Mary Oliver. Devotions.
Early in the morning we crossed the ghat,
Where fires where still smouldering,
And gazed, with our Western minds, into the Ganges.
A woman was standing in the river up to her waist;
She was lifting handfuls of water and spilling it
Over her body, slowly and several times,
As if until there came some moment
Of inner satisfaction between her own life and the riverís.
Then she dipped a vessel she had brought with her
And carried it filled with water back across the ghat,
No doubt to refresh some shrine near where she lives,
For this is the holy city of Shiva, maker
Of the world, and this is his river.
I canít say much more, except that it all happened
In silence and peaceful simplicity, and something that felt
Life the bliss of a certainty and a life lived
In accordance with that certainty.
I must remember this, I thought, as we fly back
Pray God I remember this.
* * *
This morning, I traveled to attend a worship meeting in a nearby town. My friend had pleaded with me over many months to attend and affirming I would enjoy the gathering. I resisted and resisted more and, finally, said "Yes." I parked, got out, walked into a movie theater, down a hall, into a dimly lit Number 5. Music was loud. Worship leader was exuberant, yelling into the microphone, seemed mouth close enough to kiss it, and I found this grating to ears and menacing to brain, as well as blocking a spirit of solace. Most persons stood, obviously thrilled. Almost everyone was moving the body, swaying, especially the arms. Most persons were singing loud. I looked back and saw my friendís husband in the far aisle, arms lifted, hands open, singing, and near him, so my friend. I remained present mindfully, relaxing to see if I might slowly sense that fit in here. Soon, I walked out quietly. I thought, I have got to do this, to affirm, not to anyone, to the truth of the way I have chosen, this is not I, this is not my way of being in this world. And, this day, thankfully, I could walk away grateful for the way being enjoyed in that theater, just not mine. I yearn for the delicate breathings of Silence, the mute intimations of Stillness, yes, peaceful simplicity. I feel little need for excitement, more contented solace, like the deep within the oceanic waters. My prayer is that, rarely a word. My walk to the river on which I live, for calm contemplation as night begins to unfold, is that. And, to me, life is worship, nothing more, nothing less, and I love it most intimately in quietness, which is to say, I feel its subtle movements in and upon me most intimately in quietude. And, yes, I do believe there is a closeness to Life that will never be found within noise, even the most loving or the most holy. Silence is a depth, words cannot touch.
* * *
*Lotus of the Heart is an interspiritual Work of Brian K. Wilcox, MFT, MDiv, PhD, a hospice Chaplain, in North Florida, USA. Brian serves patients at end-of-life and their families and friends, providing a safe, sacred space, utilizing the graces of a spirituality of inclusion and quiet, contemplative devotion.
*Move cursor over photos for photographer and photo name.