The reeds give
way to the
wind and give
the wind away.


A. R. Ammons

As I walked along the water in a nearby meadow, I heard a faint rustle.  I paused, expecting to see a small rodent scurry into the grasses.  Instead, a bed of reeds waved at me.  

Their gentle swaying and rustling evoked a fond childhood memory of peering out the passenger side of my father’s pick-up truck as he drove along the ripening fields of wheat.   The truck seemed like a boat in the middle of a rippling green sea.   I trusted my dad to navigate us across the undulating vastness until we returned home.     

There was near silence inside of the truck.  The truck would rattle as it pitched over the ruts and bumps in the ground.  If the wind were strong, the cab would become its own musical instrument as the wind passed through its crevices.   Otherwise, as with most of my farm relatives, my dad was adept at observing and listening to messages of the wind.  

In most ancient cultures and religions, the wind represents God as well as the divine soul of life.  Like God and Spirit, it is formless and invisible to the human eye. Yet, we know that it is there through its visible, felt, and audible effects on the objects, shapes and forms in the world.  For example, the reeds and the green stalks of the wheat are pliable and easily express the presence of the wind.  Even something firm such as the oak tree in an Aesop’s tale can be toppled by a gale.

Wind forever remains untouched.  It carries the clouds, pollen, and fragrances without clinging or holding onto them.  It announces shifts in temperatures, rain, and stormy weather.  In the form of our breath and speech, it reveals our state of well-being by being shallow, raspy, labored, calm, smooth, or easeful.  In its transformative nature, it removes impurities and blows away odors, but it also fans fires and imbalances in the atmosphere. 

Reeds are particularly capable of giving voice and shape to the wind.  Like other plants, reeds are sacred sanctuaries offering both wisdom and respite from the noise and harshness of the world.   Yet, they are unique in that their flexible and open core allows them to fluently give voice to the wind.  When cut, separated from their bed, and made into a reed flute, their sound can become a pure and unbroken expression of the breath of God animating all life.   Until then, its sound causes us to pause and attune our awareness of divine reality tucked within the wind and world around us.  Please join me in listening to the rustle of the reeds.

Practice

This practice supports awareness of your breath

Prepare – 

  • Sit outside or somewhere away from the pings and beeps of machines and any other potential distraction.
    • If seated on a chair, place the soles of both feet on the floor.
    • Gently close your eyes.  Or, if it is more comfortable for you, keep them open in a soft, focused gaze. 
    • Allow your shoulders to soften away from your ears.
  • Rest the backs of your hands on your thighs and imagine as though you are holding a fragile flower in the palm of each hand.

Practice – 

  • Invite your attention to the movement in your torso associated with breathing: a gentle expansion of your belly with each inhalation and a release and softening on the exhalation.  
    • Slowly, allow the rhythm of the movement to be smooth, relaxed and gentle.  
    • Continue with this awareness for another six breaths.
  • For the next six to eight breaths, allow the breath to come in through your nose on the inhalation.  Instead of an exhalation, quietly sing the sound “Aaah.”   
    • As you sing, imagine the sound 
      • begins from the base of your spine,
      • rises upward along your spinal column through your cervical spine in your neck to the back of your throat, across your palate and out through your mouth.  
  • Return you awareness to the movements in your torso:  expanding in all directions and releasing inward.

Transition back into your day – 

  • Sit quietly for a few moments.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.

This poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 115, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.   HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2019.

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