These shriveled seeds we plant,
corn kernel, dried bean,
poke into loosened soil,
cover over with measured fingertips

These T-shirts we fold into
perfect white squares

These tortillas we slice and fry to crisp strips
This rich egg scrambled in a gray clay bowl

This bed whose covers I straighten
smoothing edges till blue quilt fits brown blanket
and nothing hangs out

This envelope I address
so the name balances like a cloud
in the center of sky

This page I type and retype
This table I dust till the scarred wood shines
This bundle of clothes I wash and hang and wash again
like flags we share, a country so close
no one needs to name it

The days are nouns: touch them
The hands are churches that worship the world

by Naomi Shihab Nye 

 

One of the nicest definitions of mindfulness I have ever read is by Pema Chödrön, where she says that mindfulness is “loving all the details of our lives”. This poem speaks of that love, or even worship, that is possible in ordinary days doing ordinary things – where the kind of attention we pay makes moving through life into something intimate and precious.

I remember a few lines from a song by Jewel that I was inspired by as a teenager: “My hands are small I know / But they’re not yours, they are my own / I am never broken”. That sense of choice in what I do with my hands, where I place my attention and how I work with my own attitude… it made me feel free and my life full of possibility. Little did I know then, how my own habitual patterns would prove to be so tenacious!

And that’s ok. No need anymore for the perfection I was striving so hard for in those days, no distant ideals of ascension where I’ll end up always living the truth of this poem and touching the world with full awareness. But there are moments of it, and they are precious…

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