This morning in the cottage while my tea was cooling, I returned to the front door for my slippers. Usually I don’t spend long in this spot- treating it as a transition step- removing boots, hanging up my coat, then heading into the big room.
I don’t know what got my attention, perhaps the grasses waving at me or the bees buzzing my name.
I do know that curled up, gazing out that little west window, it felt as if someone had just changed the channel. What an entirely different view this was than from big windows in the other room just 20 feet away. Narrow and angled it offered a unique perspective on a familiar scene.
So, there, in the lap of a slow Sacred Pause I scooted up real close to the world- watching drips dance down the rain chain…. studying insect-nibbled patterns on potato vine leaves. The window box overflowing with greens, pinks and browns sported a full palette of fall colors on a single plant. Even closer, in the foreground, a spider was busy weaving her tapestry between screen and window pane.
Further out, the heads of Miscanthus grasses bowed and bobbed on long, slender necks.
And in the very background, trees dropped their leaves , gently … like a flower girl drops rose petals down the aisle ; one here, another there. Setting the tempo for the procession.
LIFE… so much life, just outside that window!
Finches, Blue Jays, Goldfinches leaping from limb to limb unable to sit still… Crows scanning the ground methodically for snacks …movement.. everywhere, continuously.
I must have sat there 20 minutes.
The longer I looked, the more I saw.
Finally, when I pulled the lens in real tight… there on the plaster wall right before me were sweeping patterns of straw flecks , just 12” from my face. Different lengths, shapes, hues… morning light hitting some until they shone like spun gold. Tiny trowel tracks and indentations from loving hand-plastering and amazing contrasts in texture and light everywhere.
Wow- how can there be so much to enjoy in so little a space?!
I’m sure there is no museum in the world that could have held my attention as much as that visit to my cottage window.
Sometimes my imagination and I play a game. I’ve been doing this as long as I can remember. It began as a kid laying alone in bed scanning around my room. Now I recall it at times like this… when I am waiting for something or have been staring a while.
I ask myself, “If I was suddenly unable to move again- an instant paraplegic or a prisoner suddenly confined to a tiny cell- could I stare at this view, this one right before me, for days or weeks or maybe even years? Could I be content with just this window on the world… for the rest of my life?”
I love this game. It forces me to really look. Really appreciate. Challenges me to notice everything… everything I think I see and everything that I don’t yet notice.
The answer is always yes. If I had to, I could find enough in this little slice of view to keep me interested.
Because what I discover is that nothing stays the same. The same patch of wall changes color and shape as the light changes. Seasons paint new colors out the window. Insects visit and leave their gifts.
And the more the mind rests, the more the sense doors open to deliver new smells, sensations, sounds … every moment.
That is what I found when I paid a visit to another window in my cottage… with “Beginner’s Mind”.
There are treasures waiting when we show up with new eyes. Sometimes it just takes slowing down and looking at the familiar through a different window.
In Zen Buddhism, “Beginner’s Mind” refers to “having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.” (Wikipedia)
I invite you to cultivate Beginner’s Mind :
~Sit someplace in your house you’ve never sat… maybe outside looking up at the roofline, on the kitchen floor, a windowsill, or the middle step.
~What does your favorite tree look like from underneath staring up into the canopy?
~Take a ride as a passenger in the backseat.
~Try a familiar task using your non-dominant hand.
Any way you can- savor the view …look out another window !