Riding in the car on the Grand Concourse today, I saw a flock of pigeons flying up and across the street. I watched them as they flew, and I felt my spirit go up into the air with them. And suddenly I realized something – everything we genuinely meet carries a bit of us away with it. It’s like water wearing away at a stone. The edges are smoothed and eventually a hole is created in the middle of hard rock. For every true encounter, we get closer to the day when our heart is revealed: empty of constructs, with its hardness worn away into fertile silt, and ready to be fully occupied by whoever we meet in the present moment.
Meditation practice can become that true encounter with ourselves. Waking up in our daily lives, the fruit of meditation, is the genuine encounter we have with the world around us, with all of phenomenon. And when we are truly hollowed out and available, our heart can be filled with the joy of others, with joy for others. Then we are truly joyful because being joyful is not contingent on our own circumstances but on the joy of all beings, which is an infinite resource.
Spend time with the phenomenal world. Look at a tree in the breeze; watch the leaves move, dappled with sunlight. Let your eyes follow a flock of birds as it whirls around in the sky. Feel the wind across your skin; smell the air. Let the joy of a flower in bloom penetrate your heart. Even as our spirit goes out in these tiny moments, it expands to fill the entire world, and the joy of everything becomes our joy.
And yes, I know there are moments when joy is not available. There are moments when sadness overtakes us, and we cannot feel a connection to others, not even a flower. When that happens, touch your heart. It’s ok. Even in sadness, try to love yourself. The rest of the world will wait for you.