Sometimes magic moves through words. Sometimes, we see or hear just the right thing at just the right time. And, if the heart is open, and we allow those words to drop in, they mark us. They change us.
This magic touched me recently during what felt like a quite difficult and challenging time in my life.
With all the events of the last few years, many of us are feeling a bit beleaguered. On top of global and national obstacles, we must still navigate personal and family hardships, often with little fuel left in the tank.
I had found myself falling into a bit of a repetitive narrative about how the world works, what to expect from others, and an exaggerated sense of my own responsibility. I began to feel a bit put upon, even a bit targeted by The Fates, and noticed some unhealthy thinking beginning to take hold.
Then, I came across the first book on Buddhism that I ever read back in the late 1980s, given to me what seemed quite randomly by the sister of a friend. She had recently begun studying Buddhism and thought I might find it of interest. I’m not sure what led me to the bookshelf that day, or why I reached out for that particular book, which had remained untouched for years, decades even.
But I did pick it up and, as I flipped through the pages, I noticed highlighted passages and notes I had long ago scribbled in the margin.
There, underlined in the text, was an old teacher, a bit of wisdom, a message left from the past for the me that wouldn’t exist for yet another thirty some years. A message that would arrive just when I needed it most.
“Tend what you have been given.”
Just six short words that helped me to reorient and recontextualize all the recent events that were rapidly folding themselves into a calcified story of “poor me”.
Sometimes what we have been given is joyful and easy to move through. Sometimes it is not. Our duty is to be present and tend to it all. We do not get to choose what phenomena arise, but these phenomena comprise our experience nonetheless, wanted or not. And we have a fidelity to ourselves as awakening beings to stay present and tend to our lives no matter what unfolds before us.
I have since put this phrase as a daily reminder in my to-do list. Each time I see the words, I am reminded that I am the shepherd of my own growth and, that no matter what comes, I will do my best to be present and learn, treating each experience as an opportunity for wisdom.
Just as the flowers in a spring garden must be tended, so must the garden of experiences that ultimately make us into who we are meant to become.
Blessings on your journey,
Louisa has always enjoyed writing and is thrilled that she now has a way to share her musings with a larger community of like-minded seekers. Her writing is often an extension and exploration of the struggles she faces in integrating her own spirituality, scholarly study, life experience, and nuggets of brilliance from her teachers in the hopes that it might alchemically transform itself into something approximating wisdom.