Sunday, May 17, 2009

Magic May Morning/Early Summer

This morning I went down to the spring that's near my house to take some pictures while all was quiet and the water was still. The place is a popular swimmin' hole, so it's impossible to get people-free pictures of the water later in the day.

I was happily snapping pics when something started dripping on me from the trees above. Slightly irritated, I shielded the camera and moved out of the way. I looked up for a guilty squirrel or bird, but saw nothing. So I continued around the spring, snapping when I saw anything that looked like a good shot.

A bit later, as I circled back toward the spot where part of the river that flows around a small island is used for boat launches, the drippy phenomenon started up again. This time, I was looking into the sun and could see that the water was dripping from all the trees around me, coming down in little cascades of twinkling drops. I remembered that we had had a terrific thunderstorm yesterday afternoon, so I finally figured out that the drops were moisture from the rain that had lingered on the trees overnight, only to be blown down by the early morning breezes.

The Tibetans have an expression called "a rain of flowers" that refers to either rainfall or snowfall (I've heard both) when the sun is shining. In the namthars (sacred biographies or hagiographies) of the Buddhist teachers that I've read, a rain of flowers sometimes appears as an auspicious sign. Of course, it's not surprising that I got irritated by this "rain" at first—I thought I was standing in an inauspicious spot!—but I was glad I finally figured out what was causing the droplets, so I could appreciate it as a beautiful natural phenomenon and not simply an irritation. I guess this is an example of how your perceptions can shift when you change the way you look at things.

As I was taking pictures of the main vent of the spring system (there are a couple of smaller vents closer to the river as well), I noticed two large fish had come up into the spring to explore. Two fish are an auspicious symbol in Buddhism as well; they can represent happiness, among other things. (I'm always happy to be at the springs!)

A bit later on near the boat launch, I heard a hawk call and saw two two large birds fly into a tree. I waited a bit, and while I wasn't quick enough or expert enough to get a picture, one of the hawks left the tree and flew right by me. Partly because "Faulkner" (falconer) is a family name on my mother's side, I feel a kinship with these beautiful birds; my spirits lift whenever I see one.

As I was driving up the little hill away from the spring and river area toward higher ground, a black crow flew in front of my car for a long way—not leaving the path of the winding road, but flying directly above it, almost as if to guide me away from the river.

I don't attribute any special significance to these events, by the way—I just think it can be inspiring to contemplate what Mother Nature will show us, if we are patient and focused enough to watch and listen.

Sometimes two fish are just two fish; other times, a symbol of two fish can represent beauty and abundance, or the embodied consciousness in which we so often find ourselves imprisoned.

Sometimes a hawk is just a hawk; other times, a hawk can remind us of our connections with our ancestors or inspire us to see things from different perspectives—the hawk's eye view.

Sometimes a crow is just a crow; other times, a crow can remind us of Mahakala, the dark protector of the Karma Kagyu lineage.

Sometimes raindrops can just be raindrops; other times, raindrops while the sun is shining (which happens a lot here in Florida!) can remind us of our beloved teachers, and of Buddhism's twin goals of wisdom and compassion.

It was really a magical start to the day—first being alone at the spring and then watching as two beautiful retrievers joyfully splashed around in the water with their owner; their delight was so obvious that I couldn't help smiling.

As I was leaving, more people began to arrive. How the springs draw us all in—it is true, isn't it, that "recreation" means, in part, a process by which we re-create ourselves?

There may be a magical place very near where you live. What is it? How does it reveal itself? How do you honor it? What can you do to protect it?

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