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.
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
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.