Stones And Trees And Skittish Deer

Perhaps hardest of all spiritual lessons is the one that involves forgiveness. How deeply invested I am in this self, this sequence of memories, and this particular narrative! Yesterday, listening to some family go on and on about the past – and cheerfully and casually tossing in my own threads as well – I was aware of some detachment, a lack of affect. I wondered later if that is what forgiveness is. We need stories after all. Who cares if it’s this one or that one?

Well, I care. I do, that’s all. Spring springs and I go stumbling through the evidence, slogging along through mud and old soft snow. The dogs and I come back caked with dirt, breathing hard from the effort of negotiating trails that are apt to collapse underfoot. The brooks rush by in brown torrents and here and there you can see the first flowers struggling through dissipating frost. I can’t peel my eyes off the world, can’t stop falling in love over and again with it. I don’t want to leave. I don’t care if it’s a dream.

I do consider the lilies – and the birds, too – and stones and trees and skittish deer – and still end up bent over a keyboard or notebook, muttering in the direction of right words, trying to understand what motor drives their existence since it’s not the motor of commerce. I write to clarify, to memorialize, to celebrate and to . . . what else?

Well, in part to hold fast to what I might ought to let go. Chanting the other night it occurred to me how unwilling I am to be One with any human being, though I am perfectly charitable with dogs and birds and mushrooms and trees. To forgive is to relinquish all grievances, to let go of what the ego wants to clutch in order to continue its campaign of death and delusion. But if I hold on, I am lost. I am dead. And if I merely overlook the grievance, define it as a justified indignation I will rise above, then I am still holding on to it! The grievance is still there, still the center of my thinking.

What has to happen is a recognition that there is no wrong – never was, never will be. My brothers and sisters are all innocent and it is only by seeing this, by refusing to be blind in way to it, that I discover my own innocence. The mind with which I consider God is the mind with which God considers me. Terrifying thought. And yet sometimes I see in my deep love for the chickadee’s two note Spring song a deeper longing for ancient wholeness, for a joy that doesn’t stay in the forest waiting for this body to stumble back to it, but rather follows me home, loyal and loving as any dog, as ready as they are to bless continually with neither restraint nor judgment . . .

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