In a corner of my office at the University beside the computer monitor is a print of a painting, a beautiful black (African) Madonna. It was a touchstone image for me growing up: it comforts me still. Beneath the small poster sized print which is stuck to a cork board is a miniature Zen sand garden complete with small wooden rake and decorated over the years with a dried sprig of cedar, pebbles, shells and tiny pine cones. A couple of sand dollar gifts lie in the foreground beneath the garden.
In the last exhausting two weeks of the semester, entering the room every day, I’d see that the heat had melted the adhesive and the poster sagged over the garden. Each day, I’d pick up the corners and return the faces to the world. Each day, doing this, made it feel like I, too, was being gently picked up, seen, remembered. Despite this daily encouragement, however, I see now that I’ve become (momentarily, I trust) separated from some reliable sources of psychic nourishment. I have not, for example, had a good read in ages, browsing instead on fragments online and coming away feeling tired and, rather than relieved of pressure, mostly only further stimulated in ways that did not foster either recovery or flourishing. I have not written from the Centre; I have not made time to listen to my daily prayers. Aside from keeping up my evening swims, I confess I am presently feeling rather adrift. It will take me a few days to unwind and find a rhythm of breathing and living that enables me to enter into deep and soul-satisfying rest.
As challenging as internet technology can be to human being, it is not without significant and life-affirming treasures. Below is a perfect example. I clipped this wise letter to Vasco Pyjama by Australian national treasure Michael Leunig, I mean, Mr Curly, to give to myself this day, the first day of my summer vacation. [Found here, with thanks!]
Michael Leunig, The Curly Pyjama Letters, Ringwood: Viking (Penguin), 2001.