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Posts Tagged ‘Sacred’

Buddha Shovels Snow

people-shoveling-snow-600x600

It’s been a long time since I posted any poetry from Billy Collins.  He’s an interesting poet – irreverent at times, addressing life even in its difficulty with equal parts depth and humor.   His poetry is accessible to even those who don’t like poetry.
I was having an online conversation with a Northern Michigan friend, speaking in metaphors about how even the most mundane, repetitive work can be honored as sacred.  She began to tell me how much this mirrored her day shoveling snow, and I was immediately reminded of this poem.  So for all my friends out there who weathered the snow and frigid temperatures lately, this is for you:
Shoveling Snow With Buddha

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 a 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 or 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 his generous pocket of 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.

~Billy Collins~

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Outdoor table set for breakfastWhen being a mother is like a prayer…  

That first 1 a.m. morning I awoke to my infant son’s cries, stupid sleepy but grinning from ear to ear.  Yes, this was motherhood.  

Fast forward so many years, now to breakfast this morning.  Cold water washing greens, fingers touch the cool handle of a knife to slice the plumpness of a strawberry in half.   Now whisking the eggs … I am held suspended inside this prayer right now, and my undivided attention to it is what makes this tender space between this and that, so sacred.

There are not enough words to describe the sacredness of breakfast, first nourishment of the day and especially the ones we make for our children.

Eggs spill out into an already warmed pan.  Grasping the handle while I add the spinach and the cheese.  Aroma enters this sacred temple, too.

For another day I have been loaned life and life with my children.  I fully take in the holiness of this moment.

I prepare a place at the table for us.  I want to cradle them with this food, and tell them this love will never end. 

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Image Locale

breath

undulating current

sacred river

and giver of life


carrying me forth

on God’s unseen cord


in this ever constant

holy communion with Spirit


I am warmed

in tender mercies

breath by breath

©heartsdeesire

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