Leaving the Citadel

Compassionate action starts with seeing yourself when you start to make yourself right and when you start to make yourself wrong. At that point you could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where you could live.

PEMA CHÖDRÖN

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

RUMI


A soft rain.

The groves on this side of the lake are still brittle. Once we cross the bridge, the forest is lush and I watch the earth give under Leonard’s paws. It smells alive. It smells of decay.

For these days 36 days I will not try to conjure a sense of gratitude. I will leave conjuring behind entirely.

What quiet comes.

My shoe comes untied. Twice. And twice Leonard’s leash becomes wedged under a tree root. He’s stopped short – but then moves on without registering annoyance. Our time is uneventful. “Nothing to write home about.”

Out on the lake, the ducks are squabbling. And along the path a finch hops from the ground to the lowest tree branch. And then up, and up as we come closer.

I wonder what it would be to hold the finch in my hand. If I were to cup it in my palm, my thumb on its breast, would I feel time passing?

A wind moves through the trees and it sounds like a tide pulling away.

I sit on a rock, in a sheltered curve of the terrain – like earth’s own palm. Here is my heartbeat, here is Leonard’s ragged breathing.

I’m drawing no conclusions: home, to incense and wine. And eavesdropping on the blackbirds calling to one another from outside my library window.

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