Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nasturtiums and Crabgrass

           A cool breeze blows across the Temple grounds.  This morning quiet will soon be filled with voices and bodies as we’re having a work-day to prepare for our upcoming sesshin.   Earlier, the neighbors walked by as I was weeding one of the front gardens.  We greet each other warmly and talk about the weather.  They are wonderfully nice people, but we’ve only talked to them four or five times in the two years we’ve been here.  The Temple is like that – somehow private even in the midst of the city.
            But it’s the crabgrass I’m thinking about this morning.  Over the past week I’ve pulled out grand patches of it from the mulched areas around the rhododendrons in the front and still it keeps coming back.  I admire its easy tenacity and appreciate how it has filled in the bare patches in our nearby lawn.  Each tuft I pull this morning from among the brightly colored nasturtiums comes up with white threaded roots clinging gently to bits of mulch.  A shake or two and most is given back and I throw the slender green shoots into my weed bucket.
            I feel quite productive when I’m weeding.  Aside from the fact that it’s an unending task, I find a gentle satisfaction in clearing the space.  I still don’t know how things grow – these trailing nasturtiums were round pea-like seeds and now manifest as crimson, orange, and golden flowers lurking amongst the pleasingly shaped round leaves.  They seem to wander randomly from the root stem, as if they were out to escape the inertial pull of their beginnings.  But I do sometimes know how to clear space – how to make room for what is yet to come.
            I suppose this is what our meditation is about – clearing some space in the busyness of our lives to allow the aliveness of the moment to reveal itself.  We can’t command it, but we can create conditions that seem to allow it to be known.  Sitting still and following the breath, sometimes the clutter of the mind fades away and some enormously shy presence allows itself to be seen.
            But too much talk of these grand concepts is like trying to tell the nasturtiums how to grow those delicate and tasty flowers.  They already know.  So I remind myself to appreciate the necessary little bit I am given to do and I go back to pulling the crab grass.

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