Spring overall. But inside us
there ’s another unity.
Behind each eye here,
one glowing weather.
Every forest branch moves differently
in the breeze, but as they sway
they connect at the roots.
Translated by Coleman Barks
The front walk is covered with leaves and branches from the surrounding trees. This is a common occurrence in the fall when the ground receives layers of new nutrients from the trees. The earth is cushioned with colorful foliage and padded for the winter chill.
Yet, winter has come and gone. The hills are covered in crisp green tones, frilly cups of daffodils are sprinkled throughout the neighborhood. The soundscape seems suddenly filled with birdsong throughout the day. Deer have reappeared outside our back-window, dining on the new sprouts of ivy.
This year it seems the trees have had a spring-cleaning. Over the past few weeks, gusty winds and stretches of rain have swept through their limbs again and again. With each storm, the skyward broom passes through the branches, finding even more lichen-covered twigs and leaves that have waned in chlorophyll. Seemingly with each stormy sweep, the trees have yielded more and more hidden excesses. And, slowly, the sunlight freely finds its way into the wider open spaces between the canopy.
As I go to sweep and gather up the remains along the walkway, I notice my broom has disappeared. I had forgotten that someone had borrowed it a few days earlier. While I could use a rake or another garden tool to move the leaves to the public composting, I chose to leave them. The broom would reemerge and I could sweep another day.
In the meantime, the trees are reminding me to allow life’s storms – e.g., small and large losses, disappointments, slights or hurts – to interrupt my habitual patterns enough to shake loose the unneeded excesses in the branches of my mind. The wise and lasting words of sages, prophets and saints speak of the poisons of greed and hoarding, whether material or social-psychological. While I find unsettling a disruption in the familiar, I am inspired by how the trees reveal that the season of letting go and shedding is boundless.
I, too, can consistently let go and recalibrate. One of the most recent gifts was an insight. It arose simply out of observing this uncharacteristically weather turbulence. The shift in perspective was subtle, but one that immediately flooded me with appreciation for the most ordinary.
There are actually no words to fully share and specificity the change in inner perspective, but, in short, I truly feel that the richness of the world sparkles within every morsel of life. And, even more intensely within the voices of those other two-legged beings who live around the planet. My gift was being with my siblings and their families this past week where I could truly experience the potent wealth of just being alive. I offer gratitude to the great, unseen broom.
This practice brings awareness of letting go.
- Find a comfortable seated position. If you are seated on a bench or chair, please place the soles of your feet on the floor. However you are seated, please take a moment to acknowledge the enduring support beneath you. The earth is always there supporting all life.
- With your palms upward and fingers relaxed, softly bend your elbows and hold your hands in front of you (mid-chest height). Invite softness in your forearms and forearms. Invite a sense of letting go of your unneeded tensions and excessive attachments. Quietly breathing, stay here for a few moments, softening and releasing.
- Place each palm on the opposite shoulder. Slightly bow your head. If comfortable, softly close your eyes. Imagine everything unneeded or that causes internal or external harm is being received by the earth – your forms of speech, ways of interacting, or thoughts. Pause for a few moments and breathe quietly.
- Open your eyes, if they were closed, and lift your head to level. And, once again, open your palms in front of you. Imagine you are receiving the grace of natural abundance from that which upholds all life. Pause here for a few moments, quietly breathing.
- Return your palms to your shoulders and allow your head to bow. If you have a particular faith or belief, invite their presence. If not, invite awareness of being embraced by boundless, loving support. Breathe here, surrounded, enfolded and nourished by unseen grace.
Transition Back into Your Day—
- After a few moments, bring your head back to center. Allow your palms to rest wherever they are comfortable.
- Sit for as long as you are comfortable, peaceful and refreshed.
- When you are ready, return to your day.
This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 85, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. HEARTH is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2023.