The love of God, unutterable and perfect,Dante
flows into a pure soul the way that light
rushes into a transparent object.
The more love that it finds, the more it gives
itself; so that, as we grow clear and open,
the more complete the joy of heaven is.
And the more souls who resonate together,
and, mirror-like, each soul reflects the other.
The stillness of the night melted into slow, drawn out rumbling. In the haze of my sleepiness, my mind registered it as a sonic boom. When the sound repeated itself a few minutes later, I remembered that it had been months since there had been any late-night planes passing overhead due to the impact of the COVID-19 virus on air travel.
Flashes in the sky drew my attention and offered a partial answer to my confusion. An unusual phenomenon had replaced a previously routine one. Unlike fires and earthquakes, thunder and lightning rarely occur in coastal California. The grumbling sky seemed be like a great being clearing its throat with “ahem.” I felt a familiar alertness ripple through my body, with childhood memories of thunderous skies over the Great Plains that captured everyone’s attention. Even the animals would perk up their ears and listen.
Thunderstorms have a way of widening our perspective. Their grandeur and splendor are both fearsome and dazzlingly enchanting. Within a moment, separateness melts away and there is a roaring reminder of the sky’s all-encompassing embrace of our planet. The entire globe is held by ethereal layers of space, as if to be a constant reminder that we are here to learn to emulate its compassionate and equitable lovingness toward all life.
To further the lesson from the sky, a sweet fragrance wafted through the bedroom window, followed by the gentle thump of rain on the leaves of the trees. A rhythmic harmony began to form as thousands of drops resonated together. Dust washed away, the warm temperature began to drop, and the cycle of rain began anew. The clouds continued to freely release their moisture, offering it back to the earth until the sky began to clear, revealing the sparkle of the stars.
As we undergo our stormy times, nature and poets such as Dante inspire me to listen more closely to the timeless, wise undercurrents woven into our collective earth school. I would like to believe that great “ahem” has gotten humanity’s collective attention, opening us to see that the sky shows us that everything is shared and everyone equally belongs; so, it is up to us to lovingly care for, and resonate, with one another and the rest of earthly species.
This short practice invites awareness of the sky.
- Find a comfortable seated position, ideally outside.
- Reach up and gently squeeze the skin around your eyebrows, starting with the outermost edge of your brow and slowly moving inward toward the bridge of your nose.
- (You will be holding your brows between your thumb and index fingers.)
- Then, repeat from inward to outward. When you reach the outermost tip of your brows, gently massage your temples, your forehead, and then the bridge of your nose with the tips of your fingers.
- If comfortable, close your lids and let your fingertips rest lightly over your closed lids. Soften through your jaw and invite your breath to slowly lengthen. If you wish, replace your exhales with a quiet sigh of “aaaah.”
- (If uncomfortable closing and touching your lids for any reason, feel free to simple sit and breathe.
- Gently open your eyes.
- Allow your gaze to look downward toward your heart center.
- Still with your eyes looking toward your heart with a soft gaze, imagine there is a radiance emanating from your heart center and it is tenderly bathing the entire surface of your eye and your optic nerves with the light of loving awareness.
- Invite your entire eye area to relax with a sense of receptivity to seeing anew.
- Slowly look upward toward the sky. Invite a continued sense of receptivity where you are seeing through your eyes, not “with” them.
- Through your eyes, receive an awareness of the ever-present embrace of the sky of our planet. Invite your view to arise from the depth of your heart.
- Imagine your upper body is encompassed in a radiance infused with compassion, equitable lovingness, kind generosity, and deep joyfulness. Then imagine you are seeing through the lens of this radiance.
- Allow your eyes to come to a neutral view (a middle view between lowering your eyes and looking upward). Either close your eyes or allow them to relax into a soft gaze. Say to yourself, “thank you.” Perhaps invite in an awareness of ways we can move forward toward a just world where everything and everyone belongs and resonates with their own brilliance for the well-being of all.
- Pause and sit quietly for several minutes.
Transition back into your day –
- Stay as long as you are comfortable.
- When you are ready, return to your day.
This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 97, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. Photo by NOAA. H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2020.
Fall virtual class “Support Wisdom in Your Life.” (6 Thursdays, 3:10-4:30 p.m. PT, Aug 27-Oct 1). For more information, please visit the College of Marin Community Education.