Last Saturday, from 10 to 1, at the Katonah Public Library in Katonah, New York (what a coincidence!), I had the joy of leading a delightfully diverse group of people in a workshop in “Write Mindfulness.” The name was meant to convey what we were trying, first sitting quietly and letting life flow in through all our sense doors, then describing what was present right then and right there–and then, still grounding our writing in sense memories, we wrote about our names and times we have been lost or lost something. How lively it became! There were people there who had never meditated before (I could tell because they kept their eyes open, warding off group hypnosis)–and I’m sure it seemed odd to them, the suggestion to be still experience how the body links us to different places and times, different worlds. But as people began to share what the wrote about how they felt about their names, for example, laughter started to warm the room. France, Poland, England, Sicily, Austria, memorable relatives and other characters from all times (and the movies, including me. I was named after Katherine Hepburn in “Philadelphia Story”) came into the room. There was (for me anyway) a rollicking mutual recognition that we actually inextricably connected to others and to the whole of life, even though most of time we don’t remember this. It might have sounded mawkish at first– my aim and hope was to help everyone there see how gifted everybody is–gifted with eyes and ears and a heart (the most sensitive recording device). But by the end the room was full of rich, touching, funny evidence. We are gifted! If only we could know that more of the time.
Recently I learned that the Latin root of the word patience means to carry. I’ve long contemplated the word “suffer” — that it also means to bear or contain. I remember once hearing the formidable Madame de Salzmann say “You have to learn to hold a question, to carry a question (and she meant an essential question, like “Why am I here?”). The head can’t rush answer.
Patience. I’m thinking it’s a bit like easing into water (I live near a little lake and nobody in my little family likes it as much as I do). It can be cold and frightening at first, then the water carries you. Liberates you! Then new experiences outside the cage of your own ego come flowing in…You are not what you think you are…….you are more…….