Squirrel Trilogy

Verse One

Feb 4 sorrows

I woke up with the lyrics to an old Peter Paul and Mary song filling my mind and spirit

If somehow you could pack up your sorrows

and give them all to me

you would lose them

I know how to use them

Give them all to me

These lyrics by Mimi and Richard Farina reminded me of the Buddhist breathing practice of tonglen as taught by many Buddhist scholars and philosophers including Pema Chodrïn. The essence of tonglen is:

Breathe in sorrow

Breathe in difficulty

Breathe in trouble

Breathe in pain

Breathe in fear and self-loathing

Breathe in anger and resentment

Like some kind of a Buddhist vacuum cleaner sucking up negativity and transforming it into grace, harmony, peace

let what you breathe touch your heart and mind, body and spirit and fill it with compassion, understanding, acceptance

breathe that compassion into the world, thereby transforming negativity and the world

not to mention transforming yourself in the process

the essence of this practice seems to flip the western concept of breathe in the good air and breathe out the bad.

That paradigm flip makes me smile.

Verse Two

The contents of these Buddhist vacuum cleaners are valuable.

The parent squirrels high up in the cottonwood tree stuff this vacuum duff in-between twigs and branches to make their nest cozy and windproof for each brood of snuggling babies who crouch, scamper, race up, down and around the tree and contemplate the world like so many tiny Buddhist practitioners of tonglen.

What falls to the ground is treasured by birds and mice and even the mycelial network which nourishes all things, including Esperanza, trees, grasses, you and me

Verse Three

Yesterday in the cold predawn twilight of Feb 5th, I had a puzzling vision:

The resident squirrel family jumped over the bright sharp silver tips of a waxing crescent moon

A tiny fingernail cradled by the dark arms and fingers of the cottonwood tree outside my window

This vision was reflected in the bedroom closet mirror which seemed to make east west and west east

Nothing like waking up with a puzzling vision and conundrum to contemplate when my brain is already on shaky ground.

Was this vision accurate, or was it a visual sleight of hand?

Now I realize accuracy doesn’t matter, the vision was stirring and beautiful

Enough to want to write another love poem and for this I am grateful

I looked for the vision the next morning, today Feb 6th, it was not confirmed, I could sense a rising glow west in the mirror but it was fuzzy, air-brushed rather than sculpted to fine points.

The squirrel family floated in a pearl sea tinged with pale pink and peach.

2 comments on “Squirrel Trilogy
  1. kate Booth says:

    tangled is a daily practice. Get out of yourself.

  2. kate Booth says:

    Tonglen is a daily practice. Great practice to relax into this world we live in.

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