Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lilies & Emptiness

My husband and I have a daily mid-summer ritual of deadheading the lilies, and use that time and intimacy to acknowledge each bloom that will last only one day. Yet at this stage, on the first of July, I am surrounded by budded stalks of lilies from those still hiding in the leaves to those that stand tall as though their presence is the whole point. Slender or thick, singular bud or uncountable multiples, round or spiky, the green buds stand erect and stunningly beautiful in this moment of development. They might seem plain, nothing flashy. The brilliant colors are invisible. Their light fragrances, the graceful forms, all that is out of sight. But to me they are exquisitely and fully present. I know that in some years the deer eat off the bloom ends of this or that one before they open. Each year there are possibilities of those urgent hard summer rains beating down just at the moment when the blossom opens, battering and discoloring its one day expression.

These green stems with bulbous bud forms help me recognize and separate out from expectations and projections, and celebrate the moment. I find the beauty in the elegant grassy leaves and the buds that are luscious in their curves and clusters, embodying possibilities held within. This brings up a feeling of emptiness in me, a sense of fullness so vast there is nothing to it, no boundary and no need. If I should never see the bloom, I would still be filled with this awe and acceptance. If the bloom is a color I have never imagined, I will still be grateful for the drying brown leaves that hold the place for that lily all winter long. All of this is intertwined without a beginning or an end.

It is hard to describe the emptiness that includes everything. Being separate is like how it feels to look into another person's eyes, and realize that one minute I am focusing on one eye, and then the other eye... never seeing both at once. It leaves me bouncing between expectations and judgments, measuring and grasping, reaching for something defined by the mind as "looking into someone's eyes." Emptiness of the sort I'm experiencing is as though the gaze is wider, as though the focus of the eye itself opens to hold a wide swath just as clearly in a focused gaze. This view takes in the whole face, in fact the whole being, of the person in one gaze, not just the eyes as if they were a separate gateway into making connection. Expectations or definitions fall away and there is no need to separate the eyes as an endpoint. It is not an unfocused feeling, but one of clarity without boundaries.

It is wonderful how there is nothing dreamlike about those lily stalks emerging from their leafy clumps, pointing their energy up from the earth towards the sky. They are vividly present like silent guardians, standing ready in firm collaboration with gravity and light, really making themselves happen. Some few are already swelling, showing bits of color, nearly ready to open and offer themselves to bees, birds, rain, the wind, deer and me. Letting go of what they are now, not needing to be lily buds, or flowers, or seeds for that matter, they take their vibrant stance in the sunlight, making magic just by being. They seem to offer me one more possibility of being aware, and being present, of finding that emptiness where dualities drop away.

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