yet one word
frees us from all the weight and pain in life:
That word is love.
Trans. by Robert Fitzgerald
I noticed a small rip in the flowery blue fabric. This caused me to look a little more closely at the quilt that I had had for about three decades. It seemed impossible that wear would ever show on something that had been carefully stitched by one of my grandmothers—my mother’s mother. She was a corseted, strong woman who had always seemed to be the essence of durability. Her patterns were as firm as the shapes on the quilt.
More than one hundred clusters of colorful hexagons span the quilt’s surface. Like many who have little money, my grandmother let nothing go to waste. She had pieced together a home by patiently and creatively using and re-using whatever was available. The quilt, which is aptly called “Grandmother’s Flower Garden,” represents how she turned scraps into a lasting story of quiet love.
The hexagonal form of the quilt pieces is the most efficient use of material. Bees construct their honeycombs with hexagonal shapes, where each side fits together without leaving gaps. Hexagons are found elsewhere in nature, such as in DNA, snowflakes, and crystals, as well as a large cloud formation over the north pole of the planet Saturn. The heart of two interlocking triangles—one facing upward and one downward—forms a hexagon, symbolically representing eternal, divine love flowing between heaven and earth.
True love seldom, if ever, looks for recognition. It just continues to express itself in different ways throughout our lives. For the most part, it is masked over by the despair and stress of mortal existences. Yet, there are the bees diligently pollinating plants and making honeycombs, and the quilting bees of women sitting around a table, stitching together the front and back of quilts. Their efforts and work remain mostly anonymous until there is a tear, or a decline in their population. Then we notice that the loving infrastructure is more fragile that we had imagined.
For a long while, I had dismissed Sophocles’ words on love. They seemed to offer easy terminology to respond to the suffering of others. The simple phrase “frees us” shifted my perspective inward to recognize that, at the core of kindness, compassion, and service is a hexagonal garden of love. To know—and to be—that love is a lifetime of focus and work. I hope to take one small step each day by noticing a bit more of the lessons within everyday life.
This practice supports your awareness of love.
- Find a quiet location. Silence your phone and other devices off or to airplane mode.
- Seated, gently shake out through your arms and legs. Then, stretch out in any way that feels comfortable for you, e.g., reach one arm up and lean to the side.
- Allow your hands to relax in your lap. Take a few smooth, easy breaths, perhaps noticing the gentle opening and releasing in your chest as you breathe.
- Imagine yourself surrounded by six luminous orbs, each infused with love.
- One sphere beneath you, one above you, one around each shoulder, and one around each hip. (This is like a circle of love around you.)
- With your hands resting in a comfortable position, e.g., on your lap, take six breaths – Inhaling, invite each orb to slowly grow outward until it slightly overlaps with the adjoining sphere. Exhaling, allow the glow of each orb to be a little brighter and softer.
- Rest one hand on top of the other over the center of your chest, symbolically, your heart-center. Imagine that beneath your hands, there is another glowing ball of love.
- Take another six breaths – Inhaling, invite the love from the core of your heart to grow outward until it enfolds all the other circles. Exhaling, allow yourself to be bathed in love. Every cell, every atom of your being is soaked in love. For just one moment, allow yourself to let go into this ocean of love. Be love.
Transition Back into Your Day–
- Sit quietly for a few moments.
- Lightly touch your nose, mouth, eyes, ears, cheeks, and skull. As you do this, invite the memory of ever-present love to settle into all your senses and your mind.
- When you are ready, return to your day.
This reflection is an excerpt from Our Inherited Wisdom: 54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry, Kate Vogt, Pages 320-325. HEARTH is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2023.
Please join me this summer for “Transcendental Love” –
3 Thursdays (June 22 and 29, and July 6), 3:10 – 4:30 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, Zoom. For information and to register, please visit the College of Marin Community Education website.