Saturday, January 10, 2009

Zen And The Art of Shoveling Snow

"Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success." Swami Sivananda

There is a Zen saying, "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood carry water." I thought about this as I was shoveling this beautiful snow again yesterday. It was just like sugar, only lighter in weight..somewhere between powdered sugar and granulated sugar. It had the texture and sheen of the German glass glitter we sometimes see on Christmas ornaments or decorations. I have a lot to shovel, but putting one foot in front of the other, I shuffle down to the mail box and begin by digging out a place for our lovely mail lady to deliver the mail in her little vehicle. I clear the space for my box and my neighbor's..that feels like a good beginning. I think about our mail lady having to perform the same task every day..always new mail to deliver. She sometimes looks so weary, and she has often said she envies me. I sometimes wish I had the secure job and income she does..but they are both choices we make every day to live the life we do. I have a long driveway, and there are walls and bushes on all sides, so there is not much room for me to pile the snow and still leave a path for the car to come and go. I take it slow, and think of the muscles I'm using throwing each shovel full over the wall. I'm grateful for my energy, strength and good health...and that the wind is not blowing it all back in my face, as it did last time! ;-) I dig out two long paths on either side of the driveway, and then... slide the snow in straight lines from one side of the driveway...inhale, scoop.. into the bushes (they will thank me in the spring for the extra hydration, right?) exhale.... turn to the other side of the driveway..slide...inhale, scoop, over the wall...very meditative, and burns a few calories too! I see someone with a snow blower up the street, another neighbor with a plow on his four wheeler, and I'm grateful for my quiet practice, even if it does take over an hour, and they are done in less than five minutes. I remember when I was still living year round on Beaver Island, in the little summer cabin where my feet were so cold from October until May, and the drifts were up to my waist in that looooong driveway. I parked my car at the end of the drive back then, and thought I was a genius for thinking of it. I had to feed the stove at 4am every morning so I didn't freeze to death, but I survived to shovel another day! I have to share a bit of synchronicity with you....As I typed "chop wood, carry water" into my google search engine this morning, I found a wonderful site with the quote from Swami Sivananda. I didn't read the rest of the entry until a few minutes ago, but I want to share a little of it here and give them credit ...they finished my thought perfectly..we truly are all on the ride together:

We travel to the ocean or to mountains, rivers and canyons, in part to escape the mundane world of work, but also to experience the awe that arises more spontaneously in nature’s magnificence. We give ourselves an incredible gift when we can experience some of the same awe in the mundane world of our daily lives. The weed that grows in the crack of a sidewalk is a phenomenon as miraculous as the redwood tree that towers into the sky. The raindrops that streak the window are no less an occasion for awe than the spray that dampens our face at the waterfall. The fingers that tap a keyboard are as worthy of praise as the feet of a ballet dancer.
When we open awareness to the tasks in our lives they become lighter. When we are able to be in the moment, we no longer feel compelled to watch the clock. Whatever your work might be, bring all of yourself to it. When you are fully present, you may find that your labor is no longer a burden. Wood is chopped. Water is carried. Life happens.

Thanks for the use of the beautiful photo Janine Andrews! You can see her jewelry and ornaments on our website, but she's a wonderful painter and photographer too!

Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

  1. ~I have enjoyed visiting here~ & your website~
    Happy New Year & HaPpY BeLaTed BiRthDaY~


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