Sunday, April 16, 2017

Windows and Walls

In an article in Sufi magazine entitled The Secret Kingdom is Everywhere, Mark Nepo writes, “Each moment that touches us is a window to the vastness of life.”
We’ve all had such moments, times when we’re pulled out of our small concerns to stand in awe before that which is so much greater than ourselves. To live consistently in such moments, though, is not easy. Our minds seem intent on carrying us anywhere but here. This afternoon’s tasks. Yesterday’s argument. Last night’s splendor. Tomorrow’s worries. 

Even with bodies still, our minds are restless, wriggly things. This is why some folks engage in regular meditation practice, time set aside to quiet on the inside. In meditation, we intentionally sit before the window Nepo refers to, the one that opens onto vastness.
Nepo has not, however, exhausted the metaphor. He notes that the spiritual journey is “about the relationship between our walls and our windows.” If windows open us to wonder, walls close us down. While walls come in many forms, each shuts us away from the vivifying essence that permeates the present moment.
So we practice stilling ourselves, employing various techniques to calm our scuttling minds. And we open to what is…to this moment…and this one..and this next one. Until, that is, we’re swept away again by an onrush of thoughts. While beginning meditators are often frustrated by the mind’s dogged busyness, seasoned veterans usually gain at least a grudging acceptance of the process.
“Trying…to keep our moments of love, mystery, and wonder from going back into the unseen depth of life,” writes Nepo, “is like trying to keep a whale from re~entering the sea once it’s breached the surface. Better to have windows that face the sea.”
We can’t compel the sacred. We can’t demand grace. We can’t even force a change in our own attitude. All we can do is turn to face the sea, intending an open window, offering a heart inclined toward receptivity. We can also remind ourselves, with unflagging regularity, that our walls are illusion. Unfathomable vastness is the enduring reality, and it stretches to infinity…and beyond.
As we remember ourselves into this larger view, our orientation spontaneously shifts. We recognize that the secret kingdom Nepo refers to in the title of his article is not so very secret after all. It is simply concealed by our many and varied walls, puny and insignificant things when seen against the backdrop of eternity. 

Remembering this, we become more inclined to let those walls come a tumblin’ down. And, as Nepo writes, “When the walls are down, the opening is everywhere.”
Everywhere. The not~so~secret kingdom is everywhere. May we each open to it, in whatever ways fit our disposition and our lives, now and repeatedly throughout our days.

Leia Marie