In an effort to help keep all of us sane–and a roof over my head–I am going to break up longer posts from now on. Unless I don’t.
Our front porch has four hanging baskets on it. Within one of them, amid the geraniums, the dusty miller, and the flowing vine whose name I can’t remember—but which is growing long and green and lovely, despite its anonymity—a little Carolina wren has made her home.
The basket is placed so that it is just inches from the glass of the living room window. I sit in that room every morning, drinking hot, black tea and reading books about awareness. My chair is about ten feet from the window and is aimed directly at it. I really, really want to tell you the story about how I noticed that wren from the first flit of its tail. I want to tell you how I watched that little bird build her nest from the first day to the last.
But I can’t.
Honesty prevails here, which includes owning up to my own inattentiveness to the Life I spend most of my day talking and writing about. I noticed that nest instantly—right after hearing Betsy’s excited announcement of, “Look, Honey! A wren is building a nest on our porch!”
We’re all doing the best we can here. Even me. Betsy doesn’t read books on awareness. She doesn’t need to. As Byron Katie says, “I know you’re either ahead of me, or you’ll catch up!” Betsy and I seem to trade those positions back and forth. Like a pair of mountain climbers, one pulls the other up and then the other does the same, and it looks like we are two harmonious beings moving up and down and sideways, but forever hooked to the same rope. Closer to the truth is that there is just a single one of us, apparently divided into yin and yang, constantly circling each other, trading positions, first this way, then that. Each extreme bears the seed of the other extreme.
Once everyone and everything is seen to be absolutely equal, there is no such thing as “higher ground”. We are not just on a perfectly even playing field; we are, in fact, the very ground of perfectly even playing.
Thankfully, Momma Wren was not quite finished with her carpentry, so I did get to pay attention to what was going on after I’d been told to. Sometimes that’s the best we can muster, is it not? When that’s the case, let’s try to make it our practice to heed skillful advice as early as we can.
So, once I knew she was there, I began to take a serious interest in the wren’s affairs. I did watch her patiently bring sticks and straw and build up from the makeshift structure Betsy originally discovered.
Momma Wren was cheerful and diligent, rain or shine. She consistently put the one thing she values most highly into the making of it: her attention. By the time she was done even I couldn’t have missed the fine result of her industriousness. I water those plants manually with a wand, and I can report a seriously obvious and involved lump right in the middle of the plant group. The lump is full of baby wrens now.
That Carolina wren has been being my teacher. (And because what she has taught me is now part of me, she will always be my teacher, can’t not be my teacher, whether she’s on the porch or it’s ten years from now and she’s passed on and is apparently a “different part” of Nature, a different form in the field of Life.
After all, teaching, like enlightenment, is all about right now.)