“They’re called sewing bugs,” the mother said, answering her little daughter’s fiftieth question of the day.
“Sewing bugs!” the daughter exclaimed. “Why?”
The mother pulled a darning needle from her mending basket and showed the little girl the long, thick shaft of it and explained that the hole at the end was called the needle’s eye. She threaded a short piece of black yarn through the needle and waved it through the air. “See?” she laughed.
“What do they sew?” the little girl asked.
“They sew up the mouths of little girls who ask too many questions,” the mother said. The little girl frowned.
“I’m just kidding, honey. You may ask as many questions as you like. The truth is that sewing bugs sew our laughter into the days so that all our memories will be embroidered with joy.”
And even when she had become an old lady, the little girl smiled at the sight of the iridescent insects and remembered her mother with love.
Here’s what the forest teaches: Peace is not what you think.
It’s not stillness.
It’s full, and rich, and flowing. It’s filled with motion and reaching.
It contains all contrasts – light and shadow, birth and death, pleasure and pain, sorrow and rejoicing – in one eternal and perfect dance.
It’s all that is, and was, and will be, woven inseparably together and singing the Great Yes.
It has no edges, no bounds. There is no outside.
The lemony little flowers gleam in the shy light, their faces turned downward, their laughter a quiet golden chime. Not all light shines boldly. Think of the way it whispers across the sky at dawn, or illumines the mist that rises from the lake after rain.
It knows precisely what is needed. And so it pours itself tenderly through these fragile petals in a soft caress. It springs from love, after all, and is the carrier of its song.
As the seasons’ circle spins, earth measures it in flowers. Now, with summer at its zenith, the Joe Pye weed climbs toward the sky as if it had sprung from Jack’s magic beans.
“Come, golden rod,” it sings. “Come blue chicory and Queen Anne’s lace! The bees are gathering for their summer feast. The corn is ripening in the field. Come! Come! It’s time for celebration!”
Overhead, the sun smiles and sings songs of its own.
You never know what a morning will bring, what adventures a day will hold. But keep your eyes open wherever you go, and you’ll see opportunity flowers.
They pop up every minute, you know, and come in all shapes and sizes. And the magical thing about them is this: they always whisper your name.
Sometimes they’re gigantic, and sometimes they’re tiny and hide so well that you have to seek a bit to spot them. But you can be sure of this: they perpetually blossom. And they’re free! Gather as many as you want. (And remember, more will be right around the bend.)
You stand a bridge looking at the scene before you. It can be anything, a railroad, a river, a tangle of freeways.
It’s easy to take its apparent permanence for granted. Had you stood here a week ago, it would have been much the same. Except for changes of light and weather, you could come back six months from now and expect its major pieces to be intact – the rails, the trees, the curves of the roads.
But how much more fragile things are than we assume. In the blink of an eye, everything can change, and does. Even the mind that perceives it.
The world is a dance that never stands still, a symphony that plays on and on.
Breathe in this moment mindfully, love. In a blink, another will take its place.
The only because that happiness knows ends at the end of the word. It is its own reason; it needs nothing more. And besides, what more could you add?
Why are you beaming? Why so bright? Why do you dance? And why this song?
Why this laughter? Why this sweet sigh? Why this bold grin? Why now?
Ask all you want. The answer is clear. Because! Because! Because!
It’s the delicate things that convince me that the fundamental nature of the Great Yes is love. The tender petals of flowers, the morning’s apricot fog, the wings of bees and butterflies could have been otherwise, and the world would have gone on.
Touch the skin on a child’s face, a baby animal’s fur. Listen to a lark’s song or to a cello played by a master’s hand. Meditate on the color blue.
Reduce it all to mathematics if you will. But then tell me how you calculate the tear of compassion pooling in the corner of my eye.
This scene you see before did not appear overnight. No, it took millennia. It took forces mightier than man can marshal or even comprehend. It took eons, and the coming and going of countless lives. Mountains had to move, continents shift, rainforests turn to ice and melt again.
Why, imagine the rush of water that had to course between these banks to lift those rocks onto that boulder. Imagine what it took to carve the boulder itself.
And with all that, so great is the tenderness of it all that fragile purple blossoms dance in today’s sunlight and little minnows swim in this stream.
How can our minds not be stunned with wonder? How can our hearts not be brimming with joy?
The raindrops, legend has it, sing the names of all who live, and of all who ever have, or ever will. And all the thoughts of kindness that have ever lived within their hearts, or will, wash down into our world with their names.
When we open our hearts as the rain falls, we will hear this song of names, and our hearts will fill with its comfort and joy.
When we hold the rain in our hands, its kindness will seep into our souls.
We are born knowing this. Watch children laugh as they stretch their tongues to the rain, as they dance barefoot in the kindness of the wet grass.