Sunday, March 23, 2014

Knee Deep in the River

-A Desert Canyon Waterfall-

Almost every day I talk about the abundance of riches I experience living out here in this beautiful desert wilderness. It looks so empty, but it is filled with life - brilliant sunshine, majestic mountains, pristine blue skies, hummingbirds in my garden, flowers blooming on cacti, a night so clear that it seems like day, even a waterfall in a high canyon flowing out toward the desert floor.  

In my life in the desert, I try to live every day by cultivating an attitude of mindfulness, paying attention  to the revelations that constantly bubble up out of each moment in this beautiful wilderness. 

In response to my posts, I often get inquiries like the one I received yesterday form a man who said that he could understand how I might find deeper peace and spiritual refreshment living in a place like I do.  But he went on to say that he lives about as afar away from a Desert Retreat House as you can possibly get. He lives back East - in a high-rise apartment in a big city. It has been a long, cold, lonely, icy, snowy, winter, which has left him feeling pretty "dried up." 

So while spiritual refreshment may be possible in this beautiful desert wilderness, he wondered how any of my experiences could possibly apply to him and his life?

What a great question.

I answered that man by telling him that, as far as I was concerned, you didn't have to live in a desert like I do in order to be in a beautiful wilderness. We all live in that wilderness- wherever our feet are planted is a beautiful life-filled wilderness.  

It's more about paying attention to it all - learning to bask in and relish the revelations of the moment wherever we might happen to be.

I've been thinking about my conversation yesterday. My guess that my "dried up" friend  is "legion" -he is the voice of many people living everyday lives in today's world.

I think there are lots of people who feel isolated, alienated and pretty "empty" nowadays-  cooped up in offices, cubicles, or inside houses or cars all day long-  minds cluttered, hearts closed, doing almost everything they possibly can to avoid being mindful in the moment rather than embracing it.  It's a perfect formula for emptiness -  a path that inevitably leads to that dead-end feeling of being "dried up." 

Yesterday I asked my online friend a few questions: Do you ever intentionally spend devoted time to enjoy the presence of other people in your life? How about going to a church, a temple or maybe a daily period of quiet meditation every morning? You don't have to live in a desert for that, the corner of your room would work just fine for that.  

Or how about reading some books by great authors, some poetry, going to an art gallery? And when you go outdoors, do you pay attention to the beauty you can encounter? After all  the sun rises and sets even in big cities, birds sing even in city trees, the stars and moon come out at night;  and now that it is springtime, flowers are blooming up out of the snow even in the coldest and iciest places on earth.

I'm not much of a country music fan, but a few years ago I came across a song that really spoke to me: 

I guess we never learn
We go through life parched and empty
Standing knee deep in a river and dying of thirst.

What a perfect icon for so many people who may get up this morning feeling parched and empty, dried up, suffering from the effects of a long, cold, lonely winter- standing knee deep in a river, and dying of thirst.

Whether living in a desert or near an ocean, in California sunshine or in a high rise apartment in a big Eastern city, each and every one of us lives in the beautiful lush wilderness called  "life." We are all connected to one another, all the many are connected to the One. The Holy Abiding Presence is a river of life flowing in it all and through it all.

We all stand knee deep in the river, but you have to take the time to stop, stoop down, and drink deeply from it if you expect to quench your thirst.

As I sit in my garden this morning, I hear the refreshing gurgling of my fountain, and I watch the birds drinking from it. It reminds me of that river of life flowing in me and connecting me to everything and everyone.  I sit back and drink it all in.

Such an abundance of riches bubbling up into a beautiful wilderness.

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