Gathering Light

I woke from a dream this morning in which I had been writing a poem.  The poem somehow folded “humility” and “housework” together into a metaphor for learning to be present to the Present.  

The practice of presence is a constant theme here at the farm.  Monasticism itself is a practice of presence, of course.  Some of us have practiced traditions other than Christianity  (Hinduism and Buddhism) and bring a fresh language to the ancient problem of attending to the Moment.  The ecological work, the “universe story” foundational to the sister’s vision here, also brings us into a vibrant discipline of confronting ourselves in the Eternal Now.  After the daily reading of the Gospel in chapel the most frequent individual reponse to the question of  “how God is calling you today” is … “to try to learn to be in the moment.”

After getting to paper and pencil and writing down the words “housework” and “humility” I found that all the other words and the meter and shape of the poem had gone somewhere else.  But within the empty space of the vanished poem, I found the following memory and new thought.  

saturn2About a year ago a friend showed me Saturn through his telescope.  Breathlessly beautiful, I was especially thrilled because I was looking at the planet and it’s pristine rings in real time, not via photograph.  My friend had to calulate the alignment of the earth’s axis to compennsate for the earth’s rotation. The power and magnification of the instrument enables it to gather the light of Saturn to show us the image.  (The human eye can only gather so much light at one time – it’s why we can’t see Saturn and its beautiful rings with the naked eye, even though the planet is there.)    

I thought this morning about the telescope and staying in one place over time to gather enough light to see what is there.    Being in the moment invites you to give yourself the time to absorb the truth in the moment.

We listen to guests lament about the confusion and noise and fast pace of city living.  Several of us love the city and usually say so but they counter, “but you don’t live there!” and that’s true now, even though two sisters spent a majority of their vocational years in New York.  Our guests say that the pace tears at something inside of them but that it is impossible to detach from the momentum of life in New York. “You can’t just stroll and …. look at things like you do here.  And smell beautiful smells and hear the symphony of birdsong.”

I’m still learning to slow down.  I feel deeply there’s some important but unknown purpose to this, perhaps for the future.  In the meantime, perhaps I’ll think of it this way: I’ve slowed down to absorb what I would not see without being very still,  gazing, and gathering light.

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