Monday, March 3, 2014

A Winter Metanoia

Does it seem like some days you are in a never ending dream trekking through some dark gray Paul Simon-like winter’s day -  over and over and over? Books and poetry begin to lose their comfort. Desolate Chicago blues tunes are the common acceptable choice to play on your winter weary home stereo. The dog,who normally delights in brisk walks, hesitates as his senses warn him of the frigid consequence of stepping through the door.

Television broadcasts of golf tournaments in summer-like climates are no longer watchable as viewers sink into deeper doldrums. Local liquor entrepreneurs promote and delight in the increasing of bourbon and wine sales. A news story of how a husband and wife who took turns at using their 12 gauge shotgun on their state of the art flat screen when a 24 hour ice skating marathon was broadcast are seen as local heroes. Meteorologists hide as they are officially persona non grata everywhere. Congress, in its half-hearted attempt at across the aisle collaboration is said to consider legislation to either shoot the messengers of bad weather or to ban winter forever. Baseball spring training games are considered as a cruel tease. Children urge escapes to the home of Mickey Mouse while their parents secretly plan for a midnight getaway to Hemingway’s retreat at Key West . A nasty rumor leaks out that the Pope is preparing an encyclical that God has stopped listening to many in certain sections of the world and that “arctic vortexes” will become the new norm. There is no new Noah to facilitate escape. Hope wanes.

They say the next snowstorm will not be as bad as the last one. They say that it is better to fill the tubs with water just in case the power lines come down due to the weighted ice. They say the children no longer delight in the “snow days off” as they will need to make up the time instead of a spring break. They say the retailers have raised the prices of coats, hats, scarves and gloves. They say the municipalities have used up their budgets for snow plowing, sanding and salting. They say get your provisions before the roads freeze. They say, “you are on your own!”

Without warning something happens as pieces mystically fall into place.  A not–a care-in-the-world giggling gaggle of cherubs pulling sleds and ice skates saunter off to the hills and pond past your window.  The white blanket suddenly seems to purify the once dark dismal landscape. A starling’s soft soothing song sweetens the chilled air. The chimes respond gently to the frosty divine sourced breeze. The late owl’s call continues to query you and you no longer hesitate to answer.  A last minute almost impromptu family reunion fills your home with unconditional joy and love. All this is then capped off at your birthday dinner with your family as you celebrate the now with one breath and in gratitude realize that warmth and spring is ever present … within. The heart’s voice whispers “Wishes do come true and everything is good."

The Winter of Listening

Inside everyone
is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born.

Even with the summer
so far off
I feel it grown in me
now and ready
to arrive in the world.

All those years
listening to those
who had
nothing to say.

All those years
how everything
has its own voice
to make
itself heard.

All those years
how easily
you can belong
to everything
simply by listening.

And the slow
of remembering
how everything
is born from
an opposite
and miraculous
Silence and winter
has led me to that

So let this winter
of listening
be enough
for the new life
I must call my own.

~ David Whyte ~

Shoveling Snow with Buddha
by Billy Collins

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over the mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.

Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm and slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside the generous pocket of his silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck,
and our boots stand dripping by the door.

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.

Below is link to audio Version of the above poem

and some apropos favorites from a favorite...a common birthday mate of sorts...George Harrison
If you don't see the video on your smart phone try the link or your PC

                                         The next two are from the Concert for George



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