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“It’s not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Br. David Steindl Rast

Beautiful Book-Eating Pond

To begin with, a stanza from a Mary Oliver Poem,

The Return:

Rumi the poet was a scholar also,
But Shams, his friend, was an angel.
By which I don’t mean anything patient and sweet,
When I read how he took Rumi’s books and threw them
into the duck pond,
I shouted for joy. Time to live now,
Shams meant.
I see him, turning away
casually toward the road, Rumi following, the books
floating and sinking among the screeching ducks,

oh, beautiful book-eating pond!

“Time to live now, Shams Meant” I love that line. Rumi’s books-so sacred, of so much value, such a part of who he was, so essential to him on his journey- and yet Shams saw it was time to offer the books to the pond. We all have our books, we all need our books when we need our books, and hopefully we come across the dangerous friends like Shams who can help us recognize when something, once necessary, is now keeping us a half step away from our living.

Our “books” could anything- our education, our certificates and licenses, our stories, our mala, our smartphones, our memories of success or failure…any aspect of identification that keeps us slightly distanced from life.

“Time to live now, Shams meant.”

Think about yourself and Shams at the duck pond…what could he toss in the pond, with a mischievous smile, that would completely rattle your sense of who you are? That would leave you tempted to dive in after them, but instead, you turn away with Shams, bewildered, some deep part of you alive with the freedom of a bond released…

I recall a story from Reggie Ray when someone asked his teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, what was the essence of mediation. Everyone thought the response would be something like clarity or compassion, and Trungpa replied,

“Intimacy… meditation is the practice of intimacy.”

I am very much looking forward to Russell Delman’s visit in a couple weeks, and the weekend at Snowbird exploring this topic of intimacy. The three inquires Russell offers in the description of the workshop seem well worthy of exploration:

What does it mean to be intimate with life?

How do we become distant from ourselves and the world?

How can we attend to our living so that we experience the deeply satisfying connectedness of intimacy?

May you be well on this day, and may you experience the joys of the beautiful book eating pond…

-Carl

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