Something Rowan Williams said in a video clip* recently made me resolve to get down to planting (my) perennials. [* It is 10 thoroughly worthwhile minutes long.]
. . . I’m set in the midst of gift. There’s always an agency around that is giving. That doesn’t mean, of course, that every moment is wonderful . . . but everything that comes to you has the potential for being a moment of growth.
Then, there was this pearl of Alan Watts’
and I initiated, for myself, a Presence Project.
This has been some time in coming and is, in some ways, a response to having read some of my (handwritten) journals of the past few years. I see that I seem to have begun to describe myself as a human doing rather than a human being and I don’t like it, nor do I believe it to be my primary purpose on the planet (though the Industriousness of post-modern Work-Culture likely disagrees). At least, for now, that approach is not making the sense it (perhaps) once made. I remember why I started that style of recording, though. I would end the day utterly spent and exhausted and not be able to recall at all what had put me in such a condition. So I started to make notes of how my time was spent. Alas, it did not make me feel any freer or in control. I did not, in my opinion, inhabit my moments any better knowing afterward where the time and my energies along with it, had gone.
The perennials I mention are metaphors; necessary resolutions whose roots I dream of reaching the bedrock of truth about what it is that only I can offer the world. What is the invitation that my creation speaks to the world?
I have noticed that sometimes I am present to the Presence; sometimes it simply presents itself to me. “Yoo hoo!” it pipes up from time to time “Over here! Oy!” I know where I am likely to encounter it; I also like to be surprised by it.
On the first day of the practice I was walking alongside a tall wall – on one side of me was a parking lot, on the other a garden: I could feel something following me. A scent had snuck over the wall and was trailing me. So unexpected and such pleasure it brought me! And how much more so when I came upon the plum blossom grove from which it was emitted, all pink and white, a kind of ice-cream parlor pink-and-white themed Milky Way of flowers floating around a field of ancient crooked trunks frozen in a quaint and elegant choreography.
On another day, I’d just come around the bend when the sun crested the hill and lit up one side of a great, big, wild peach blossom shrub. A golden lick of paint left slurp marks on the beautiful, shaggy untended bush. I took a place on a hillside bench not far away, took off my jacket, sat still and soaked up the blue sky under a warm sun. Against a background of chirps and cheeps, I wondered why the season’s songs had not opened fully yet? Only a chorus of short, intricate winter sounds embroidered the quiet. No brave, out-loud, look-at-me, love -me cheer, yet. There were prickly, golden-yellow witchhazels in bloom and voluptuous camellias in various pink and white states of dishabille. Above me, bare branches and twigs sported still tightly knotted sakura buds. There were unseen woodpeckers rattling gently away in nearby cypresses that made me smile.
I want to interrupt those things I do without a sense of Presence and the quickening of spring is surely the right time to be experimenting with where and how to refine and rebalance the scales of being and doing. I can’t help feeling that conversations with nature, while they may not add anything recognisably productive to The World, are important. Here, my at-one-ment with the revelations reliably reminds me of the giftedness I inhabit. Here, the kind of attention I am able to pay in the presence of birds and bats and frogs and bugs and trees and fields and hills and streams expands my capacity for inner quiet and stillness. Being out I am connected with my body and with my being. In this state of mind, doing becomes second nature; being, naturally, is primary.