what happens to the scale
when love


Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Ancestors.  That was what was on my mind as I gathered oak leaves from our deck.  With each stroke of the broom, I felt reminded that behind every living being is an ancestral story.  Whether known or unknown, the ancestors are present in the continual making of that tale.

It seemed like a mundane task to be sweeping leaves after the recent winds and rains had loosened them from the tree.  Yet, I felt graced by the vitality and generous abundance of the oak tree branching over our deck.  Squirrels and winter birds were surviving the chillier months because of this tree.  And, the leaves I was gathering would eventually become usable compost to nourish other plant life.

The oak tree reminded me of my grandmothers.  Like the oak, they were the living embodiment of resilience and strength.  Their presence exuded a noble beauty.  They were wise, well-grounded and had an expansive reach; furthermore, they were endlessly resourceful in addressing their challenging conditions and situations.

As I swept, I felt the loving connection of life’s ancestries.  The broom moved back and forth.  I stood still between the side-to-side movement. The present holding the past and the future.  Seen and unseen simultaneously present.  Everything breathing together.  The trees exhaling usable oxygen, and then taking in the carbon dioxide offered by humans and other moving beings.  Divine love infusing the to and fro, removing all separation, revealing love, pure love.

This practice supports awareness of love from the inside out.


  • Hug yourself. Shift so that your other arm is on top, and re-hug yourself.
  • Gently squeeze each arm, one arm at a time, using the opposite hand. Begin at your shoulder, then move down to your elbow and then your wrist and hand.
  • Pretend to wash your face with your fingertips.
    • For example, gently brush your fingertips up from your eyebrows to the hairline, and then down across your temples and cheeks.


  • Find a comfortable seated position, either on a chair or on the floor.
    • Allow your spine to be in a neutral, upright position and your breath to be free and unhindered.
  • Rest the back of one hand, i.e., palm upward, in the center of your lap.
  • Then, as though holding hands with yourself, rest the other palm in the palm in your lap (i.e., the palm is upward on your lower palm; and downward on the upper. The palms are at a 90-degree angle).
    • Imagine that your lower palm is the hand of your most loving friend.
      • Relax the muscles in that arm. Invite the relaxation to flow from your heart-center, shoulder blades, shoulder, entire arm, and fingers.
    • Invite your upper hand to soften and receive the loving support.
  • Allow your eyes to gently close, or find a soft gaze.  Relax the muscles across your face. Allow your breath to be soft and smooth.
  • Stay for as long as comfortable, preferably at least one minute with each hand on top.

Transition Back into Your Day— 

  • Place the backs of both hands on your thighs. Invite a few full, gentle inhalations and exhalations. Allow for a slight pause between your inhales and exhales.
  • Sit quietly for a few moments.
  • Give yourself a hug and sincerely say to yourself, “I love you.”
  • When you are ready, transition back into your day.

This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 34, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  The practice is from Our Inherited Wisdom:  54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry, authored by Kate Vogt, page 317-318.  Photo by Jan Huber.  H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon on katevogt.com.  KateVogt©2024.


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