May 1, 2013

10,002 Ways to Pray “Help.”

Water pours like a foregone conclusion today.

In slow motion, taking down my homemade shrine, I tip seven glasses of water into the sink.

My teacher told me that the pour moment is sacred. It is complete by itself. For some, it is an accumulation of merit. For others, like me, there is no need to have it mean anything. We take the short view. Water is offered, water is poured. The practice gives me something I lack the ability to understand. A moment pregnant with its own virtue, so pregnant, in fact, that it spills virtue out to me, and I need do nothing but manage the water. Some time ago, these glasses stopped being not bowls. I will miss them, but today they are in my hands. It soothes me. I love rituals.

Not all rituals.

Today is packing day. One of the unsexiest aspects of being a gypsy in your late 40s is the frequent ritual of packing your shit. I leave tomorrow, or the next day. I’m not headed far away, but not close either. I thought about Belize, a generous student has offered me a free place to stay there. It doesn’t matter. I’ll go somewhere under the moon.

I know the packing ceremony. When you are doing it right, you are letting go.

Today I’m light on letting go, heavy on clinging. I hold a pen. Add sums, pile accrued merit and subtract obligations. Do I have breathing room? Yes. Enough. I make the space clean for the next person, cleaner than I kept it for me. I feel certain that some contact is missing, all day. Sweeping brings a clean floor without a clean feeling.

Then I see them. I carried these ornaments, maybe to return, maybe to give away. They aren’t mine. And they are valuable. If you value them. Not mine, not for me. They bark for water, orphan street dogs in my upturned palm. I look at them. Karmic objects. I have a part to play in their world, and every act defines us. Faces come to mind, the face of the beloved who abandoned them. Faces of stones in a sculpture I made forever ago. Faces of people who might benefit from receiving them. Faces from the sanctuary, the shrine where they first came to me.

Earlier this week, I told someone no. “No, I am not going to help you. I need to work on this book. I support what you are doing, but I’m not going to do it with you.”

Foreign to me, the option to abdicate. Here’s weird: I needed a friend to help me tell this guy that I wouldn’t help him. I’m trying to stop trying to be liked, because there is an owl in my ear, and it is being difficult.

But it really is okay to abdicate. Is it?

I close my fist around the little ornaments, listening. There are more than 35 more fates to decide for sundry objects today. Why do these weighty little things matter? I hold them as if they might speak to me through my arterial walls, though I’m not fluent in that. They are silent as a feather landing in a hammock.

In class this morning, in child’s pose, I told the yogis, “When you are sad, you can come into this pose, or when you feel alone. It will help you quietly. Later today, there I was, in my room that is not mine, this latest temporary shelter, alone, in child’s, waiting for help. In my tribe, they say that the most sincere form of prayer is one word only: “help.” Though I prefer the heft, the position, of “thank you,” still this holds true for me. “Help,” I said. It helped.

It doesn’t matter what one prays “to.” The praying is the thing. Conversing with life, with our own cell walls. With the moon. Everything we need to know about prayer can be discovered wordless in child’s pose.

They sit in my hand, no warmer for my touch. My touch that I perhaps overvalue. Enter the simple, uncomplicated view. My open window hosts an air shelf that will hold them forever for me. One toss, and they live in the sky. I will not need to look: they could fall up, for all I know. But their value! As what? Placeholders? Offerings, for the gods of Maybe?

One thing I know. Resolution doesn’t always emerge from a sequence of logic, built on a sequence of logic, built on a sequence of logic. Sometimes, resolution emerges from flinging orphaned ornaments with passion, interrupting thought with action, sending sentiments to the sky.

Hand cried out, “be kept in the place not me.” Gesture won over calculation.

There are over 10,000 ways to pray “help.”


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Ed: Brianna Bemel


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