Monday, December 31, 2018


My apologies for the extended silence! I have been working on an art catalogue text which has proved more challenging and time consuming that I had expected, so I have been setting other important things aside. I have, however, been posting squibs on my Facebook page, and it was one of my FB friends whose comment inspires this year-end review.

The Buddha Diaries readers may have missed my hummingbird story. The tiny creature flew into our living room the other day and could not find its way back out. I opened the doors and windows and tried herding it toward those exits for a while, even fetching a broom from the closet to extend my reach. To no avail. Flying desperately back and forth from end to end along the ceiling, the bird eventually hit the wall at one end and collapsed out of sight onto a high, narrow shelf, so I brought in a short ladder and climbed up to inspect.

The hummingbird was lying there on the shelf, so inert that I wondered briefly if it had died in the collision with the wall. Picking it up as gently as I could--this was the tiniest little body that you can imagine--I held it in the palm of my hand and took it out to the balcony that overlooks our street. There I opened my palm to see if it would come to its senses and fly off. Miraculously, it did come back to life, quite slowly, and climbed up onto one of my fingers, sitting there for several minutes and seeming to stare at me while it recovered.

I called Ellie from her basement studio: Come, quick! Look at my finger! Not imagining for a moment that it would stay much longer, I asked her to bring her iPhone up and take a picture. Which she did...

And the little bird stayed and stayed. I can't begin to describe the feeling of that weightless weight on my fingertip, the eye-to-eye, flesh to flesh contact with this creature from the wild. It was utterly amazing.

Which brings my to my point. My Facebook friend reminded me that such events inevitably bring a message and I took the opportunity in meditation this morning to contemplate what that message might be--especially in the context of the end of this year and tomorrow's start of a new one.

And the word that came to me was "connection." The miraculous encounter was a moment of rare connection between this one human being and a living creature from totally alien realm of existence. I felt I had been privileged to experience it and that it had something of importance to teach me.

I have always loved these brilliant lines from E. M. Forster's Howard's End: 
Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon.Only connect the prose and the passion and the whole will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.
I need to think about the beast and the monk and their isolation a little further. The words resonate, but their meaning is as yet unclear. But "Only connect! ... and human love will be seen at its height"- and "live in fragments no longer"--those are words to live by.

The words I write and put out into the world are certainly a manifestation of my own urge to connect. The response I receive back in return--sometimes instantaneously, as on Facebook, sometimes only many years later--gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I have made the connection I was trying to make. I think this is the case for every creative endeavor.

Yet still--and this is where I come to formulate my intention for the coming year--I have to recognize that I have always found the immediacy of personal connection harder to put into practice. So these were the words that came to me in meditation: nurture connection. It's a good lesson to be learned from a hummingbird.

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