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Posted By Opening the Heart

Today the buds opened on the maple tree outside my window and reminded me of a precious truth.

But before I go into that I first want to say how much I much I enjoyed watching the children play last summer on the dragon tire swing that dangles from this tree. The humid air, swollen with moisture, made everything feel lush and alive.  
Like every other year during the middle of August the dry air came down from Canada and it was a great time to go camping. Those golden days stretched into fall but brought change and the foreshadowing of loss.   

The trees glowed with color in October but the snap of frost deepened into the cold winds of early winter. Except for the evergreens everything died back to the root. When I looked out at my maple I could see only the bones of branches outlined against the pale blue of northern skies. 

Eventually everything froze. During the time when it’s so cold that the ice turns almost green, nothing in nature moved. 

 And then the wheel turned again. The earth in New Hampshire began to breathe.  The waters underneath the ice began to flow. The sun began to come back and then the buds began to grow. 

 How lucky to have this constant reminder of the cycle of life. Everything that is full becomes empty. Everything that is empty becomes full. The yin and the yang. The rhythm of the dance. 

 The rhythm of our dance. The changes we all go through. The personal deaths and rebirths we go through after major loss or change. The death and rebirth cycles present in close relationships – particularly after major loss or change. The deaths and rebirths in families, communities and more. 

 No, there’s nothing we can do to avoid this constant change, the accompanying loss and sometimes accompanying pain. But the best thing about Spring to me is simply this: it always comes. It always comes again and again and again. There’s not one thing that we can do to stop it. And after the pain of loss of the old comes new life. Always. This reality-based certainty is an incredible source of comfort and peace to me. 

 To live in harmony with this natural cycle is one of the crowning tasks of emotional and spiritual maturity in one’s lifetime. To paraphrase the Buddhist Heart Sutra, to be in harmony with it is “the heart of perfect wisdom”. 

 My maple tree lives in that perfect harmony.  Someday I hope to be like this maple.  I want to open my green buds to the zestiness of new life and bask in the fullness of the summer sun. I want to glow with my true colors when it is fall and then let go of what is passing without trying to hold on. Lastly, when the killing winds of winter blow I want to draw nourishment from roots which reach far beneath the frozen ground. And I want to do it with as much grace and equanimity as this maple. Until then I will watch, be reminded and continue to learn.

 
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