I was delighted with myself,
having offered everything that I had;
my heart, my faith, my work.
“And who are you,” you said,
“to think you have so much to offer?
It seems you have forgotten
where you’ve come from.”
Trans. by Coleman Barks
“Moon.” It was simple one-word exclamation. Yet, to be sure that I understood her latest discovery, my youngest neighbor – a toddler named Natalia – reached her arm toward the sunny afternoon sky and pointed. She repeated, “moon?,” although this time with an inflection of curiosity.
As I mimicked her – pointing upward and whispering moon – Natalia beamed at having successfully communicated. She was with her grandmother, who seemed equally proud. Apparently Natalia was excited about her new understanding that the moon is up there in the daytime sky, and had been testing everyone along their afternoon walk.
It seemed like such an insignificant interaction, yet it caused me to ponder the ethics within our verbal exchanges, e.g., honesty, humility. There is so much that happens within milliseconds. Natalia had, in her own childhood way, deemed me as a grown-up who would responsibly respond to her in that moment.
Part of my pondering came about because it was a day of a new moon, when the moon is not only absorbed in the nighttime hues but invisible during the daytime. Our minds in many ways are similar to the moon, with the potentiality to fully reflect the luminosity of eternal truth. Yet, for the most part, our mind only catches glimpses of the truth.
The Sufi and poet Rumi reminds me that, within the shadowy orbits of life, I should remember that my human mind is vulnerable to misperception. I found his words helpful as I reflected on how trustingly Natalia looked to others for affirmation with her learning to communicate and navigate the social nuances of human connections. She offered a small lesson in the humility of remembering the deep responsibility that comes when someone asks for our advice or opinion. In the coming weeks, I hope to continue to reflect on the gift from Natalia . . . and the moon.
This short practice invites awareness of inner awareness.
- Find a quiet spot where you can sit with minimal distractions or interruptions.
- If seated on a chair or bench, evenly rest the soles of your feet on the floor.
- Take a moment to shake out through your arms and roll out through your shoulders.
- Then, sit quietly with your hands comfortably resting on your thighs. Invite awareness to your breath. Just take notice of how it feels in this moment, e.g., raspy, calm, and smooth?
- For each of the following, take six breaths. Invite your breath to be smooth and even:
- Close your eyes (and take six breaths)
- Again with your eyes closed, place your middle fingers on your eyelids, index fingers on your forehead, and thumbs on your temples (again, take six breaths)
- Repeat the previous by moving your thumbs onto your ear flaps, i.e., closing off the outer sounds (again, take six breaths)
- Note: you may wish to lightly rest your ring fingers on the outer edges of your nostrils and your little fingers on the corners of your mouth.
- Relax your hands in lap. Sit quietly, either with your eyes closed or resting in a soft gaze.
- Notice any areas of your body where you may be holding extra tension. Gently shift your awareness to an area that feels tense. Invite more calmness and relaxation into that area with each inhale, letting go of tension on the exhales. Repeat with as many areas of your body as you wish.
Transition back into your day –
- 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 31, 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©2021.