Today is my birthday! A good day to reflect on what being born might mean.
I'd like to say that I remember that day or rather - that moment ... the warmth and water of the womb, the cries of a mother as she labored hard, the movement, the passage, the pressure, the pain, the loss, the fear, the gasping of breath for the first time, my first cry, the arms that first held my helpless frame, the new air upon my skin, the cotton blanket wrapped around my shivering body, the first kiss of lips placed ever so lovingly upon my forehead , and how I gripped my father's finger with all my strength, the touch, the scent of skin, the sounds of unseen voices deep , rich and glad of my arrival, all of this and more... I'd like to say that I remember.
As I reflect on all this it occurs to me that although my conscious mind may not remember any of this, my body - incredible organism that it is - does. The body does not forget. The body is aware of much more than we can ever know and the body retains and remains a memory of everything. Yes...everything.
Perhaps what this says to me is that to be alive is to be aware. And to be aware is everything. To be born is to enter this world and to become aware. Ever more deeply aware. At this very moment to enter this world means to be aware of the feel of air on my skin, the sound of birds, and wind and voice, all the sights, and sounds, and scents, and sensations that present themselves to me at this very moment. In the stillness I become more and more aware of all this as well as the thoughts and feelings that roam in and through me...all of them. I become aware of my desires and of my deepest desires. Simply, wondrously, gratefully alive and aware. But lest this be of too narrow a focus we hear in the quiet a call to an ever expanding awareness to embrace, to see, to hear in ever widening circles of life.
There is a poet whose words I cherish. Listen to these lyrical lines from someone who entered this world again and again and who was more and more deeply and widely aware of life:
"This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and animals, despise riches, give alms to every one who asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God... go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young...re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body..."
And another... " This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
She may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond."
In Joy and Gratitude for the Gift of Life!