invited you to a party and
“Everyone in the ballroom tonight will
be my special
how would you then treat them when you arrived?
And Hafiz knows that there is no one in
this world who is not standing upon
His jeweled dance
The trunk glistened on what was otherwise a modest redwood tree. Some of its branches were filled with greenery reaching upward and others were bare, slopping downward. Its bark was a little greyer than some of its neighbors, but on this morning, it glowed with a golden radiance. It seemed to be joyfully returning the kiss of the dawn’s light.
As the sun rose, the tree blended into the background. The early morning rays caressed every hilltop, street, and roof. A few crows and smaller birds glided through the sky. Slowly, shapes and forms appeared in greater and greater detail. It seemed as though the first kiss of light had given birth to another day of activity. Light with radiant reciprocity pulsed through every leaf, flower, and grain of sand.
Life is spun of this constant grace of light. Not only does solar energy sustain all earthly forms, but a nameless luminosity shines within, bringing light to all existence. The redwood and other species in nature steadily grow, reflecting and absorbing the light. In the fall season, countless deciduous trees echo the golden yellows, oranges and reds of the rising and setting sun. Their colorful leaves are released from the tree, and fall to the ground to create a carpet for new growth.
Glistening objects are everywhere in nature – mica, gemstones, silken furs – yet the bland and unnoticeable are equally living expressions of light. There are battles and contests for survival, but the light remains an equitable presence, untouched by time and space. Light holds the heart of existence.
Within different traditions, the closing of the calendar year has a celebration of light. Whether it is the flame of a candle or a string of sparkling lights, it is a call to luminously receive the ever-present kiss of illumination. Still, it is a challenge for us as humans not to chase after and try to own the golden object. It is also a challenge for us to accept that we are neither superior or inferior, and to realize that we are beings of light. In the light, we can fully see and compassionately heal our individual and collective fears, grief, and expectations.
As the poet Hafiz reminds us, we are all guests on this “jeweled dance floor.” May this season of light inspire all of us to ponder how we can be like the redwood tree, humbly returning the kiss of the light within every thought, gesture, and word.
This short practice invites awareness of light.
- Sit in a quiet place. Turn your device to airplane and/or silence to minimize the disruptions for the next few minutes.
- Look around wherever you are.
- Notice any plants or items that are made of plant material, e.g., wooden floor, fabric, baskets. Acknowledge the life process of that plant or plant item, especially the significance of solar light to its growth.
- Notice any candles or electrical lights. Acknowledge the light that they offer. Perhaps also acknowledge the source of the energy allowing them to be a source of light.
- With your eyelids closed, rest your eyes in your palms.
- Invite an easeful, gentle breath. Relax around your jaw and temples.
- Remove your hands. Slowly move your eyes left to right, up and down, and diagonally from one upper corner to the opposite lower corner. Acknowledge the gift of sight and its relationship to earthly light.
- Hold your hands palms upward in front of your chest. Relax through the center of your palms, between the fingers, and along your wrists and fingertips.
- Imagine they are holding a golden luminous presence.
- Smile and imagine this radiance is filling your entire being.
- Place one hand over the center of your chest – your heart center – and then place your other hand on top.
- Allow your eyes to rest in a gentle gaze, or be softly closed.
- Feel the touch and weight of your hands on your chest.
- Invite a sense of being comforted and held by the most loving, generous, compassionate, caring and selfless being.
- Smile as you welcome this loving presence into every pore of your mind and body.
- Stay here for several moments, allowing your breath to become smooth and easeful.
- Lift your fingertips to your eyelids, then your ears, nose and mouth. Pause for a breath or two at each of your sensory organs.
- Place your hands on the opposite upper arm. Invite a smooth easeful breath as your arms are crossed across your chest.
- Then, sequentially rest your hands for a moment on your thighs, lower belly, navel area, heart, throat, and crown of your head.
- Return your hands over your heart and pause.
- Quietly say to yourself, “I release sarcasm, rudeness, pride-fulness, clinging, delusion, and greed.” “I invite in clarity, trust, receptivity, justice, discernment, responsibility, decency, courage, equanimity, love, compassion, and light.”
- Then touch your fingertips to your forehead, lips, and heart as if to seal in your prayerful message to yourself. May all your thoughts, attitudes, and words be energized with this awareness.
Transition back into your day –
- Find a place where you can sit quietly for a few moments.
- When you are ready, return to your day.
The poem is translated by Daniel Ladinsky and appears on page 40 in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, 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.