Sunday, April 29, 2012

Watering the seeds: suffering or equanimity?

The magnolia tree does not consider its fallen petals, and the tulip does not anticipate its moment of perfect bloom. We humans seem to live so much in just those moments -- stuck in our sorrows and waiting and reaching for that something that may or may not bring all we want. I saw the litter of magnolia petals carpeting the sidewalk and was struck with their beauty, knowing full well that they were on the road to decomposition and disappearance. It felt similar to the last stages of my mother's life, when she was on hospice and functioning at the most concentrated and essential level of her character. How beautiful she seemed to me, no longer controlling or grasping, no longer measuring or despairing! There was a complete quality in her pleasure in holding a cup of tea, in her sensation of the texture of her own throat with her wandering fingers.

I planted onions a year after her death, scattering the fertilizer four inches below where the roots would grow, as I pushed the tips of the slightly thickened grass-like seedlings just under the surface of the warm earth. A cold wind was blowing, and the sun sparkled literally on the new green in the field grass. In that moment I could be complete, doing this action in this moment, knowing that some of these little onions will thrive and others may not, that there are responsibilities of watering and weeding, harvesting, and curing, eating, and savoring -- yet with no thinking about that. Each of those aspects will follow in their time if I nurture the seed of the moment. In my planting I chose to experience growth and possibility rather than loss and sorrow.

So oddly enough in grieving my mother's death, I found myself watering the seeds of being. This was one of her dearest gifts to me, showing me that the blooms do not grieve their petals as they fall to the earth.