It was as if a window suddenly blew open
and the sky outside the mind came flooding in.
My childhood shriveled to a close,
thread of smoke that rose
and touched a cloud — or the cloud’s
replica adrift on the slow river of thinking —
and disappeared inside it. In that dark water,
a new lily was opening, sky-white out of the muck.
It was only a glimpse, quick,
like a bird ruffling,
but I saw the flower’s
beautiful stark shape, an artichoke
brightened from within by the moon.
A path lay shadowy at my feet,
and I followed it.
by Chase Twichell
A moment of opening can have a deep impact and a new way forward may reveal itself, as the poet and teacher Chase Twichell names in her poem above. Listening to her speaking about talent and writing poetry, I am touched by her dedication and commitment to it, and how highly she values it also rang through the last lines of another poem by her hand: Poetry’s not window-cleaning. / It breaks the glass.
In the compassion training, we pause with the image of the lily or lotus flower, which rises so brightly out of the mud it has its roots in. The reminder that the mucky hard stuff is actually the ground from which compassion blooms never gets old to me, as my dislike for the struggle is such a strong habit. And the harder the going, the more resistance I feel – and hopefully, the more fruitful what blossoms out of it. Which can seem like a pale promise when in the midst of that dark time where the path ahead is unclear… Good to remember that things are never as fixed as they can sometimes feel, and that in a moment, ‘the sky outside the mind’ can come flooding in to give a glimpse of what was previously hidden.
May we all find our way forward, in kindness to ourselves and others…
PS It is definitely my experience that orienting my mind toward the practice of mindfulness and kindness helps facilitate those glimpse-like moments. If you’d like to try out practicing with us, why not join one of the free daily sits online…
Photo by Åsmund Arup Seip on Unsplash