Posts Tagged ‘Vipassana’

And the leaves that are green turn to brown,
And they wither with the wind,
And they crumble in your hand.*

As we approach the last hours of late autumn, a few remaining golden and crimson leaves cling to their branches, struggling valiantly against the inevitable return to dust.  The crunch of fallen brothers and sisters, whispering in the wind the promises not kept yet not forgotten.  And a time, too, of spectacular sunsets, filling the autumn sky with hues of blue, pink and gold.

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven…**

For me, autumn has always been a season of reflection, remembrance…and transition.  It was this time of year in 1993 when I realized my first marriage was truly over, and with it the broken promises of a life by which I could not abide.  And as of late, my parents’ situation seems to have stabilized—for the moment.  But now my father is also presenting with Alzheimer’s symptoms, and my mother is firmly entrenched in stage two.  Both my parents have now entered the final chapters of their lives, precariously perched on the threshold between here and … beyond.

A time to be born, a time to die…
A time to laugh, a time to weep…
A time to dance, a time to mourn…**

The ongoing saga of the outdoor ferals is a poignant reflection of this cruel reminder of life’s precariousness.  Of the half dozen cats that were once regular visitors during mealtimes, only Mama Girl, aka Sluggo—the feline mother of four of our indoor kitties—remains.  It’s now been nearly two months since we’ve been graced with the liveliness of Orange Kitty.  I saw him last the evening of Saturday,  October 20.  And Sylvester (Chewie’s baby daddy) has been AWOL since mid summer.  One warm evening he showed up after an absence of many days, seeming sad and alone.  He ate the meal we put out for him, and by next morning he was gone.  Why can’t they just stay and enjoy the largess that is our haven for them?  But no, these outdoor cats are compelled to explore and to roam.  And to meet their fates, no matter how harsh and heartbreaking it may seem to us mere humans.

With the acceptance of the transitions of Orange Kitty and Sylvester, an era is slowly closing.  It’s now just Mama Girl.  She comes around regularly during meal- and snack-times and spends overnight in the heated garage.  And yet in the morning, off she goes to explore the great outdoors, because she must.  And thus a return in the evening is never guaranteed.

Yet our indoor kitties continue to do well, oblivious to the changes to their external world.  As long as we keep them warm and well fed, their lives continue in a comfortable, purring love-fest.

In fact, we have just recently celebrated a significant autumnal moment:  on November 24, we rejoiced in Tigger’s five year anniversary of his adoption (yep, the only furball we actually sought out).

While completing the paperwork at the Denver Dumb Friends League, I remember gazing into the bright yellow eyes of this beautiful, perfect three-month-old kitten.  Tigger returned the gaze, full of expectation, adventure, impishness, love…and trust.  Trust that I would take him home, love and care for him.  Be his forever caretaker in a world that is both beautiful and harsh.

And I also remember thinking that there will be a time—perhaps in 15 or 20 years—that I will have to say goodbye to this wondrous spirit.  And for an instant I became overwhelmed with heartbreak and pain…  Roger then indicated that the paperwork was complete, and I got pulled out of my momentarily morose reverie back to my current, joyful reality.

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven **

Ok, no need to practice heartache, for in a world of opposites—of yin and yang—there will be an abundance of both pain and pleasure.  Many years ago I took a ten-day Vipassana (insight) meditation course.  One of the major key points I gleaned from this experience is that humans create even more suffering by one of two means:  by wishing that the present painful circumstances be different from what they are, or by desiring that the current joyful moments stay with us forevermore.   We humans just can’t seem to accept that our realities are in constant flux.  That there will be seasons of great joy as well as dark sorrow.

Perhaps here is another lesson we can learn from our furry companions:  they are creatures of the moment.  They do not worry about the future nor ruminate about the past.  They experience their moments vividly, viscerally.

Despite our best efforts, we don’t have a patent on certainty.  Just like the feral kitties, we go out every day to explore and to play in this game called life.  Depending on the season, we might feel this game is rigged.  Or we might experience an unexpected win.  No matter.  We fully expect to return home every evening, to the blessing of those we love and cherish in this lifetime.  And for every day except our last—when me make our final return to the home that is the infinite—this expectation holds true.



*  words from Simon and Garfunkel’s, “Leaves That are Green”

** Words are adapted from The Bible, Book of Ecclesiastes; music by Pete Seeger; The Byrds’ single made it famous

Read Full Post »