From time to time I am reminded that it is okay to relax. I can become very intense about A Course in Miracles, trying to understand it better, trying to write about it with greater clarity and insight. It is good to be passionate and there is nothing inherently wrong with aspiration, but sometimes we have to unclench. We can’t drag Heaven down to us.
Earlier today, while walking, I passed a garter snake. It was resting beneath a pine tree whose limbs I cut earlier this summer. There is some new growth under there and the insect population has increased considerably – crickets and and spiders and so forth. And there are patches of sunlight where before was only a deep unbreakable shade. It is a nice place for a young snake now. Easy to blend in, easy to hunt, easy to warm the blood.
When I was younger, I would have caught that snake. I was good at it – I knew a lot about snakes and I like trapping them and keeping them in a big tank for a few days. Snakes scare people but so long as I know they are there I am okay with them. I jump when they surprise me, but if I see them clearly, it’s not a problem.
To catch a snake, you have to be incredibly patient and gentle. I am not advocating that you catch one – I think it is nicer to just observe them in their habitat. But when I was a kid, I knew that you had to wait for the right moment, be quick in that moment, and to be firm but gentle in your handling.
I thought about that this morning as I watched this little garter snake. It didn’t appreciate my presence, the way I hunkered down to watch it. I called the kids even and we spent a few minutes with it, until it glided away into the taller grass. We liked it.
Awakening is that way: you pay attention. You don’t really have to do anything. It’s there, you notice it, and you appreciate it. The more you can let it be, the more it will bless you. You get a few minutes in the sunlight with your kids and a snake. You forget about becoming more perfect, or writing a great post, or the stresses of teaching in the fall or having no money or whatever. You don’t decide to forget it – it just leaves.
And yes, it comes back. But for a moment I remembered. Relax. Breathe. It’s okay. You’re home.