“The drought, now ‘extreme’ continues to plague Harvard and much of the state” is the headline this week in our local paper, the Harvard Press. Finally, after three months, we have rain — a long abiding rain. I check weather maps. It might clear for a few hours in the afternoon and I wonder if I should I keep the farm open today. But this lulling sound of rain, the drumming on the earth, soaks into my mind. I haven’t heard it for three months and I want it to continue.
It always gets this way during the harvest season. I go for too long without pausing. Even in this year without apples, there’s harvesting and canning, raspberry picking and jamming, touring the sculpture exhibit and entering into conversation with visitors.
Alone time doesn’t happen, a time of calm abiding. Especially late in the season, I crave the sweetness of quiet. Calm abiding is the translation of the Sanskrit word, shamatha, a Buddhist meditation practice where we are just here, present, abiding, letting the peaceful true nature of our mind reveal itself. An often used metaphor is of a lake reflecting the mountains around it. When the water is calm, the mountains can be clearly seen as if the lake was a mirror. When our mind is agitated, the mountains appear unclear and misshapen; the mirror needs polishing. When I look into the lake, I don’t see misshapen mountains — I don’t even see their outline. I need this abiding rain to clear my mind.
The Buddha taught that our minds are agitated by the six senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, and consciousness. Our minds are stimulated by these sensory inputs like winds that tease the surface of water. When the mind is quiet, we see clearly. As we look into the calm lake we can see fish, a turtle swimming, even the weeds; the murkiness has settled to the bottom.
In this high place
it is as simple as this,
Leave everything you know behind.
Step toward the cold surface,
say the old prayer of rough love
and open both arms.
Those who come with empty hands
will stare into the lake astonished,
there, in the cold light
reflecting pure snow,
the true shape of your own face.
We have one more full weekend for the farm. There will be African Drumming, a Watercolor Workshop in the orchard, the last of the red raspberries for the hunter and gatherers, and a guided tour of the sculpture exhibit. In our pond, eight hearts are floating, a Jubilation of Hearts, a sculpture I created with Gabrielle White. When the sun shines they reflect intensified colors of the rainbow, and under cloudy skies, the muted tones of the blue and green spectrum.
Barbara Andrus' suspended curly willow twigs dance in the wind almost touching the water below.
And Paul Matisse’s Olympic Bell installed in a grove of pine trees and wildflowers awaits visitors to pull the black braid of rope. Its deep reverberation fills the body; its deep note enters your heart. When it was first rung, a beaver swam over clearly curious about the sound waves in the water.
We all need to take a little time to listen to the drumming of rain, but it’s often hard to do this on our own. It’s hard to put down all the things we carry. I am grateful for this rain — for the thirsty plants and trees, for the parched earth, and for my own mind that needs this washing out.
Then, Bong.......ooonnngggg.......the beauty of this moment appears.