|March clouds above our neighborhood.|
Some time ago I read about the practice of looking up into the sky. My mind slips me as to where I read it or who even wrote it, but the concept has never left me. The writer was speaking to our ability to let go, live in the present moment and unattach from the things of this world. Looking up into the depth of the blue sky helps me to experience the infiniteness of our being – of all things. And in that infiniteness, the “nothingness” of all that is. In this experience there is no differentiation between me and this sky. We are one in the same.
And then there are the clouds. These clouds take many forms. They can gently move through, so slowly and peacefully that we don’t even know they are there except for the occasional shadow cast. Or, they can spread out across the sky in waves of energy and motion that take our breath away. I see the clouds as the good and bad that pass through our lives. For these formations come and go, reminding us of the impermanence and unpredictability of all things – of thoughts, of experiences, of the lives of those we love.
Yesterday, I found myself following an ambulance that was carrying my mother to a hospital that was more equipped for patients critically ill with cardiac conditions. If you look back at my facebook status from that morning, I had posted a prayer from the American Indian Chief Yellow Lark. The first stanza said this,
“Oh, Great Spirit,
whose voice I hear in the winds
and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me.
I am small and weak.
I need your strength and wisdom.”
The morning had been difficult. Experiencing the onset of a painful flare, I had decided that the day would be dedicated to stillness – honoring the needs of my body. Little did I know that my mother would be fighting for her life or that my father, in the enormity of the stress and worry, would end up himself in the emergency room with a heart condition.
So there I was, behind a speeding ambulance, being blown about by the wind. I looked up into the sky – clouds rolling about from the storm that had kept my kids home from school that same morning – and it was as if those very clouds, that very wind, blew through the center of my being. It was the warmest, gentlest of winds – almost as if they were the winds of spring. It filled my lungs, and at that exact moment I was comforted by my own breath. Breathing in, breathing out. Breathing in, breathing out. Like the presence of a dear friend, my very own breath holding me, comforting me – reminding me that in all the storms of life, it does not leave me.
My hands relaxed as I let the ambulance drive out of sight. I was no longer speeding. I was no longer listening to the stories of my mind…I was still. I was honoring the needs of my body. It did not matter if I was lying on my couch in the comfort of my living room – unknowing of the events of the day, or if I was following an ambulance that was carrying my mother in the hopes of saving her life. I had found the space of the present moment; a sky blue and infinite. A peace beyond understanding.
The day was long and difficult. We cannot control the clouds. They will pass through all of our lives, without warning or care. Some days they will be full of beauty and some days they bring about the greatest of storms. We can frantically try to out run them or hopelessly grasp at them trying to capture the pictures we see in their billowing forms. Both endeavors leaving us exhausted in our suffering. Or….we can let the winds pass through us. Letting go, experiencing what is, and finding peace. The choice is ours.
Yesterday, for whatever reason – I was blessed with letting go. Comforted by my breath, comforted by the friends and family that surrounded me – I found peace. As the clouds blow in and out of your life may you look beyond the formations to the infinite sky above and find the space of the present moment. It is always there waiting for you.