Today I noticed two things that stopped me in my tracks. As much as I attempt to practice the “Watercourse Way” (see my online course on Taoism at OneAndAllWisdom.com), today’s separate events caused me to marvel at the wonderful and mysterious ways that “going with the flow” actually may work.
Years ago, back in the early 1980’s, I brought from my mother’s old home place to Earthsprings where I now live some Louisiana iris bulbs, maybe ten or twelve. All during my young years at home, I had sat on our front porch in the old porch swing and looked at hundreds of wild Louisiana iris blooming in a low place beside a little stream not far form our house. I loved their beauty. So when I came to Earthsprings and I saw a similar low place where water tended to collect, I went back to my mother’s home, put on my mud boots, and went out to dig up a few of those iris bulbs. When I returned to Earthsprings, I put those bulbs in the ground here, saying sweet words to them about carrying on a legacy and continuity and I don’t remember what all else. They seem to have heard me, for they lived and flourished.
Louisiana iris love “wet feet,” and given the right conditions, they multiply dramatically. They have done so in this low place at Earthsprings. Now there are several hundreds of them in front of the Medicine Lodge. And, significantly, they have steadily multiplied and moved downstream, year by year, in the edge of the little seasonal run-off, past the culvert, through the woods, all on their own, until now there is a batch of them right there across from my kitchen window. Their spreading like that seems miraculous enough, but that is not what startled me today.
What I saw today was a single iris plant growing not in that stream area, but alongside the road that runs around toward the bunkhouse, near the old Woodhenge. No stream in sight. Amazing. How did this single iris get over there? Will it bloom? Will it grow there and multiply there? I almost mowed it down with the riding mower while I was hauling wood, since I didn’t know it was there, didn’t expect it to be there. Later, I went back to stand beside it, and to smile, and to think about my mother and my stepfather and the old faithful dog that used to lie under my feet when I sat on that old porch swing. I knew I was looking at a descendant of those same iris plants I had admired way back then, some seventy or so years ago. Here they are, showing up, to me, today, and in this unlikely way in this unlikely place.
Then, later, oddly during the same day, I saw a second such thing. A single daffodil, blooming itself delightfully, in a most unlikely (and certainly unplanted) place.
The daffodils I planted some years ago were right in front of the door to the house. They bloomed beautifully each spring for a few years. But then, when I began to have back issues and couldn’t weed so easily, the sturdy grass in that area overtook most everything, and almost all of the daffodils disappeared. I was, of course, saddened by this. The few daffodils that have barely managed to survive are short things with tiny blooms. They are still lovely, and I appreciate them. But they are a far cry from the big blooms of years gone by.
However…today, a couple hundred yards from those initial daffodils, down a path and up on a little hill, stands a single daffodil, seemingly arriving from nowhere, now in full bloom, large yellow petals for all the world to behold. How did that daffodil get there? Water couldn’t have washed it there as it is too far up the little hill. Gophers, moles, misplaced tossing of weeds a few years ago? What? Mysterious. But blessed.
It moves me to ponder how all the plans we make that seem to be blasted, all the ways that we think things ought to be and don’t work out—well, we may often be surprised at the curious turns of fate, the unforeseen serendipity, the stubborn persistence, the inventive ways of Mother Nature, and of nature itself, and of our own nature too. Again and again, it’s all just “Wow!”
As always, this has led me to wander among some of my favorite quotations, celebrating in this way with their authors the sense of sacrament and delight such events always provoke. I send along to you a few of these quotations, below, perchance to set you off into a similar state of wonderment, always a blessing.
“When you eventually see through the veils to how things really are, you keep saying again and again, ‘This is certainly not like what we thought it was!’” Rumi
“Sometimes I go about pitying myself and all the time I am being carried on great winds across the sky.” Ojibway saying
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.” Third Zen Patriarch
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whosoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.” Albert Einstein
“At the moment you are most in awe of all there is about life that you don’t understand, you are closer to understanding it all than at any other time.” Jane Wagner
“In these latter-day degenerate times, cherry blossoms everywhere!” Issa
“If you are depressed, you are too far up in your mind.” Carl Jung
“Being a Sufi is to put away what is in your head—imagined truth, preconceptions, conditioning—and to face what may happen to you.” Abu Said
“Approach it and there is no beginning; follow it and there is no end. You can’t know it, but you can be it, at ease in your own life.” Lao Tzu
“Logically considered, Zen may be full of contradictions and repetitions. But as it stands above all things, it goes serenely on its own way.” D. T. Suzuki
“Man fixes some wonderful erection of his own between himself and the wild chaos, and gradually goes bleached and stifled under his parasol. Then comes a poet, enemy of convention, and makes a slit in the umbrella; and lo! The glimpse of chaos is a vision, a window to the sun.” D. H. Lawrence