gives me a day
I had thought
to stay indoors
washing my dishes
I am happy
to be inside
This, I think,
Just this choosing
a beautiful day
by Alice Walker
I forgot about this sweet poem by Alice Walker – wonderful writer, poet and social activist – and was delighted to come across it again. It richly illustrates to me the potential treasures that can be found through beginner’s mind, paying attention to what’s actually here and being awake to the goodness that’s present. And it’s not that she’s talking about extraordinary things: washing dishes and throwing out old veg – and then that evocative phrase ‘straightening my shelves’… and yet it leads to a recognising of grace and wealth.
I remember how I used to look down on contentment as something bland and almost pitiable compared to the bliss, excitement and meaningful drama I was looking for in my life (and as I’m writing this down I can almost hear my grandmother lamenting the ‘arrogance of youth’, making me chuckle). And yet it’s precisely this kind of appreciation or gratitude for what’s already here that Joanna Macy calls ‘subversive’ to our industrial growth society with its consumerist focus: it reveals the unnecessariness of much of what’s advertised to us as something essential to our life, whether it’s a new handbag or a holiday abroad “because you deserve it” or the latest smartphone which can do even more than the last. What decisions do I make from that place of deep contentment? How might I meet myself and others, and what now is important?
It’s easy for me to connect with this after an exciting and uplifting meeting-gathering with colleagues across different training organisations in the UK, staying with dearest friends on my way home and getting the sweetest kisses from their toddler. But how to remember it when my focus contracts in the busyness of my day-to-day life… that’s the practice. The freedom to choose, and the ever present possibility to stop and take in the good. True wealth, indeed!
Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash
Yes! What a lovely poem, and yes, I hear my mom lament too 🙂
Are these Easter courses available for people in other countries? I would like to gift one or more to someone living alone and lonely in South Africa. What do I need to do if this is possible? Thank you.
Hi Sue. These retreat days are available via the video conferencing system Zoom – which will be accessible by anyone with a Wifi connection. This should work just fine in any country. By purchasing one of the retreat days a link will be sent out which enables participants to join in the online session. Many thanks for your enquiry. Jacky