A Reflective State

This morning finds me in a reflective state. Rain has glistened the grass and leaves stick to my slippers as I go out to retrieve the newspaper. The paper is not the same any more. It is smaller and less important in our daily lives. Another sign of the times. I bought a new watch yesterday, my first in many years. Watches are not as popular any more, either. But some of us still wear them.

Silence has become more and more my home. It knows where to find me, coming to rest in my heart, reminding me that this earth is not my home. A nostalgia for heaven arises as we grow older. I am listening to Leonard Cohen’s new CD, Popular Problems. He is the guru for those that would gracefully age. Those that would soften into a kindness for people struggling with mortality. Those that would laugh at themselves and their useless plans and calendars.

I used to throw myself into inner work but now it is different. The silence overwhelms the discipline. What is there to do but be? And being is a full-time job. I was thinking about how ridiculous it is to expect anything of people. Our arrival is a free Slip ‘n Slide ride down the birth canal and our death these days turns us into ash. In between, why should we struggle so mightily to keep up appearances?

You know what worries me? The mustache that grows persistently, the odd whisker where I never quite see it? No, none of that. What worries me is that there is nothing to “get.” We have been sold a bill of goods. Most spiritual books on offer promise what is never in stock: Freedom from suffering.

My teacher said some powerful things about that. Like “Suffer consciously.” Christ died conscious. Gurdjieff pointed to this repeatedly. All we have to offer is our suffering. Everything else can be bought and sold and bought again, as Leonard reminds us. And on that level we are never free.

Vicki Woodyard

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