you’re are releasing and letting go of tendencies toward jealousy, resentment, selfishness, anger, and overconsuming in all aspects of your life, e.g., food, ideas
- Quietly walk in a clockwise circle, as small or large as you like. Then, stand in the circle’s center. Turn toward the east and pause. If you don’t know where to face, just choose to face in one direction.
- With an inhale, sweep your arms out to the sides and overhead. Pause for a breath with your arms overhead as though greeting the expanse of the heavens.
- If you have shoulder impingements, please adjust this movement to your comfort level.
- On your next exhale, bring your arms to your sides with your palms facing inward toward your body. Pause for a breath as though acknowledging the stability of the earth.
- Repeat the following four times:
- On your next inhalation, stretch your arms out in front of you, palms upward. Pause for a breath in appreciation of all that life in that direction to the furthest distance.
- On an exhalation, bring your palms together over your heart center. Pause for a breath in gratitude for all the nourishes you from that direction.
- Take a quarter turn to your right. On your last turn, you will be facing your initial position.
- Pause. Acknowledge the full cycle of breath, i.e., each exhalation seamlessly arising as the inhalation ends, and v.v. Take several breaths with this awareness.
- Come to a seated position. Allow your hands to rest in your lap or on your legs. Become aware of your surroundings in all directions. Imagine that all those directions are come together at the core of your being. Simply breathe in, and out.
Transition back into your day –
- Sit quietly.
- Bring your palms together in front of your heart center, and “thank you.”
- When you are ready, return to your day.
The verse is translated by Frances Densmore and appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 5, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. Photo by S. Lukka. H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2020.