losing its name
enters the sea
I stared out of the window of the train in anticipation of the first glimmers of morning light. Along with most of the train’s passengers, I boarded in the heart of Manhattan pre-dawn and was headed to one of the area airports. A childlike part of me was filled with curiosity about the unfolding of the light of the day.
As the train snaked along its tracks, the sky began to brighten and slowly reveal the outside surroundings. At first, it looked like someone had been playing with a set of large, grey-colored Legos. A colony of rectangles filled the land, some stretched lengthwise and others rising upward at various heights. These solid masses seemed lifeless – not even a window to reflect the rising light.
But, as the morning light grew, the broader landscape began to sparkle. Just beyond the flat rooflines there was another community. A river undulated across a wide marshland. Flocks of birds rose out of the grasses and reeds into the sky, and the river sparkled as it flowed along toward the eventual openness of the sea.
I felt soothed by the presence of the river. Even though its waters were likely tainted by the industrial world that had sprouted around it, this river still glistened in the morning light. Without asking for anything in return, it has nourished and sustained countless forms of life over an unnamable amount of time. Rather than clinging, it has journeyed onward, reflecting and carrying the light.
This river renewed my awe and appreciation of the endless flow of rivers – not only those of water, but of the night sky (e.g., the Milky Way), of blood within my body, and the sacred river of life. May I travel as humbly and generously as a river.
This practice supports awareness of fluid vitality.
- Standing, pause and notice your energy and how you feel, e.g., calm, agitated, dull.
- Gently shake out through each of your limbs, one at a time. Imagine that you are releasing tension from your muscles.
- Invite your body to spontaneously move. If nothing naturally arises, lightly twist your torso from side to side a few times, move your hips in circles, or dance around.
- If comfortable, give yourself a big hug and invite an inner smile.
- Continue with a more playful form of movement in any or all of the following ways, for about a minute:
- Move as though you are piece of kelp in the ocean, moving with the ebb and flow of the waves. If comfortable, invite arms to slowly swish around as you sway from side to side; or,
- Imagine you are walking downstream through a shallow creek. The bottom is sandy and a little uneven, so you need to use your torso and arms to stay balanced; or,
- Rest on the floor on your back. Imagine you are floating on a quiet and calm pond on a warm summer day.
- While doing any or all of these, notice the sensations and feelings, albeit imagined, of being moved or moving within the water.
- Pause, standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms relaxed at your sides. Take note of any shift in your energy from when you first began. There is no right or wrong, just noticing.
Transition back into your day –
- Come to a seated position. Invite your lower body to be supported by the surface beneath you, and your spine to rise gently upward.
- Lightly close the lids of your eyes, bow your head slightly, and place your hands over your heart center (one hand over the other).
- Invite your awareness to the gentle ebb and flow of your breath – a slight expansion of your torso and belly on an inhalation, and a gentle relaxation on an exhalation. Stay here and breathe for a few breaths.
- Relax your hands in any position that is comfortable, e.g., palms upward on your thighs. Pause and sit quietly.
- When you feel ready, transition back into your day.
This poem is from Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 107, by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt (editors), published by New World Library. Photo by Jaimie Tuchman. HEARTH is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2023.
Join me for my short, 3-week summer class!
With the help of poets from around the world we’ll explore love for the other and beyond. Logistics: Zoom, 3 Thursdays (June 22 and 29, and July 6), 3:10 – 4:30 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time. For more information and to register, please visit the College of Marin website.