Come quickly – as soon as
these blossoms open,
they fall.
This world exists
as a sheen of a dew on flowers

Izumi Shikibu

This has been a busy week with a lot of driving, errands, work, and just trying to squeeze a full week into three days. My husband Jay and I had taken a four-day weekend to be part of the 100th anniversary of my family’s wheat farm in Western Kansas.

For me, busyness always amplifies my awareness of the raw nature of existence. As I hurtle along the freeway or dash in and out of buildings, time collapses. Within what seems to be less than a second, I have left someplace and arrived at another. Just as soon as a new moment arises, it dies and another new moment arises.

Similar awareness of the impermanence of worldly reality might arise while noticing my breath or mind. Thoughts and emotions come and go and the breath flows in and out. The cells in my body are constantly replacing themselves. Even smiles arise and disappear. Within the macrocosm, twilight merges into dawn, dawn into full day, day into dusk, twilight, and nighttime.

When life is compressed, I have a glimpse of the beautiful, yet tenuous interconnectivity of our species and the planet, as well as the mystery of divine light.   I am reminded of my father, who without words, shared reverence for God and the grace of God’s light to enliven the world, and the universal life cycle of the plants, the sky, and all beings.

Instead of expounding on his views, my father offered practical insight into how to respect the gift of life within all its changes. He regularly commented that life is on loan. He would add that we own nothing other than the responsibility to care for that which is in our care. There is nowhere to get to and nothing to accomplish other than to do the best we can with what we have in each moment.

Practice

This short practice offers awareness of the ebb and flow of life.

  • Prepare –
    • Find a comfortable seated position. If seated in a chair, place both feet on the floor. Breathe a few easy breaths.
  • Practice –
    • Sustain a slowly, smooth, and even quality to your breath. If it feels rushed or jagged, adjust the pace until the quality is silken, with minimal disturbance in the transitions. For twelve breaths:
      • Inhale
        • If you have a respiratory condition, choose what is comfortable for you, e.g., simply sitting quietly; or, continuing with the breath while lessening your attention to the inhalation and gently pursing your lips on the exhalations.
      • Exhale
      • Continue for six breaths. Allow your awareness to settle on your breath. You are just breathing in, and breathing out.
        • If you have a belief or faith, bring in the appropriate awareness of the divine within each breath.
      • If comfortable, continue for another six breaths. Savor the sweet, gentleness ebb and flow of the breath.
      • Allow the awareness of your breath to fade into the background.
  • Transition Back into Your Day –
    • Sit quietly for a few moments.
    • When you are ready, return to your day.

This poem is translated by Jane Hirshfield and reprinted with permission in Mala Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 118, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. .

HEARTH is posted each new and full moon and written by Kate Vogt. To learn more about Kate Vogt and her “Living Wisdom . . . every day,” please visit katevogt.com.  KateVogt©2019.    HEARTH is transitioning to a new home — sign up and location to be announced soon.

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