We moved into our new house twelve days ago. For the past week we have had heating engineers pulling down the pastel-brick fire surround and the old gas fire and installing our beautiful new wood burner. Those particular moments of chaos have passed. Since they left yesterday afternoon I have been watching the edges of the damp plaster drying out. Its colour changing from a deep burnt umber to a pale baby pink.
I am enjoying this pause between moments of chaos. The silhouettes of leaves cast onto other leaves as the desk lamp shines though the plant next to me. The dark cat purring at my feet. Even the warmth of the light on the textured wallpaper we inherited from the last inhabitants.
This is all the stuff of life. I was going to write something about my hectic work schedule. How I had to take on an extra shift at my part time job and how little time I had to write to you all, what with seeing clients and running Buddhist services and unpacking boxes... It all seems less important in this mid-day pause.
Both are true, of course. The tightness in my shoulders as I think about the emails I've not replied to, and the beauty of this strange tree-like plant that I don't know the name of, with its kitten-chewed leaf.
Dogen wrote about the genjo-koan. The universal truth that is to be found in this very moment right now. Whatever your life is, that is your practice. Learning how to live this life in the best possible way. Appreciating that it is reality itself. What our heart is searching for is right here.
A train rushes past at the end of our garden and the noise reminds me of the fireworks that kept me awake last night (even though they sound nothing at all alike). This is life - learning how to be with sleepless nights, and too-full schedules.
A few days ago I heard our friend Esther Morgan reading from her collection Grace at the Ledbury poetry festival. One of the themes of that collection is 'whilst life is happening elsewhere' - that sense that we are waiting for our lives to start. Waiting for something.
But this is it. We have to start from where we are right now - with all the chaos as well as the beauty. Learn to be with the plastic dust sheeting on the floor, and the too loud fireworks, in the same way as the flowering sage in the garden, and the splayed leaves of the young courgette plants. This is the stuff of life.
image: awakening by victor_nuno