Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February 9: Leaves in Buddha's Lap

As I left work tonight, enough of a glow remained in the sky that I didn't need a flashlight to find my car. Yet it was dark enough that I could clearly see the two brightest heavenly bodies in the sky--Mars and Sirius--bracketing Mount Battie. (The waning moon had not yet risen.) They were my celestial escorts as I headed into town on my way to the Y. When I got there, I realized I'd forgotten to bring my running stuff. I took that as a sign that I wasn't meant to run tonight and turned around to head home for an unexpectedly free hour. Back between the Red Planet and the Dog Star I went, my mind still churning on work.

As I walked up the front step of my home, a nearby streetlight illuminated the statue of Buddha in my flower bed. He's been buried under snow most of the winter. While the mid-Atlantic states have been getting dumped on the past week or so, our snow has been disappearing, sublimating into the sublime blue skies of these sunny days. So there was Buddha, half-heaped in snowy dead leaves. I thought about clearing away the detritus but decided to let it be. His mildly amused expression caught by the light, Buddha looked completely at peace sitting there with that lapful of dead leaves and ice.

Leaving Buddha, the war god, and the twinkling dog star behind me, I unlocked my front door and suddenly felt a complete sense of calm. Some things ease our minds by drawing us outside ourselves--calling our attention to the infinite reaches of the night sky, for example. Others help us empty the mind and think less: be here now; shut down busy thoughts by briefly meditating on an object of beauty. And then open the door and cross the threshold into the next moment.

Leaves in Buddha's lap--
dry offerings of winter.
Remember: life's short.

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