c. Susan Sorrell Hill
The Illustration Friday word of the week is caged.
It is the rare morning when the caged monkey in my mind is still. For a transcendant moment, the endless litany of my little woes and worries is nowhere in evidence… and I am free. I hear the birds talking and scratching for their breakfast, notice my body breathing, can remember my dreams… and I am happy to be alive.
Then the door slams shut, mind returns to full activity… and I am on the inside of my mind’s cage, sharing the day with its craziness, seeing life mostly through its eyes.
Days go by. Suddenly, on an ordinary afternoon and for no apparent reason, a space will open once again. The mental litany stills, and I experience a “peace which passeth all understanding.” Nothing in my life has changed, but for a short time, I see it all for the joyful miracle that it truly is…
Sometimes these experiences arrive in the middle of the night… undeniably real, but not explainable. They leave me knowing beyond a doubt that I am not alone, that everything is fine… and that I am loved. Indeed, that we are all loved.
Spiritual teachings say that this state of Being can be learned, called up and lived all of the time. My own experience has been that it comes simply by an unearned grace… like a finicky cat… and that all I can do is cultivate the ground for it to descend into, teaching myself stillness little by little, so that I will not miss the next miraculous-ordinary moment. And yet, even with preparation, I suspect the event happens by grace…
Surely the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, was describing one of these experiences?
My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.
While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.
“Vacillation,” verse IV from The Winding Stair and Other Poems by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
“No Rest” (oil on paper)
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