One morning this past week, I looked out the window of my study – a small room in the basement of my home – into the garden, still deep green at the end of July in Oakland, and saw the sunflowers my husband had planted for my enjoyment. They were leaning toward the light, the warm light of the summer, morning sun. I stood silently for a moment, noticing their graceful beauty, thinking about their simple stance: leaning toward the light of the sun.
When life seems to be going well, when things are easy and I am not stressed, I forget to lean towards the Light. I expect I’m not as simple as the sunflowers, although their simplicity calls to me. I am filled with matters of importance, I am moving quickly from one task to another, I have another call to make, I have to check something off the list I have formed in my mind. I don’t need the Light, that deeper wisdom, that guidance in my life – at that moment.
When something goes wrong, I change. I can become frantic, preoccupied, anxious about what I am doing – and what I am not doing. I don’t accomplish much, really. My list of important tasks is still there, nagging at my busy mind, but I can’t seem to complete them. Everything begins to go wrong – isn’t it like that? Sometimes, nothing I touch or nothing I plan comes to be as I had hoped or imagined. Then, when I most need to stop, to breathe, to focus, to notice my surroundings, I am stuck in the cycling thoughts, the worries, the preoccupations I carry within me, always ready to come to the surface.
That’s when I need to lean toward the Light, like the flowers, like the grass. I need to take a breath, take a moment, notice my surroundings, stoop down to pet the cat and to enjoy her purr, her response. I need to feel my body, held by the Earth. That’s what I need.
I think it takes practice. When I practice sitting, breathing, and being, I remember that there is another way. That way is to lean towards the Light. Whenever I do, the Light is there. Hope and the way forward are there, also, in the Light.
Photo credit: Mary Elyn Bahlert, “Lean toward the Light,” July, 2021