The Space Between

What if there were big spaces inside me?  What if the muscles, organs and bones chose to separate to make way for the heart?

 

What if the threads of my shirt opened themselves to let the breezes of the universe flow through?

 

What if the letters sought their own space so that the words disappeared?

Divine

 

                                                                      n

 

                                                                                                      i

                                                                                                                                                      e

        D

 

                                                                                                                                         i                                                                  

 

                                                         v         

 

What if the painting sitting before me opened to show the spaces between brush strokes, with the golf course disappearing in favour of white flecks between green and blue and brown?

 

What if the tree showed spots of blue amidst its leaves and hidden birds?

 

***

And what if the space between you and me was alive with love?

Day Fifteen: The Space Around

There is you over there and me in here … or is that so? Perhaps your skin isn’t the end of you. We might be far broader than that, stretching and stretching till we touch the stars.

Maybe there’s a huge space around everything – a sense of outflow, of joining me to whatever’s beside. And time expands too … into a softness, a lingering. It could be that even the difficult moments blend into the air and extend themselves back into the past and forward into the future. Maybe there’s nothing distinct and limited at all, no edges marking “this” from “not this”.

There is space around the beings and moments of the world – softening them and enriching them. I just need the eyes to see.

Just now, it was easy. Ali, Nima and I sat together. I showed them a video on my phone, of Aretha Franklin singing You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman to an audience that included Barack Obama and Carole King, the co-writer of the song. The three of us cuddled and the singer touched not only a Canadian heart, but also Senegalese ones too, despite the language difference. I feel in my being that this is true.

I could feel us extending together … being with Carole, Aretha, Michelle and Barack in that faraway where of Washington, D.C. and that faraway when of 2015. It wasn’t my brain that knew we were all together, but it was nonetheless so. People of the ages 4, 11, 70, 77, 55, 58 and “dead” were united across such permeable boundaries. The space around us kept reaching outward, animating whatever it touched.

Last night, not so easy. Wrestling is one of the big sports in Senegal and there’s a competition in a nearby village happening now. The singing and drumming starts each night around 9:00 pm and lasts till 1:00 am. This will be going on for the rest of 2019.

The voice easily crosses the few kilometres between Soucouta and Toubacouta. I couldn’t sleep. I felt into the space around but there were jangles in the way. The staccato sound, the fatigue, the unfamiliarity of it all. In my better moments, I sank into the sweetness of the tones, feeling the rhythm of the song. And then the walls closed in. Contract … expand … contract … expand …

Still I knew … all moved outwards, dissipating as the night said hello. I was home, within all that the word can mean.

Space

I’ve long been a fan of Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut.  He took his guitar onto the space station and favoured the world with a soulful rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
For here am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do

I was just listening to a program on CBC Radio.  Nicole Stott, a retired astronaut, was talking about space.  She thinks that most of her fellow space travellers have a spiritual life.  Something about seeing our little blue marble from the window of a spaceship.  One astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, had a spiritual epiphany while flying back to Earth.  As Nicole says, perhaps we should invite our political leaders to a space station vacation and see if a change in perspective rears its lovely head.

A few days ago, a Grade 6 girl, knowing of my reverence for Mr. Hadfield, lent me a book of his space photos.  Such lovely images and such a lovely thing to do.

Something spacious is calling me and Chris seems to be an instrument of my freedom.  There’s a loosening inside me, some epiphany of my own on the way.  I’ll look out into the vastness and may be very surprised by what I see.

A walk beyond my personal ship beckons.

Blinds Down

Here I am in the St. Thomas Public Library, plunked down in my favourite chair.  Across from me are five windows fifteen feet high.  I love looking out at downtown.  Except I can’t right now … five translucent blinds are pulled all the way down.  I see the vague basics of the heritage building across the street but the brick is a mystery to me.  Two men are in chairs in front of those windows and I’m choosing not to intrude, not to raise the blinds.

There’s a flatness inside of me.  I like long views.  I like expansiveness rather than feeling I’m inside of a cardboard box.  The world outside is tantalizingly close but its rich details are lost.  Now I’m looking inside some more.  I’m sad.  I want the light to shine in, to touch me.  I’m sitting quietly as I type, feeling the contraction.  On one level it’s all okay.  It’s just the phenomena of life saying hi.  But it’s not the phenomenon I want.

I love window tables.  I love sidewalk cafés.  I love the sun on my face … and on my food.

During my long meditation retreat in Massachusetts last fall, we had a late afternoon sitting in the hall as the sun was falling to the horizon.  More tall windows.  One day, I was thrilled to feel the sun as I sat with my eyes closed.  It slowly moved across my body, increasing in intensity, plateauing and then declining.  And then it was gone.  Ahh … like the journey of life.

A few days later, I had just sat down, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the sun.  Another yogi walked over and closed the blind.  I was devastated.  However, my Buddhist training had taught me to let people be, unless what they were doing was hurting others.  I couldn’t say that the closing of the blind was damaging me.  But I was sad.  Most days thereafter, one yogi or another would close that blind.  Only occasionally would the light and heat touch my eyelids.  (Sigh)

Little darling
I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling
It seems like years since it’s been clear

Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun
 And I say, it’s all right