Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why I Want To Live A Life Fractured

I remember taking this picture one day; I was stirred by the way the light pooled in the sink as it basked in the milk jar and danced shadows on a wooden ladle.

There is something serene and lovely about dishes soaking in my farmhouse sink. They huddle and wait patiently for hands to cup and caress them, water flowing warm on their backs and bellies.

I stand at my sink, washing, sudsing, looking out, pulling in, meditating. As the water flows over my hands, I am carried back to my walk yesterday. I felt so alive, invigorated, rejuvenated. My reverie on that walk was pierced by a thought:

 I don't want to go back home and be irritable and annoyed about messes and sloppy words and endless demands. I can stand here on this rooted earth and be alive and noble...flowing- like that water, breathing-like those mountains, heaving-like that cloud-billowed sky swirling above. I feel it all surging ...and for this one moment I cling to life.

But when I depart this hilltop sanctuary , when I am living  in those four walls down in the valley, will it all just vaporize, like a pine cone in the fire? And when the pine cone is consumed by the devouring flames, will nothing be left but a pile of ashes?  Isn't there some way to take the peace, the calm I feel in this place and live it? Make it a part of who I am?

And then, as I breathe deep life, it comes to me:

I can only keep these moments, become one with them if I consecrate each one, each drop of life- set it apart and make it holy. Wholly. We live fully by living minutely.....minute by minute.

Collage created with John Paul's pictures of ice

Like so many drops of water crystallized and formed, I want my days to be fashioned. Frozen moments of nowness and right living, sculpted into a life of awareness and love. And as I stood washing the dishes, crusted in the day's living, I continued to think on those things.

Imagine my surprise and delight today when I happened to open up to a section of a book that I had found pushed under the bed. The book is called,  Peace Is Every Step, by Tchich Nhat Hanh. I randomly opened to the section, "Washing Dishes." Here is an excerpt (emphasis mine):

Each minute, each second of life is a miracle. The dishes themselves and the fact that I am here washing them are miracles.If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have dessert, I will be equally incapable of enjoying my dessert. With the fork in my hand, I will be thinking about what to do next, and the texture and the flavor of the dessert, together with the pleasure of eating it will be lost. I will always be dragged into the future, never able to live in the present moment.

Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness becomes scared. In this light, no boundary exists between the sacred and the profane. I must confess, it takes me a bit longer to do the dishes, but I live fully in every moment, and I am happy. Washing the dishes is at the same time a means and an end- that is, not only do we do the dishes in order to have clean dishes,we also do the dishes just to do the dishes, to live fully in each moment while washing them. (p26-27)

I want to live the fractured life- a life broken into purposeful, intentional moments- where what I am doing is not as important as the heart with which the doing is done.