Being Astonished

Spring this year seems to be teasing us this year, days of chill and then once again a promise of warmth. Nonetheless, the daffodils are everywhere, the cherry blossoms made their breath-taking appearance and the arugula in my garden is almost 2 inches high. I love honoring the rites of spring, preparing for Easter and  taking  time to just behold the promise of newness all around. Last weekend I journeyed out to Dayspring, a contemplative retreat center in Germantown for a 3 day silent retreat. Just allowing myself that space to settle in, pay attention and listen is restorative and actually astonishing. While my main pastime was just listening in the silence, I walked the grounds, walked a labyrinth, watched  deer  did some journal writing. There were 14 people on this retreat and I’m quite amazed how close I felt to them each without words. Sometimes I notice how I actually allow words to get in the way of knowing and being with someone. Sharing this scared space and time was very connecting. While our retreat leader invited us to consider several images throughout the weekend, this David Whyte poem captured my deepest experience of allowing myself to be astonished.

The Opening of Eyes

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.

 — David Whyte
from Songs for Coming Home
©1984 Many Rivers Press