Contemplative Sitting Network Reflection for April 2024

I wasn’t in the path of totality for the recent solar eclipse but I sure didn’t miss taking it in.  With my iPhone in my pocket transmitting the NASA commentary,  I gazed into the sky.  I was both thrilled and mystified by wild cheers of the crowds at the moment of totality.   It reminded me of the roar of the crowd when women’s basketball star Caitlin Clark sunk a 35-foot shot.  “What does it mean,” I wondered to myself?  Will people be more mindful of the care of our common home because of this?  A friend suggested the cheering crowd represented the future of the planet.  The evening news was awash with commentaries the most outstanding of which to me was, “In a divided country, the line of totality became the unifier.” 

What does the contemplative practitioner do with this experience?  Absent the silence, it could be imagined as one long communal sitting period with Earth unequivocally declaring herself, in the words of Thomas Berry, “the fundamental revelatory experience.”   For some the  planet spoke not in the complete darkness of totality, but rather in a way similar to the first light that bathes a single point in the sky at dawn;  during the  eclipse however, it was a 360 degree sky announcing in the burgeoning light that the millions gathered on every possible inch of her surface are first of all Earthlings—she our Mother and we her children one and all. 

Many people spoke of the challenges they experienced returning to their homes after the eclipse.  Traffic notwithstanding, perhaps it was because there really is no returing to the point from which we originally travelled in the first place. In the words of the poet Juan Ramon Jimenez:  “I have a feeling that my boat/has struck, down there in the depths/[or up there in the heavens]/ against a great thing./And nothing happens! Nothing…silence…waves…/–Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,/and are we standing now quietly, in the new life?”  Keep looking, keep watching, keep seeing, keep sitting.

Blessings to each of you!

Margaret and Nancy

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