Washing

“Keep close to Nature’s heart…
and break clear away, once in awhile,
and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.
Wash your spirit clean.”
John Muir

I love being outside, yet sometimes I resist that love and stay inside. After all, I have things to do. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, work related things, doing nothing in particular, letting the cat sleep on me, drawing, reading, tidying up, catching up on TV shows, being at work, writing for this blog. The list is endless and mostly trivial. Yet, some days I still resist going outside.

When I break away and out, and feel the wind on my face, smell the fresh air, feel the heat or cold, get wet from rain, feel hidden in the fog, receive a kiss from the sun, hear a bird sing or watch a chipmunk play, I am transformed. I often feel I am healed. Perspective returns. Priorities become clear.

“Give away the things you don’t need
Let it all go and you’ll soon see
And you’ll wash your spirit clean
Wash your spirit clean
Go and pray upon a mountain
Go and pray beside the ocean
And you’ll wash your spirit clean
Wash Your spirit clean
Be grateful for the struggle
Be thankful for the lessons
And you’ll wash your spirit clean”

Lyrics ‘Wash Your Spirit Clean’, Walela

forest home waterfall

Give away the things you don’t need. That probably includes the computer and TV!! But more subtly and I think, more importantly, it means to give away resentment, fear, desire, want, worry, doubt, anger, regret, some of the stories we tell ourselves over and over.

I “pray”, but I do not pray as in a petition to God. I pray as in sending “energy” into the world. My foundation and inspiration is the Metta Prayer. With many variations it says, ” May all beings be safe. May all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be healthy. May all beings be loved. May all beings be filled with Loving Kindness.” I pray that I may be responsible for acting in ways that will make these things happen. I pray to be aware and mindful. I pray that I will be kind and compassionate. I pray that I will be quiet so I can hear. Still so I can observe. I pray that I may understand that the struggles and the lessons in life are things to be thankful for. They are how I learn, change, grow.

In Nature my spirit is washed clean. I am soaked, scrubbed, restored and hung out to air dry. I can feel the weight of all those stories I make up about myself and others, all the resentments, fears, desires, wants, worries, doubts, anger, regrets… all of them being washed and rinsed out of the fabric of my being. Sometimes I find I was not even aware of how dingy, stained and faded my thoughts, being, spirit had become.

When Nature has cleansed my spirit, my prayer becomes a continuous prayer. It becomes a living prayer.

Nature allows my senses to come alive. I can fall down in the snow and let the cold make me shiver.  I can feel the wind and the rain on my skin . I can hear the waves break along the shore and the birds sing. I can hear the tree branches creaking and leaves crunching under foot. Looking up there is the insane pairing of colors at sunset and the humbling expanse of the Milky Way. I swat at a mosquito and watch a butterfly. The smell of roses and lilacs require me to close my eyes, overcome by sheer pleasure. I allow myself to be immersed in Nature and my spirit is washed clean.

And then, the dirty dishes just are. The laundry just is. The crying child is only that. A long day is over. Being tired is nothing more than that. Good/bad disappear. Dreams of a new sports car, a bigger house, a new pair of shoes don’t seem to matter so much. Grandma never remembering my name, someone saying something mean, a person not living up to my expectations, me not living up to someones else’s expectations don’t really matter any more. Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated at work melts away. Desire to be in control, to be in charge, to be right, to look and act strong and determined don’t seem so important. The stories repeated of how smart, clever, kind, important, creative I am just seem silly. Memories can become that…things in the past that do not have to impact this moment. I can just be in this moment.

When I go out into Nature perspective is restored. My spirit is soaked, washed and rinsed….the weight of worry, disappointment, desire are all swept away as my spirit is washed clean. I am lighter, softer, more flexible….I flow and swirl.

Do I get all this right all the time? Nope. Do I falter and stumble? Yup. Will I stop/give up? No. Do I keep trying? Sure do.

Wash your spirit clean. Over and over again.

