Five Pieces of Writing That Inspired Me: #6 Beginning

Sleep is the best meditation.” – Buddha

I set out to find my top five pieces of writing that inspired me and in doing so, found so many more. I thought this one didn’t make the list but then I had a restless night last night and I thought so much about the renewal that comes each night for me when my load feels especially heavy. So, I’m calling this the 6th selection in my top five. <wink>

The Truth about Morning

There is a vastness that quiets the soul. But sometimes we are so squarely in the midst of life’s foreces that we can’t see what we’re a part of. – Mark Nepo

The truth about morning is that it is the small light of the beginning breaking through, again and again. It is a wisdom so large and clear, one which carries us through our lives so quietly and completely that we seldom see it.

Day after day, we are covered with the dust and grit of what we go through. It tends to weigh us down, and then we think and scheme and problem solve. Then we worry if it will all really work, and if it is the right thing to do. It all makes us so dark and cluttered.

But despite our stubbornness of concern, we tire and must turn what has happened over to the hammock of night. This is a good thing. For no matter how unfinished we seem, the letting go into sleep is nothing short of a quiet miracle.

This letting go into sleep is an innate, reflexive form of meditation, no different than a fly rubbing its face or a doe licking its fawn. Sooner or later, without discipline or devotion, despite our resolutions and mistakes, we each much sleep. We must surrender to the quieting of all intent and regret, so that the small light of the beginning can rise in us, again and again.

There is no escaping this profound simplicity: what happens covers us like dirt. It covers our hearts and minds, till, at the shore we call exhaustion, we slip into the waters of sleep in a daily sort of baptism, so we can begin again.

So whenever you feel urgent or overwhelmed, whenever you feel pressed to figure things out or to rethink the unthinkable…rest…so that the endless beginning – which some call the voice of God – might break through what has happened. And you will wake feeling like dawn.

The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

Bottomless Questions

“Keep your feet on the ground and your thoughts at lofty heights.” – Peace Pilgrim

When I awaken every morning, I tiptoe past both the kids closed bedroom doors and walk downstairs with the cat winding her way around my ankles. After I feed her and do a little stretching or yoga, I meditate. I have three or four books that I keep next to my meditation cushion and I read these short meditations as I sip my tea. The thing I like best about this practice is that when I flip to the page for April 20th in the Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo for instance, what is written there is usually something different that whatever is on the top of my mind for the day. It takes me out of my life for a moment to ponder a bigger or deeper theme instead of the logistics of my day.

So today when I opened another of my books, A Year of Daily Joy by Jennifer Louden, I loved that what she proposed, “Try asking bottomless questions – the kind that tantalize and stretch you.” Her examples were “How can I love more?” and “What do I want to create today?”

I sat with this idea for a while, watching the sun start to play on the house across from me, the birds flitting in and out of my plum tree, the feeling of observation starting to warm up my engagement with life and came up with this question “How can I bring curiosity into what I see and do today?”

The feeling of that question matches with my mood when I awaken. Light and open — and curious. My morning routine helps me set the tone for the day so that even long after what I read gets forgotten in the bustle of the day, I am still sustained by the broader horizon that came with my morning moments. I love the idea of posing that bottomless question to intentionally lengthen that note throughout the busy-ness of the day.