I have been reading Brain Pickings, Maria Popova’s exploration of books, ideas, her own learning, thoughts, and journey to understand. (read her 10 Learnings From 10 Years of Brain Pickings Her exploration and writing is inspiring. It made me think of writing down my own thoughts in pursuit of meaning, and beauty, daring once again to put them out in the vast sea of words that is the blogosphere. I realized that in the age of distraction that exalts Donald Trump’s 140 character emotional spew of non-sense, and un-truth, somehow contributing a pursuit of meaning and beauty seems important.
I began by reflecting on my most recent foray into making my writing public. It was a year ago that I started Justice, Gifts, and Beauty…this blog inspired by reflections on my friend Judith Snow’s life, and her impact on mine. It was to be my endeavor into the discipline of writing. It lasted a month. I stepped away from it. I pretended that it did not even exist, because re-considering it, brought a recurring pattern of thinking that strikes like a hammer…”you failed — again”. But today I waded through and dared myself to re-kindle documenting my exploration of Justice, Gifts, and Beauty.
I sat at my keyboard. I breathed in to calm myself, and I found myself faced with another familiar pattern of thinking…there was nothing there. It is was as though my intention to pay attention scared away all content. I was empty, sitting in a void. It was unnerving, and I prepared to end my start before I began. But I stopped. I waited, hoping that something was there, that I was not really the empty shell I experienced. Waiting was an act of blind faith.
A recollection of a reflection/prayer written by Thich Nhat Hahn's entered the void:
"This food is the gift of the whole universe: the earth, the sky and much hard work.
I paused for a moment, only to find a universe swirling around these words. I could see my self in the swirl. Once again I was struck by the hammer like pattern of self-judging thought that came swinging through, ringing a gong that reminds me of my failure to remain present and aware for even the shortest of moments. After all it was only a year ago that I undertook the pursuit of a path of conscious eating, only now to find myself once again mindlessly, and with a degree of sloth, making eating an act of consumption.
But somewhere past the last experience of the gong’s ring in my head, there was a silence, a moment just before another distracting thought and sound could enter. It was there that I would meet Thich Nhat Hahn's meaning. The everydayness of food, and eating, is so much more than eating. It is about earth, and sky, and air, and water. It is about climate. It is about hard work. It is about sacrifice. It is about a land at risk. It is about the migrants toiling in harvest. It is about truckers on the long haul. It is about the earth and sea's rising temperatures. It is about drought, and fire, and scorched earth. It is about tribal people standing ground to protect land that is sacred in the face of armed troops. It is about relationships. It is about action. It is about healing. It is about understanding. It is about awareness that everything is connected...and everything is so much more than our first glance and initial thought would lead us to believe.
It was a beautiful, and at times, painful experience of consciousness. It was so much more than thought. It came in a moment, and though brief in duration, it seemed that all of time was enveloped in it.
“We need beauty, because it makes us ache to be worthy of it.”
In that moment I realized that when I stop, and wade past the ritual self judgement, and the unnerving void, to be in the midst of nothing, I can see even the most ordinary experiences as beautiful, and awe inspiring. And in those moments I hear the call to attention, to align myself, to be worthy to receive what has been given. Even for an instant, I can call upon the dignified part of myself to show up for the moment at hand…all the while knowing that my attention span is so short, and I have so much practice falling off the wagon of commitment and discipline.
As Mary Oliver says I "need beauty, because it makes us (me) ache to be worthy of it".
Beauty is always present. It calls out gratitude as my “worthy” response. And gratitude changes everything. It changes how I stand, how I put one foot in front of the other, ultimately, it changes the course of this meandering journey called life, my experience of it, and its experience of me.
An exploration of writing as a means of paying attention to themes that have captured my interest. --justice as "right" relations; gifts as what we have to offer; and beauty --within us, around us; and in all our relations.
Copyright ©2016 David Hasbury. All Rights Reserved.,