After thought: many of you tell me via email, Facebook, in person how much you enjoy reading these posts. Some of you even go as far as to say they help you look at things differently, or think about things differently. I sincerely wish you  would consider sharing your thoughts in the comment section of the blog post itself. I feel so strongly we have to have dialog to help each other maneuver through tough times. I learn a lot from all of you…even, and especially if you have differing thoughts and opinions. There is more to be gained in sharing what we think with one another in a respectful manner than in being silent. Regardless, thank you for your kind words and support.

Gardening

The heart is like a garden:
it can grow compassion or fear,
resentment or love.
What seeds will you plant there?
~Jack Kornfield

flower1a

It’s spring! More days of sun and warmth. Birds returning and filling the air with song. Tiny buds of color peeping through the slowly melting snow. Our hearts soar and we sigh a sigh of welcome and embrace a sense of rebirth after the cold and darkness of the winter months.

Some of us look forward to the piles of seed and nursery catalogs that begin to fill our mail boxes. Like young children in the days of department store catalogs looking longingly at the hundreds of pages of toys Santa might bring, we ponder growing zones, light requirements, water needs and more.

There are times in our lives when we may pause and think about how we are growing. Maybe even what we are growing.

If you were to go through a seed catalog of personal growth or transformation, or even conviction and purpose, what kind of seeds would you choose to plant and nurture? What sort of color and beauty would you bring into your life? Would you choose things that germinate quickly or would you be more patient? Are you looking for things that grow in full sunlight with ample watering, or plants that grow happily in shade and require less water? How much care will you provide?

Perhaps you are looking for seeds to produce food….or maybe just ornamental flowers. Annuals or perennials? Is it important that your plants and garden attract and support wildlife?

What about resistance? Resistance to insects, deer, disease, mildew, drought, heat? Things we might regard as nuisances.

Open your seed catalog and browse. What will you choose to grow?

There is a section for Personal growth:  Pink Patience (slow germination time), Tender Forgiveness, Joyful Laughter (quick sprouter), Purple Peace of Mind.

In the Reaching Out section there are seed packets for Endless Kindness, Hardy Uplifting, Tall Flowering Tolerance, Arching Acceptance, Continual Compassion (needs fertilizer) and Lavender Love (continuous blooming).

Under the category of Resilience we find Fragrant Flexibility, both the climbing and ground cover varieties, and Sunny Confidence in all shades of yellow and orange.

There may be too many choices in the Spirituality section, so go slowly, read the descriptions and plan accordingly. Favorites include: Prayerful Pansy, in all colors,  Divine Daisy, Passion Poppy, Reflective Fern, Believers Berries (good for some wildlife), Mindful Meadow Rue, Bee Balm Wisdom, Pious Iris, Sacred Cosmos, Hopeful Heliotrope (easy wilter, keep watered).

flower2a

There is another section on invasive and tenacious plants. Included are seed packets for Frozen Fear (spreads almost uncontrollably, so be careful where you plant it), in shades of purple.  Resentment Rose has as many colors as thorns. Angry Aubergine, makes a bitter parmesan. Hateful Horseradish is not for the full-hearted. These require certain types of soil and fertilizer to maintain healthy growth. Read labels carefully. Once these get a footing, they may be hard to thin or remove.

Really, the choices are endless. What do you pick? Perennials or annuals? Kindness and Love? Both? Flowers or bushes? Mindfulness or Passion? Flexibility and Acceptance? Drought resistant? Fear and Anger? Sunny or shady? Laughter or Patience?

If a friend or stranger were to come into your heart garden, what would they see? When you pick a bouquet for your home, what will it look like? When you create a nosegay for a friend, what it is the message it sends?

If you are a beginner and get frustrated with the results, no worries. It takes time to get the right mix for your garden. Remember:

“You’re frustrated because you keep waiting
for the blooming of flowers of which
you have yet to sow the seeds.”
~ Steve Maraboli

What seeds will you plant in your heart?

 

**both photographs by me