The weight of arrogance is suchSt. John of the Cross
that no bird can fly
And the man who feels superior
to others, that man
the real dance when the soul takes God
into its arms and you both fall
onto your knees in gratitude,
a blessed gratitude
The weight of arrogance is such that no bird can fly carrying it. And the man who feels superior to others, that man cannot dance, the real dance when the soul takes God into its arms and you both fall onto your knees in gratitude, a blessed gratitude for life. St. John of the Cross
The moon once again is fully bathed in the light of the sun, giving the appearance of a glowing disc in the night sky. Like the solar source of its radiance, the moon illumines the surface of the earth with a glistening luster.
As a child, I would pause outside on such nights, and be filled with a dual sense of a spooky eeriness and joyful astonishment. The land around my parents’ farm gleamed with a surreal translucence. The large buildings, such as a Quonset, and equipment such as tractors, had a ghostly weightlessness as though they were simply mirages floating within the moonlight. All was aglow, regardless of shape or size.
Now, several decades later, I am still captivated by this primordial dance of the moon endlessly cycling from being completely visible to invisible – all due to its orientation to the sun. I find the phases of the moon are a sobering reminder not only of ever-changing nature of my mind, but also of how the continual churnings of thoughts obscure clarity. Yet, about every thirty days, the light shines evenly and free of impediments, offering hope for my heart to soar in infinite luminosity, with untainted compassion.
Universally, sages, prophets, saints, and elders model our innate human capacity to reflect – and revere – the boundless radiance. They inspire us to recognize the sweet interconnectedness of all life, where no spirit is superior to the other and where each is a precious part of the whole. The Indian poet Tukaram offers an image of all life belonging on God’s “jeweled dance floor.” Navajo wisdom offers steady reverence for the earth, sky, moon, sun, and all beings. And, the mystic St. John of the Cross honors the ever-present grace of divine light, inviting us to let it freely shine in gratitude for this hallowed life.
I continually venture to embody the wisdom that lives within natural phenomena and sacred poetry, and hope you will join me.
This short practice invites appreciation of the sacredness of the earth.
- Choose a place where you can be undisturbed for a few minutes. If you are using your phone for this mini-practice, consider placing it on silent. Also, if comfortable, remove your shoes.
- Standing (Note: if your balance is feeling unstable, feel free to be seated for this portion.)
- Slowly rotate your right ankle, a few times one direction and then the other.
Repeat with your left ankle.
- Gently lift up the toes on your right foot and spread them apart. Then, curl them under. Repeat a few times and then do the same on your left foot.
- Lightly tap one foot on the floor a few times, then the other.
- Standing quietly.
- Pause. As best as you can, balance between your left and right side, and front and back.
- Notice where your feet are touching the surface beneath you.
- If inside, acknowledge the floor and all the resources that made the floor. If wooden, for example, acknowledge source of the wood, e.g. the trees, as well as the humans that laid the planks of the floor, and all the earthly resources that nourished them so that they could do the work. Acknowledge the concrete foundation, and the stones from the riverbed that made the concrete, and the waters.
- Whether inside or outside, acknowledge the soil and its life, e.g., the insects and microbes. Then acknowledge the layers of earth, e.g., the rocks and whatever is unique to where you are.
- Wherever you are, acknowledge the First Peoples of the land of your area.
- Still standing, begin to slowly walk for a few minutes, e.g., in a small circle
- Consider all the life beneath your feet. As invited by Thich Nhat Hanh, “walk as though your feet are kissing the earth.” Consider also the awareness that the earth is kissing your feet.
- Pause again, standing quietly.
- Reach your hands upward to the sky.
- Imagine that you are receiving the luminous light of a full moon through your open hands, and that light is pouring down your arms into your torso and down through your legs to your feet.
- Lightly touch the top your head with your fingertips and imagine as though that light is washing away all tendencies toward judgement and self-centeredness with joyful love, compassion, and equanimity.
- Then, rest your hands over your heart center with remembrance that the four horizontal directions begin and end with the light of your own heart.
- With gratitude for the gift of life, say “thank you.”
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 verse appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 11, 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.