Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.” ~Max Ehrmann
Keeping peace with our soul is something we all yearn for. No one wants discord in their lives. But what happens when feelings of anger, isolation and fear are experienced? What do we do? We know feelings of fragmentation and alienation are part of our lives. They come with being human. Keeping peace with our souls is never easy. Easy to write about to quote on to preach to others but…. for the acid test?
For example, I had the most beautiful garden, the boundary being formed of very old and beautiful trees. I loved my secluded garden with a passion. It was my haven. A thing of fine and rare beauty. Then in April, 2011, a local woman bought the land next door. The first thing she did was to hack down most of the old trees, leaving our garden utterly destroyed to one side and we also lost our boundary. She was not suppose to hack them down. They belonged to the community and were planted many years ago as wind breakers. Still, she owned the boundary so went ahead with the mutilation anyway. It was hard to stand by helplessly trying to reason with her, while the buzz-saws crunched their way through tree after tree. I wanted to kill her! I can’t say I was at peace with my soul, that day or any day after. I suffered, I cried, I grieved for those trees. Then about a year ago, I grew tired of being angry and sad. It dawn but slowly how much I’d allowed this woman to have power over me. She was enjoying her garden but I wasn’t mine. I knew the trees could never grow again but I still had the rest of my beautiful garden. I would plant new trees and new plants. And this is what I did. I chose to open up and to heal, to realize that this was one of those lessons in life we learn abruptly, that nothing is forever. Life is impertinent on all levels. A small twist to the story. It took two years to recreate my lovely garden again. I was content again. Then over Christmas during the storms, we lost a huge forty foot conifer, a Liquid Amber tree and a Mock Orange! I guess its time to give up loving trees, at least too much. For loving them too much is to lose them. 😉 At least I was not flooded like the “woman tree mutilator” next door. Should I say she deserved it? -Naaaah, it’s all part of the slap stick comedy we call life..
Our aspirations, our calling, our desire for a genuine life,
is to see the truth of who we really are—
that the nature of our Being is connectedness and love,
not the illusion of a separate self to which our suffering clings.
It is from this awareness that Life can flow through us;
the Unconditioned manifesting freely as our conditioned body.
And what is the path?
To learn to reside in whatever life presents.
To learn to attend to all those things
that block the flow of a more open life;
and to see them as the very path of awakening—
all that which constructs, the identities,
the holding back, the protections,
all of the fears, the self-judgments, the blame—
all that separates us from letting Life be… ~ Ezra Bayda
Ezra Bayda is a Zen teacher affiliated with the Ordinary Mind Zen School, having received formal dharma transmission in 1998 from the school’s founding teacher,