Early morning dark. A faint glow in the eastern sky backlights the steep rising peaks and sloping descents of the hills as if an ancient hand writes the history of the world on the landscape. I read a passage from Rabindranath Tagore by candlelight before meditation. He’s a poet, some call him a saint, who has an exceptional gift of living a fiercely poetical life of longing and wisdom. After reading a chapter of the Gitanjali I find myself locally present, firmly seated, the breath rhythmic; at the same time transported into a universal womb of quiet potency. The guttered candle stub twists into a constantly moving shadow script against the wall. It’s an eloquent message of change written with fire and air. What’s moving the flame? Is it the spinning of the earth at 1,036 mph? There is no draft; perhaps a slight waft from the wind moving through the dark windowpane? Or is it the seraphs that I’ve never seen except for their affect on things: a curtain shifting, a shadow over the rug, light reflected off a mirror into a diamond pin point, a small darkness skirting the wall? I don’t think “supernatural”, but the interconnectedness of things. Something watching me as I sit watching, without judgment, observing the epics the mind conjures and then destroys. Sitting quietly here for the past twenty-eight years has deepened this communion with the Mystery.
It’s one of those fall days that seem warm and cold at the same time. After I sit I walk to the memorial cairn in the orchard for Nick and the other lives lost this year, those close like Don and Peter, and the innumerable lives precious to someone other than me, yet not an other to another. I feel an ache in my chest that I can’t quite name, a gripping in my throat. Grief, certainly, but so much more; the fiery riddle of what each day brings and the choice it asks us to make. And here it suddenly is: a yellow ball with a slight spray of green on its underside. The first lemon on the resurrected lemon tree! It’s a miniature sun rising from the green leaves to capture my eye. Two years ago, moving the cattle down from the upper pasture to the front pasture they stopped to browse the tender lemon saplings into a forlorn bush of loss. Water, compost, friendly hellos, a hog wire enclosure and the chewed stalks recovered to produce this tiny golf sized gift of redemption. I lean down and rest it in my palm and ask with the lightest energetic suggestion if it is ready to come. It yields and falls into the bowl of my cupped hands. How effortlessly it gave itself to me. Loss is now replaced by this tart yellow sphere promising new life. I place the lemon on the cairn; two symbols in the ceremony of making and unmaking, stones and a lemon. A raven caws in the distant pines. A line from Tagore returns to me, invoking the presence of the Friend. “Days come and ages pass and it’s ever he who moves my heart in many a rapture of joy and sorrow”. Something masses at the edge of my skin reaching into the depthless sky, an inexplicable resonance in the relentless loss felt and known deeply, and in the relentless life that surges in widening circles beyond where thought can follow.
I commend these elegant signs that accompany us as we keep pace with the joy and despair that pitches us back and forth in this troubled world; and the courage to surrender to those forces that are so much more than our small hankerings after solace and certainty.
Take It Easy But Take It
1 thought on “Stones and a Lemon”
Beautiful writing Richard.
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.
– Adapted from ancient Gaelic runes
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