There is a desert

I long to be walking,

a wide emptiness,

peace beyond any

understanding of it.

Rumi

I felt welcomed by the still darkness of the new moon sky.  All the universe seemed to be in a slumber.  The atmosphere was quiet as an invisible cloud cover shielded any light from the stars. The birds and neighborhood dogs had yet to stir.  Even the trees were soundless in the quiet, breezeless air.  

Although I was far from the Great Plains where I grew up, the boundless night evaporated all the miles and years to bring me home.  That place of home is where the dark nights absorb the sky and the land and erase any sense of separateness.  As a child, I would stand in awe of the immensity of such nights and felt that somehow a supreme, loving presence was everywhere, filling the darkness.

It seems fortunate to have a warm, childhood memory written into the shrouded nights.  It has the familiar and comforting texture of home, where you can settle in and ponder. The vastness seems like an empty stage, open to endless possibility.  Here, my own thoughts often ease into the calm stillness.  Nothing to know and nothing to need to know. Past, present, and even “the now” have no allure.

As the light of the day arises, I watch my thoughts come to life.  It has been a temporary respite.  I have had a glimpse of what Rumi calls “peace beyond any understanding of it.”   As the day moves on, I will carry that peaceful memory like a camel with its water.  It won’t be lost or hoarded – just carried along to be shared along the way.  Please join me.

Practice

This short practice offers quietude in the pre-dawn. If you have fear of darkness, please skip this practice.

Prepare – 

  • In early morning before sunrise, find a comfortable place where you can sit quietly in the dark.  
    • If inside, cover as much ambient light as you can, and leave the overhead lights off.
    • If outside, be wise about where you can sit undisturbed by outside lights, e.g., passing car lights.  Ensure you have chosen a place where you feel safe.  

Practice – 

  • With your eyes open, relax around the corners of your eyes and across the lids.
  • Imagine you are slowly easing yourself into the fresh sweetness of this early pre-dawn.
    • If helpful, systematically ease any unneeded tension in your muscles:
      • Across your face, your chest, your arms, your legs, and then your shoulders and back.
  • Then, just sit. 
  • Remember the sun will soon rise out of this quiet time of the day.

Transition back into your day – 

  • Sit quietly for a few moments.
  • When you are ready, begin your day.

This poem  is translated by Coleman Barks and appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 69, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  The photo is by Jeremy Bishop HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2020.

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