If I am sensible, I rise from the dream world each morning and go straight from the bed to the meditation cushion. I light the incense, straighten the spine and cross the legs and breathe myself slowly into the awakening day. I ponder, as my Zen teacher advised, how I can “disappear into love,” not asking that question with my capricious small mind, but gathering all the energies of the body into a stillpoint of inquiry. The incense burns down, I ring the bell, take my bows and go out to the deck to greet the morning trees and bluejays. A few stretches, boil water for oatmeal and the long march into the busyness of the day has begun.
But I am not always so sensible. Sometimes I get seduced by the waiting screen, jolt the awakening body with business too early, settle for the notion that I’m worthy of love by counting the number of e-mails. Bad idea! That all has its place, but it’s better later on in the day.
Still other times, I grab a book of poetry from the shelf to accompany me to the cushion. This morning it was Mary Oliver and holding that bound paper and reading the black squiggles of meaningless sound and shapes, I was astonished anew to partake of the meaning she gives it all from her own morning routine of walking in the woods. Without fail (does she ever check e-mail first?), off she goes and sits on a tree stump or a sand dune with her little notebook and a pen trying to catch some of the wonder of a beetle, a rose, a scurrying crab or a tree full of finches. And then go home and wrestle those first words into the harsh demands of poetic structure and do all the other work necessary to get them into my hands.
I’m always inspired by her example, encouraged to walk deeper into the woods of my work and sit firmly on the thrones of my various loves. The zazen pillow, the piano bench, the bicycle seat, the desk chair, the floor on a grey rug with a circle of children. Each day I walk—or dance— from one seat to another, each with its invitation to disappear into love. And then stand up and tell about it.
And so I have.