A few weeks ago in a circle I write with, we wrote to the prompt of a poem by Rumi. Here’s a short excerpt of that poem.
“The miracle of Jesus is himself, not what he said or did
about the future. Forget the future.
I’d worship someone who could do that.”
Here’s my response.
I’m surprised to find that I disagree with Rumi this morning. Not overall, but just a few lines. Worshiping one who could forget the future? I’m afraid that didn’t work. Hasn’t our culture been driving us too near that cliff edge? I appreciate what may be Rumi’s invitation to presence – embrace this moment, now – but I can’t get behind those lines. Why? When we care for children, we know that we must always be in the future as well as the now. We must live in layered attention. The kid is going to get hungry, and if you don’t think about that until the kid is grumpy with hunger, you’re blessed by a holy meltdown.
Maybe instead of forgetting the future, we should be praying to the future beings and asking them to guide us now, over this treacherous cultural terrain. Let’s ask them, again and again, What will help your life? Help me to know. Help me to live with great presence and great pleasure, but without shortsighted selfishness. May I feel you, future beings, in the pulse of my heart, begging for wisdom, for one simple decision after another that remembers the value of your life. May we see beyond ourselves, and remember that you, too, will want to have farmland to sustainably feed your people. Of course you’ll want clean air to breathe. I know you will relish vast expanses of wilderness in which to let your soul expand, so your heart-mind can remember itself as timeless and vast as the Grand Canyon, and not only as small and clever and speedy and distractible as these ubiquitous glowing screens. May we hope to do better than previous generations did by us – so that like countless human beings in the past, you might even know the simple pleasure of dipping a cup in a stream and drinking fresh water without fear of chemical contaminants.
Rilke comes to mind. “All this hurrying will soon be over. Only when we tarry do we touch the holy.” I want to remember that this hurrying will soon be over for me. I want to remember that the future includes my absence and someone else’s presence. I want to remember them every single day. I want them to be able to tarry and touch the holy. I want them to have wilderness in which to do it.
Despite being situated right in the midst of this unsustainable culture of capitalism and taking all we can get, I want to remember the sacredness of reciprocity and simplicity, and keep asking myself again and again, What am I offering? How can I help?
“The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come. To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.”
– Terry Tempest Williams
Today, as I close this missive and prepare to call and fax and email government officials about protecting our national monuments rather than shrinking them for short term corporate gain, I’m inspired to share Robin Wall Kimmerer. Her voice is one I wish I could magnify over so many loudspeakers into so many ears and hearts and minds. I wish I could invite us all to s.l.o.w. down, to feel our bodies right here on this sacred ground, and listen to her uncommon common sense. If you’re inspired, you can listen right here.
When despair of the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty in the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
– Wendell Berry
We’re off to celebrate our boy’s 7th birthday this weekend in the beauty of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, lands which are newly under threat. We will relish every moment. We will pray for this land, and so many others, to remain protected for future generations.
May the peace of wild things be yours.
May you rest in the grace of the world and be free.
A few notes:
Carl will be opening registration next week for this summer’s Tai Chi in the Park – a nourishing and unique class not to be missed! Class will meet Monday evenings in beautiful Lindsey Gardens and will begin in late May.
We’re so thrilled to offer a weekend retreat in one of our favorite wilderness areas, in Boulder, Utah, just outside of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (one of the wilderness areas newly under threat.) Save the date for a powerful weekend exploring the Wilderness of The Body with us at Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch, August 11-13th. We’ll have more details and registration open next week. One day in Boulder is worth 3 days in a city – time expands in this spacious place. We hope you’ll consider joining us!
If you’re interested in supporting wilderness and the availability of the peace of wild things for ourselves and future generations, please consider calling, faxing, and writing your representatives, as well as the Department of the Interior, and invite your friends to do the same. More on this issue can be found many places, including here and here. I think it is of vital importance.
We’ll have an update soon with some new class offerings and some community sitting meditation offerings.