Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunrise Meditation

I rise early, dress quickly. Birdsong greets me before I even open the door, a joyful noise from wee friends compelled, as am I, to greet the morning.

I hurry up the hill, anxious for a view of the eastern sky. It looks clear, but as I make the rise I see a series of clouds extending ladder~like from the horizon, the perfect scaffolding for a spectacular sunrise. As I reach the lake, a first blush of color has just touched the clouds closest to the Earth. I know, though, that this is a mere hint of what is to come.

My pace is brisk, interspersed with the short bursts of speed that are, I read somewhere, particularly good for cardio health. Yet I suspect that this landscape~~sky, mountains, fields, lake~~infuses my heart with a greater vitality. The color soon brightens and deepens both until magenta, hot pink, and peachy light streak the sky. It is breathtaking. 

And then I see him. The great blue heron, that granddaddy of birds, stands on sun~baked soil at the lake’s edge, shoulders hunched in his grey cloak, long spindly old~man legs supporting his weight. The game we play never changes. I hug the far side of the path, trying to pass by without disturbing him, shy granddaddy that he is. After years of effort, I won the game for the first time last week.

He will not give me a second win. He rises now, silently, unhurriedly, huge wings pumping slowly, even serenely, as he crosses to the other side of the lake, where his morning fish~filled meditation will not be disturbed by an earthbound human.

Old Man Heron, however, is an integral part of my own meditation, as are the colors reflected in the lake’s still waters, the surrounding mountains piled with snow, and the swing of my legs as I turn now toward home.

Meditation comes in many forms~~sitting on a cushion or chair, worshiping with others in temple, church or mosque, being swept away in moments of intimacy with a loved one. Of course, all these things can be undertaken without full presence, with no sense of awe or awareness of the precious. What a waste! 

Whether a result of intelligent design, sheer chance within the stunning process of evolution, or~~my personal favorite~~some glorious interplay between the two, it is astonishing that we’re here at all. What an opportunity, to be alive on this small planet twirling its way around its star, in one galaxy among more than a trillion others. That really is worth showing up for, isn’t it?

So we practice attending. We practice awakening. We practice simple presence. In just this way, we hope to most fully experience the time we are given, however long that might be.

And with gratitude overflowing, we lovingly give back what is ours to give.



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