This morning was one of the hard ones. I woke up afraid. I woke up wondering what I thought I was doing trying to start a business? What if I got everything up and running and then just crumbled? What if…
Thank God I live in a house with nine animals. You don’t have time to wallow in fear when 3 dogs need to get up and out, get medications and their breakfast, and out again, and five parrots are waiting for their breakfast, fresh water, and good morning kisses. Lying in bed, that ominous feeling coming over me, a little teary and wondering how I would get up at all, first baby Tanner came and pushed his soft black puggy face into mine, huge eyes almost touching mine. You can’t help but smile when your face is nose to nose with a pug. And then my sweet old boy Sampson pushed his way in past the baby, and finally my funny little pug Pugsley was wagging all over the place. I sat up smiling and whispered Thank you God, and started my day. These babies are my guardian angels.
Once everyone was taken care of and I had my breakfast and coffee I sat down here for my quiet prayerful time, time to read spiritual material, something that would soothe me and set me right. The fact is I never really crumble, not completely, but the fear of crumbling is always there. What keeps me together is often an act of sheer will, making myself do the things that I know will pull me out of it. This morning I was lifted up by a beautiful book that I have read so often I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read it. It is Thich Nhat Hanh’s Being Peace. I love the first paragraph dearly, it has set me straight more often than I can tell you…
“Life is filled with suffering, but it is also filled with many wonders, like the blue sky, the sunshine, the eyes of a baby. To suffer is not enough. We must also be in touch with the wonders of life. They are within us and all around us, everywhere, any time.”
Reading these words my heart lifted. We all suffer in our own private way, in different ways and for different reasons. We are all aware that others have suffered more, but our own suffering is our own. The key is to acknowledge it, bow to it, be gentle toward our suffering, but then to turn around and face the sun, to acknowledge that in the fullness of our lives there is far more to be thankful for if we open our eyes, if we are very present, if we treat each moment with care. How could I crumble with a little nose pressed to mine, with other wee ones crowding in, with parrots waiting for me and the wild birds outside?
I walked out with the dogs. The heat and humidity make the air oppressive now in August, and I have never liked the heat, but I looked at my garden shimmering in the early morning sun after a heavy rain yesterday and I whispered Thank you. There was a pair of rosy finches at the feeder nearby, and a pair of cardinals at the one just several feet away. I was dazzled by the brilliance of the huge white Casa Blanca lilies covered with drops of dew. This heat and humidity which I always dread as each summer approaches have made a lush garden filled with insects and I am so grateful, so touched, to see the cottage garden area that I grow just for them, so filled with flowers now I can no longer open the gate and walk in, the zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers, gloriosa daisies, hollyhocks and more are covered with butterflies, dragonflies, oh, the blessed bees, a hummingbird darting in and through the rainbow arc of many colors swaying in the breeze, and how can I be anything but filled with thanksgiving and joy to witness this life all around me?
Inside Miss Scarlet, the grey parrot, is anxious to come out and I uncover her, open the cage, and reach inside. She steps up on my finger and as I raise her up she pushes her beak to my lips for a good morning kiss and we kiss and kiss and kiss and I tell her I love her and she flutters her wings. I sit her on top of her cage and fill her bowls as she starts cooing and talking and singing. What happiness she brings me. And then the four little parrots, Emmy Lou, the tiny green cheek conure, Thomas, a dusky conure, Solomon, a blue crown conure, and Sierra, a Meyer’s parrot. They all give me kisses, I hand-raised every one of these four, and step from foot to foot and hop around excitedly as I get bowls of fresh food and water and we have our special morning time as I turn on all of their lights and radio. They are two rooms away from where I work, looking out the front windows and keeping me abreast of the activity on the street, raising a ruckus if anyone comes near the house, and they listen to public radio all day. I tell them they are the most cultured parrots in the world, listening to classical music and thoughtful commentary, and I love to sit with them in the afternoon and listen to the radio and watch them living their lives, so present in every moment. They are my teachers too.
Back to Thich Nhat Hanh, to a poem that he wrote that is in this first chapter, a poem I long ago memorized and say to myself as often as I can remember. It launches me into meditation times very often…
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know that this is a wonderful moment.
… and so it is.
I am ready, I am thankful, I know that I can do this, this work of mine, I know that I can do whatever I need to do, as long as I remember to dwell in the present moment, and, when the dark clouds are descending, to look through them and up, higher, to the blue sky. It is always there. Yes, I am ready, I will now begin my day.
I send my love and blessings to each of you who read this, and to everyone, everywhere…