Slacking ~ Sacred Work

This is the month of Elul, the sacred time in which we prepare ourselves for the new year and for the holiest of days – Yom Kippur.  Although it is called the day of atonement, its meaning I think is much more interesting.

We are called on, in this time of preparation, to look at our year, our lives, our internal and external selves.  We are supposed to see what we could have done better, what we can do to be our better selves, to improve.  What we have to apologize for, to make amends for so that each new year begins as a clean slate, lunar calendar that is.

And I admit, I have been slacking.  Life intrudes as always and makes it hard to make quiet space for the reflection we are asked to  do.  And even more important, I think it should be done with pen and paper, not just in my head.  So this confession is to inspire me to make that space.  To do the work.  It is never easy if you do it right, it requires serious internal digging, but the rewards can be remarkable.

Looking at my physical self, I know I can do better, food, weight, exercise, meditation.  The list is self evident and requires a bit of a deeper look.  My communal relationships, of course I can do better, again. Reaching out to people, feeding my friendships, building relationships. I can always do more. My emotional self, I can always work on not living in feelings.  As I know feelings aren’t facts.  I can always work on gratitude as an antidote to the hard feelings and enjoying the good ones in the moments they happen. My spiritual self, we are back to meditation, prayer and the internal work of this most wonderful time of year.

So, not really slacking, just a little slow in putting pen to paper and doing the digging. The pen is the most effective shovel I know of, just have to pick it up. This is the start.  [tweetshare tweet=”Hopefully by Yom Kippur I will be ready, a clean slate once more for the year to come, or at least having cleared some of the detritus away.  L’shanah tovah umetekah. A sweet and wonderful new year, just a snitch early.” username=”@trienahm”]

Solitude~Serenity

 

The gardens at the Biltmore estate are astounding. There is an ethereal serenity to the solitude of the farthest gardens. These are the ones many tourists are too lazy or uninterested to walk to and so there is a quiet not found in the front gardens.

Throughout the entire estate there is an unparalleled attention to detail while displaying an intense respect for nature. Fields planted with corn are bordered by a wide berm of gorgeous sunflowers, and those are bordered again to the road with a riotous display of blooming wildflowers.  You drive through a forest, a narrow winding road bordered by bamboo and leatherleaf ferns.  You round a bend and there is a wide swath of tended lawn and mulch created out of the forest to display a magnificent tree more than a century old.  Each turn reveals a natural, but human tended, miracle.

But the gardens, those are designed and tended like a precious child. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted these gardens are something everyone should see. There is an Asian garden, an azalea garden, a shrub garden, and so on.  It is not possible to bring them to life in words. On this visit, I went to see the Chihuly installation in the gardens and it did not disappoint.  The sculptures respected the natural surroundings in which they were installed and the nature enhanced the art.

i spent several hours, first in the more crowded areas where most of the art was installed.  But then just wandering slowly through the rest of the gardens, it was a walking meditation, serene and beautiful.  And around the occasional corner, a random sculpture; sometimes a bench to just sit and ponder.

It began to drizzle just as I was ready to start walking back.  I had an umbrella, but under the spreading arms of the ancient trees there was no rain. Just peace.