If God
invited you to a party and said,
“Everyone in the ballroom tonight will be my special
guest,”

how would your treat them when you arrived? Indeed, indeed!
And Hafiz knows that there is no one in this world who is not standing upon
God’s jeweled dance floor.

Hafiz

“Stay!”  Though an open window, I heard my neighbor Ruby’s voice.  This has been a near daily, early evening occurrence for several years.  It is one of those ordinary, everyday things that I take for granted and rarely even notice.  My normal response is to think “Oh dear, Matri has run into the street again.”  Matri is Ruby’s dog, who is consistently friendly, curious and ready to greet the world. 

After two weeks of sharing with millions of others the experience of staying at home, I am ever more attentive to routine moments.  My senses have more acuity and awareness of nuances.  For example, Ruby’s call to Matri conveyed her love for her dog.  In the sternness, there was an expression of sincere concern for Matri’s well-being. 

Maybe for the first time in our lifetimes we have become attuned to the word “stay.”  If we really peel back the layers of emotions that we are going through, we might discover that there actually is an inbuilt desire to stay.  Most of us want to stay, be alive, and continue to be connected to all that we love.  We wish the same for those dear to us, knowing we will grieve if we can no longer laugh or walk with them, or if we did not take advantage of the chances we had to do so. 

Most humans, particularly those of us with comfortable lives, are unaware of our primal impulse to stay.  We tend to be equally forgetful that while we are alive, we share a common home – the earth.  In fact, we are in a kind of communal “homestay” where we are guests living with other species and elements, which are the source of our air, heat, water, food, and even space to move about and commune.  While sages, poets like Hafiz, ecologists, and public health experts have long told us about the nature of our interconnected home, it has taken a tiny virus for us to hear the multilayered wisdom within the word “stay.” 

I thank those of you who have my book “Our Inherited Wisdom: 54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry” and read this H E A R T H blog.  My consistent call is for us to stay with each precious moment, and recognize we live in the midst of wisdom.  This little experience with Ruby and Matri is one of many that I have had in the quietude of slowing down, and staying. I hear the bees humming loudly, smell the fragrance of the air even at midday, and see sparkle on the leaves and grasses.  The sky is clearer.  And, on a human scale, there is amplified awareness that not all have homes, or are safe at home.  As easy as it would be to feel imposed upon and view the directive to “stay” as a lockdown, I choose to let the experience further erode those layers of unawareness.  After all, as Hafiz says, we are guests on God’s “jeweled dance floor.”   

Practice
This short practice invites grounded-ness.

Prepare – 

  • Find a comfortable seated position on the floor or in a chair.
    • If agreeable, remove your shoes.
    • If you are on a chair, please place your feet on the floor.
    • Note:  If you have chronic neck issues, please skip the following neck movements and simply sit and invite relaxation into your facial muscles.
  • Allow your right ear to drop toward your right shoulder.  
    • Pause. Breathe a few breaths as you invite a stretch in the opposite of your neck.  
    • Shrug your right shoulder upward to the ear, bring your head back to center, and relax that shoulder.
  • Repeat on the left side.  

Practice – 

  • Stay seated.  
    • If comfortable, close your eyes; otherwise, leave them open in a soft gaze.  
    • Bring your awareness to the surface beneath you.  Notice where your body is touching that surface.  
      • Allow yourself to accept that support, whether it is the earth, floor, cushion, chair, or bench.
    • Open your eyes if you had them closed.
  • Still seated, place your palms on your thighs.
    • Gently press your palms downward.   
    • Feel that the skin on your thighs is embracing the touch of your palms.  
    • Remember that support beneath you.
  • Stand.
    • Notice the surface beneath the soles of your feet.  Notice where your feet meet that surface.  
      • Allow yourself to accept that support, whether it is the earth or floor.
    • Walk carefully around the space where you are and feel the embrace between your feet and the surface beneath you.  

Transition back into your day – 

  • Come to a seated position.  
    • If comfortable, close your eyes.  Otherwise, invite a soft focus to your gaze.
  • Sit quietly for a few moments.  
  • When you are ready, return to your day.


This poem is translated by Daniel Ladinsky and appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 91, 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.  The photo is courtesy of the New York Public Library. KateVogt©2020. 

NOW AVAILABLE!!   My book “Our Inherited Wisdom”  54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry  (click for online purchase).  This is a perfect companion for your homestay.  It is a handbook designed to support your personal reflections and practice.  There are even blank pages for you to write or draw your responses to the poems and reflections.  There are also mini practices to help ground, calm, and uplift you.  The index functions like a browser where you can search on different themes, such as inner qualities for well-being.  Enjoy!    

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