Finding the Center of My Life

white_lotus

Each day has its own fragrance.  Pay close attention and you can notice it easily.  In this technological age, we need not lose our elemental appreciation of the natural world in which we live.  For example, on my BING google bar it displays the weather for today and the next few ones to follow.  I can see what the weather is going to be on Cape Cod or anywhere else I request.  I don’t have to load up a page with a plethora of advertisements.  It just sits innocuously on my Internet task bar.

The weather gives me a hint of the fragrance of the day.  “Cool with rain:”  I shall bring my umbrella.  Its September and the nights in the Berkshires have been cool, “35 degrees:”  we shall have to close the windows tonight.  “Cloudy, thunderstorms, 75 degrees:” wait a minute – that temperature hints the Indian Summer is here!  By some stroke of luck, on this particular day I don’t have to go into work.   Where are the clouds?  No hint of thunderstorms.  All the windows are open.

There is a tender breeze on the back porch.   It is a STOLEN day!   Get in the car and drive up to the lake in the forest, quick before the thunderheads roll in.   It is September but I drive up the mountain with the car’s skylight open.  The air blows my hair around as I head up to the mountain lake.

There is no one here but me, it seems.  Well, there is one canoe on the lake – a fisherman casting his line.  Otherwise no one else.  I hike around the loop and come to a secluded spot with a rock outcropping.  The rocky ledge projects itself out into the lake like a promontory of hardened land that dreams of being fluid.  The water of the lake is dotted with small villages of lily pads, green outgrowths floating on the surface.  Not a water lily in sight, perhaps too late in the season.

I can see down to the rocks below the water’s surface and at the same time I can see the reflection of the sky above in the mirrored surface of the lake.  Two perspectives.  I lay back on the rock and stare at the clouds that float by.  I did this often as a child.  Who bothers a kid laying in the grass just watching the sky?

The gentle breeze flows across my body with the scent of  decaying leaves, a sweet earthy smell.  The trees surrounding the lake are turning.  There is one on fire with red-orange leaves on the other side of the lake.  In a few weeks, the edges of the lake will be an inferno of bright colors. I feel the warmth of the rock beneath my body as I gaze at the flowing clouds in the sky. 

I am laying on land that is tucked away in the soft curves of the mountains surrounding the lake, a depression of land filled with the tears of the gods.  This is a pure land, perhaps the Pure Lands of the Buddhas themselves.  It is said that ordinary people can walk through such places and never realize the sacred ground on which they casually toss candy wrappers.

I say aloud for the Buddhas to hear:  “I love this being alive, you know.  I love breathing in this beauty and being here on Earth.”  It’s a challenge statement because life is quite difficult right now for most people I know.  I just don’t want the gods to think its not appreciated because the going is tough.  I make a vow to return often to this serene secluded lake in the sky.  I shall bring offerings of flowers and pebbles and perhaps even a small Buddha statue.  Toss them all into the lake so it remains guarded, appreciated and steadfast during times of struggle.

Peace is here at the edge of the lake, the peace of feeling perfectly at ease just for this moment.  The peace of knowing this place is me – we are one thing – this lake, this sky, these mountains and clouds.  Even the rock beneath me that secretly wishes it was the waters of the lake.

Time to go, to return to other tasks. Time to bring the peace within me to other endeavors.  As I stand up to leave the outcropping, I notice that a beautiful white water lily has suddenly bloomed in the midst of the lily pad island in the water.  I can’t believe it.  There was no flower there when I first laid down- I would have noticed. 

There it is, white and pristine, fresh and solitary.  A lotus from the Buddhas of the Lake.   A gift that in this moment I think is just for me. 

there is no end to beauty……if I breathe gently will I smell its fragrance?

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