Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Light52: Week 9



I'm reading a favorite of mine, Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller, with three friends. Almost all of us have read it before, so we're taking our time and sharing our bit of understanding, like blind men touching an elephant, with each other once a month.

Last time we met, I opened to the chapter on sleep and found these words:

Within light there is darkness, but do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light, but do not look for that light.
Light and darkness are a pair like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
-Sekito Kisen, "The Identify of Relative and Absolute"

Now I truly feel like a blind man, because I have been using my "one little word" to develop the habit of looking for the light in any situation. When I was a young girl, my favorite hymn at church was "Like a Sunflower" (which will have to be week 10's post) and I loved the image of how a sunflower subtly moves, following the light.

That last line, "the foot before and the foot behind," provides me some understanding, because I know when I start thinking about form while running, suddenly what was so natural a second before becomes awkward. Looking at my feet, thinking about pronation or whether to land on the ball or heel of my foot, can render my feet complete strangers.

For some reason though, a result of genetics or experience, my optimism is hard won. My natural inclination is to see the darkness, to suspect the worst, and I lean toward misanthropy. My favorite old Jesuit at Loyola was Fr. Talkin, who talked about seeing the world not through rose-colored glasses but through Jesus-glasses: seeing the vulnerability in people, their need to be seen/acknowledged/heard/loved, and their desire to do good. [Side memory: one of many ways Brian made me swoon when we were dating was his borrowing of this phrase---he too had taken a scripture class with Talkin, and in a letter he described seeing the world through Deirdre-glasses. What I don't think he realized then was my positive outlook was the result of thick, corrective lenses.]

I imagine Miller's response to this line of thinking. It's the old habit of "trying so hard", and even in my aside above, imagining that my strengths come from without rather than within. Maybe my suspicion wasn't a natural inclination but an overworked muscle. And a story I tell about myself.

Once upon a time this blog was mostly stories about my kids. Light52 is dominating this year. Soon I'll be transitioning to blogging about my photography work. These posts may go private, or perhaps I'll share them since they'll be buried in the archives. Maybe at some point they'll provide some light for another soul.


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