Sunday, 22 December 2013

Go as a river

Sometimes I find poems get written that are most surprising. An idea begins to formulate from a moment of insight but what emerges can be a real surprise to me, and this one is exactly that. It came about during a walking meditation (the slow, indoor kind where the Sangha moves together in a circle) on a retreat this weekend. I was aware that not everyone takes smooth, even steps, we stumble and lose balance and move unevenly. This made me re-evaluate my perception of Thich Nhat Hanh's teaching that as a Sangha we should 'go as a river' rather than an individual droplet of water. I realised I held a perception of this being a jolly, smooth moving together where everyone holds hands and rolls along in perfect harmony, but of course this is not true. Although individuals make great attempts to be in harmony with the Sangha inevitably issues arise that cause us to bump up against one another and clash. This also made me consider the nature of a river, which is not a glassy smooth body of water that moves forward effortlessly, but an energetic and playful force that gets caught up against rocks and stones in its path, and doesn't always flow forwards. This is a more accurate description.

Go as a river,
not a smooth, serene, uneventful river,
go as a teeming force
smashing against rocks,
swirling helplessly into eddies and
crashing wave against wave,
stirring up mud at the confluence
with another bumbling, blundering river.
Go as a river
that rocks its banks,
forces pebbles shiny-smooth
from its own bed and
carries debris that wreaks havoc.
Go as a force of nature
creating its own new path
through fields and
wearing away even the hardest of
stone and rock.
Go as a vast, powerful waterfall
creating noise that cannot
be shouted over and
a deep plunge pool that goes on endlessly.
Go as a river that knows its own force
that arrives at the ocean not overwhelmed by huge majesty and size
but plunges joyfully to
meet and merge with itself.
Go as a river that rejoices
in becoming a sea,
rolling and unrolling,
playing and being played,
happy to merge with itself.

© 21 Dec 2013

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