My life is simple: tend the garden, prepare meals, exercise body and mind, dance, talk with friends.
My life is complex.
When tending the garden, I investigate each plant. What do the cells of this plant need so that the entire system of plant thrives? More water? More nutrients?
While harvesting, I become aware of the weight of matter, the solid mass of fruit, leaf, or root that I hold in my hand. I contemplate the miracle that a tiny seed sprouted to create this carrot which I and my friends will eat, transforming the cells of carrot into the cells of ourselves. What is the divine pattern which stitches broadcloth from a tiny seed?
While preparing a meal, my hand feels the weight of the knife, the smoothness of the knife’s handle in my palm. My fingers feel the round curves of onion and carrot. I hear the click of knife on cutting board. My attention directs each action in this act of transformation as onion, carrot, and garlic become the stew which will nourish us.
When I exercise my body, I aim at maximizing the development of muscle and aerobic capacity. I rotate weights, swimming, jogging, and boxing to be sure of a well-rounded fitness routine. Rather than letting my mind drift or reading or watching tv while I work out, I use the time to develop my in-the-moment awareness.
And while I exercise my mind, I practice attention, also, engaging in analysis and strategy.
A dance is an opportunity for awareness, too, with music, emotion, and my own energy guiding and directing the movement as it arises through me and expresses itself outwards. When we dance together, my friends and I combine our movements, letting the wave of expression flow through us.
A conversation with friends is more than an exchange of words. I read them, feeling their moods, sensing their needs, their concerns. I take the temperature of the group. The goal, always, is harmony, balance, wholeness. Yet this does not preclude discord. You’ve heard Beethoven. Or even Haydn. One needs the occasional half-step, seventh, or ninth to accentuate the sweetness of resolution.
Spirit infuses everything.
There is not one act in my life that is solely spiritual, and other acts that are merely mundane, for the division between spirit and matter is a trick of the mind. Every act is spiritual and mundane. Spirit infuses. A teapot is never empty, even when it is not full of tea.
Simon Ortiz writes of this in “Serenity of Stones.“
I turn the stone, and there is more sky.
This is the serenity possible in stones,
the place of a feeling to which one belongs.
“The place of a feeling.” This is Motherlode–the place of a feeling. Yet it is not only Motherlode. The place to which one belongs is the place where one is–even if one is there temporarily. Even if one feels one doesn’t belong. You belong where you are.
“I am going where I belong. I don’t belong here.” Yes. But the feeling of “not belonging” is the prompt that moves the person on the journey–so one belonged there in order to have that feeling of not belonging. One belongs on the journey when one is traveling. One belongs at the destination when one arrives. One belongs at the stepping-off place when one is ready to depart.
Spirit infuses and does not discriminate.
Yet we discern. “I like it here. I don’t like it there. This is alive. This is not alive. This is spiritual. This is worldly.”
That is fine for the mind–that is a fine conversation to have with friends, when one wants idle chatter and the comfort of noise.
And when the mind quiets, we are left with a smile, or with the light in each other’s eyes.
Where the sky and earth touch is where my feet rest.