No mud, no lotus

Thay’s words came spontaneously to me last evening, as I gently prodded the idea that power comes from choice. The idea didn’t sit well with me; I was very tired from a day working with people who would rather complicate the simplest situation than admire the innate simplicity of it.  Stirring up the mud, clouding the waters. That’s what brought Thay’s words to mind.

When he reminds us that below the still pool, the lotus blossom is anchored in the rich and humble mud, he is telling us that beauty and practicality are one. Dark is the twin of light. All things are one. We are interconnected. It is a beautiful image with very fluid boundaries. We have both good and bad within our nature. We do choose which to nurture, and that shapes the balance of who we are.

In making choices, we don’t cut away the bad, leaving great holes. We nurture the good, and the bad either withers away as the good grows into its space, or it is transformed into good. The mud, after all, contains the nutrients from which the lotus grows stronger.

The question remains. How do I weave a sheath for the tool that symbolizes choice? What is the tool?

*

Thay means teacher in Vietnamese. Students of Thich Nhat Hanh use this title to show our love and respect for him.

Weaving together the disparate threads of a story

This isn’t the story of a young woman who drew her life plan with such confidence, all the lines firmly inked with pen. Or how she found herself in love with a dreamer. Virgo and Aries were not destined for happy ever after. No, we leave that young woman in the past, standing on a mountaintop with a string puddled at her feet. while the balloon sailed freely away.

She took that string home and learned to weave.

She prowled the mountainside in the company of mythical cheetahs, leaping, and dancing, drawing life plans next with charcoal, and eventually with a stick in the sand. Virgo can be the firm bedrock of the mountain, but also the shifting sand, swept freely by wind, water or a carefree hand.

Isn’t weaving one of those things drawn with firmly inked lines, the thread held taut in submission and manipulated by the visions of frustrated mathematicians? Or does it become a dance of fingers across dynamically tensioned threads, a harp upon which to play music from deep within the heart?

This is the story of a dreamer who lets the thoughts of smiling people wash across her, occasionally wincing at a hidden thread of bitterness or sorrow. One who has worn the circlet of the stars with reverential mirth, and one who still feels too young to claim the cloak of the wise crone, though it came along with the teapot and other trappings of the office. She aspires to all this, but her dance card is full and there are countless ideas that deserve an enthusiastic “YES!”

In Grasse, the fields are carpeted with lavender, or at least they were the last time I was there. Things change, but not in the context of this story. The fragrance hovers above the ground, rising and falling with the wind and sun. This is the dynamic tension between dream and reality, balloon and mountain, me and the string. This is how I weave and why I weave.

May I present Aislin to you? She is the wise and calm woman of that chance meeting on a broken-down subway train, the face I see in the still waters that rise in the woodland glade, and when I ask who she is, her answer is always the same.

“I am whoever I am needed to be.”

Aislin

one for sorrow and two for joy

As I start my second journey through Zati: The Art of Weaving a Life, I can’t help but notice how that childhood rhyme, used for counting magpies, ravens or crows, describes the journey. The first time I worked through the small and intensely thoughtful keyforms outlined in the book, I was mourning my mother’s passing. I never quite finished the projects, and am in fact, still weaving the shawl. It’s coming to an end. Finally.

Along the way, I’ve woven the occasional amulet when invoking something new into my life, and have woven the receiving bowl as both a chance to receive life’s blessings and also as an opportunity to share them with someone else.

Now, I am weaving from a place of joy, bouncing through the keyforms, not necessarily in sequence. This is my first chance to enjoy and embrace the spring season at Buttonwood. Last spring, everything was mud outside and unpacked boxes inside. My mother always said that the snow should go off with the wind and sun rather than rain. While the snow is by no means gone, the March wind blows with vigor and enthusiasm.

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Spring in the hilltowns is only a promise in March. I celebrated the equinox in blowing snow. Yet, I know it is spring because the snow melted from the paths and deck railings within a day. I also know that this is spring because of the light. The days are long now. I’m filled with energy, and the house is filled with sunlight and the sounds of chanting. In the garden, under the frozen soil, the spring bulbs must be getting impatient. “When, when?” they ask. “Soon, soon,” I whisper. The magic for awakening the earth must wait a bit. I will not rap on the frozen ground and ask them to awaken in bloom. Not yet.

I did weave that promise into an amulet, along with the intention to question less, and do more (such as going to kirtan last Wednesday on an absolute whim), and to trust my instincts and go where they lead me.

 

holding

There are days where I cannot sit at the loom and throw the shuttle on it’s fixed path. It’s just too linear and predictable for the wilder energy that I am feeling. I have to grab a simple frame loom, some expressive yarn, and experience all the sensations of weaving through my fingertips.

It was snowing gently but persistently when I wove this, but my heart was attuned to the chatter of the finches. Now? Now? They are asking in excited and buzzing tones.

I can weave my nest now because dreams can be nurtured in any season. They hatch when they are ready.

Alas, dear finches, you must wait.