Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Spiritual Warriors & Little Miracles...

The spiritual warrior sits in the middle of the fire...

~ Pema Chodron ~

Tiny Tithonia, Spiritual Warrior....

What a marvelous world it is! Yesterday, when I was walking the dogs I came upon a tiny Tithonia whose seed must have blown from the main garden to this dry barren spot under the large tree just outside my cottage. Nothing, sadly, has ever grown there with my best efforts and as I watched this struggling little green shoot sprout I must admit I was doubtful that it would ever grow up. I kept watering it and sending loving energy and talking to it and when I saw it blooming I nearly cried. And it came just after the most glorious weekend I have had for some time. And it made me realize that all things are possible, if only we believe. This, like The Little Engine That Could, was the flower that would not give up. It's brothers and sisters are towering flowers in the main garden, but this wee little bright orange flower is most precious of all. It, too, is a spiritual warrior, sitting firmly planted in barren ground, and blooming it's little heart out.

People tend to think of warriors as wearing armor and carrying weapons into battle, and certainly those type of warriors do exist. We have dear men and women fighting in a war right now risking life and limb, and I pray for them everyday. But I, too, am a warrior. I am a warrior of a different sort. I am a warrior of the heart, in the great Tibetan Buddhist Master Chogyam Trunpa Rinpoche's definition, a tender warrior...

Tenderness contains an element of sadness ... You feel so full and rich, as if you were about to shed tears. Your eyes are full of tears, and the moment you blink, the tears will spill out of your eyes and roll down your cheeks. In order to be a good warrior, one has to feel this sad and tender heart. If a person does not feel alone and sad, he cannot be a warrior at all...

~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Shambhala ~ The Sacred Path Of The Warrior ~

Both of the words "warrior" and "sadness" have somewhat negative connotations in our society. Warriors are thought to be brutal senseless killers by some while they are men and women of honor serving their countries and their peoples as best they can. They do not make the big decisions, they simply put their lives on the line to carry them out. And we, too, must have the courage of a warrior to face life. We must have the courage and conviction. Nobody ever promised us a rose garden, as the saying goes, and it is the hardest times in our lives when the most growth takes place and the spirit grows stronger, if we allow it. It is a matter of choice. I choose the way of the warrior, the tender warrior, spreading the message of maitri ~ loving-kindness, and compassion, which is an important thing as well, and sometimes brings a soft sadness to our heart but still we prevail. If I can have great compassion for a tiny flower who fought for life and succeeded, I can have compassion for you, I can have compassion for myself, and if we are to survive in this world, I don't believe there is more important work to be done.

And finally in the middle of our life and days we must do our work and the ordinary tasks of life. Sue Bender, in one of my favorite books, Plain and Simple, about the year she went to live with the Amish to learn about simplifying her life, wrote:

"It is the everyday things that give life its stability and its framework."

And so amidst the world swirling around and about me I must steady myself here doing the work of my hands and heart to take care of life in this little cottage. Lately I have been hand-spinning a lot of yarn for freeform pieces that will go up in my fiber shop, Dragonfly Cottage Design Studio. You can see some of my yarns here, still on the spindles. And this, too, is a miracle, as piles of fluffy fiber, sheep's locks and more become yarn in your hands...

A bevy of spindles full of yarns I have been spinning for
freeform projects that will soon be ready. They are lying
on a bed of roving and red-orange Cotswold locks which
I used on the large middle spindle. The colors didn't show
up well no matter how many times I tried to photograph
them so below you can see the center spindle alone...

A blend of rovings in red,
orange, and pink spun
with red-orange dyed
Cotswold locks...

Mircea Eliade notes that the most primitive of all sacred places known in the history of religions is the archetypal, simple landscape of stones, water and trees.

~ Belden C. Lane, Landscapes Of The Sacred ~

I think that there is a deep truth in Eliade's words and the reason that I feel closest to God in Nature or with my animals. To listen to a running brook, to fill one's pockets with pretty stones on a walk and bring them home to lay out as the sacred objects that they are, to stand under a pine tree so tall it almost disappears into the clouds, that, too, is an amazing miracle.

A loblolly pine, which grow in
abundance here in North Carolina
and I so love these trees. The pine
cones are gigantic, and miracles
in and of themselves...

Or to plant a tiny seed in a garden and see it grow into a majestic flower, sometimes several feet tall, or, as I started this piece with, a tiny flower that found it's way on it's own. And all of the animals that I live with are great warrior spirits in their own way, even the gentlest of them. They were taken out of their natural environments to be our "pets." (I dislike that word and never use it. I say my Animal Companions, or, more aptly, my family.)

And then there are the little miracles. Like the tiny flower. Like the everyday tasks of human life. Like the little pugs on my bed last night. I had to laugh. The little fawn male, Sampson, likes to sleep in the crook of my knees or by my feet, but wee little Babs, the tiny elderly lady, twelve and deaf, started out with her little head on the pillow next to mine and through the night somehow gravitated to the arch of my neck or my armpit! Ha! And her silky, warm, firm little body was a fine thing to snuggle with! Moe, my big lab-doby mix had to get up on the bed too the first night to see what all the commotion was. "I mean, really," he said, "the bed is full of pugs. I'm sleeping on my rug next to the bed!" I don't know if it's the doberman in him, but he has always preferred sleeping on the floor with his back to me, right next to the bed, and his nose pointing out the doorway, in guard mode. I sleep peacefully with Moe at my side.

I call Sampson in this picture the Cami-Pug,
as it looks as though he thinks if he sleeps on
this particular pillow, no one can see him...

And so we go about our life and days doing what we can, being Great Warriors witnessing little miracles, and the smaller the miracle the closer to God we come. The Universe as a whole is too much to take in to fully understand. We will never understand the cosmos, the evolution of the planets, the beginning of life. Be it the Big Bang Theory, The Creation Theory of the Bible, or Evolution, the answers perhaps lie somewhere between them all. They are too much for my mind to hold. But this African Grey parrot on my shoulder, the little black pug sleeping at my side, the kitchen tasks I'm about to attend to and the box of new bird feeders that just came that I will fill and hang outside, as the old ones are worn and getting rusty and winter is just ahead, these things I understand and find glory in. There are six feeders on my tiny patio, just outside the four glass doors that open onto it. I live in a peaceable kingdom and I thank God for it every day.

I needn't don any armor, but I am ready to face the day anyway, and face it I will. And there is one difficult task before me today but I shall get it done and be all the better for it, and that, too, is a miracle I am grateful for.

Warm Blessings and Love to One and All,



Noreen said...

Ah, my dear, once again, we are walking in harmonious synchronicity.... I have been thinking about how we create a better world..... and calling upon the Angels of Peace, Compassion and Wisdom. And, like you, tending to the small things of life, breathing in love, breathing out hope and peace....

Maitri Libellule said...

Noreenie Honey,

Thank you so much. It doesn't surprise me one bit as we are so often on the same wavelength and synchronicity abounds! Let us pray that these waves of love and compassion, hope and joy, are contagious and spread around the globe, one person to the next.

Each One, Reach One...

Big hugs to you sweet sissie,


Star Gardener said...

"I needn't don any armor, but I am ready to face the day anyway, and face it I will. And there is one difficult task before me today but I shall get it done and be all the better for it, and that, too, is a miracle I am grateful for." My dearest, Maitri, this quote shall be written in my journal tonight.

As always, your wisdom and honestly and creativity bring comfort and inspiration! Thank you, thank you!

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