Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon

A month has a second full moon every two or three years. This second full moon in a single month (or "moon-th") can be called a blue moon. The fact that the blue moon occurs on New Year's Eve is rare--it happens once in a blue moon; it won't happen again until 2028.

The Buddha lived in a culture that had a lunar calendar. (We use a solar calendar.) He and the monks and nuns meditated all night long under the full moon, the new moon, and the quarter moons. Today monks and nuns still sit all night on full moon and new moon nights.

During the holidays--the holy days--we are more likely to relax and kick back into mindlessness rather than to pay extra attention to the present moment.

Still, tonight is a good time notice the full moon arcing high in the winter sky--even if we do turn blue with cold while we're gazing.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jade Stars

My 25-year-old jade plant is flowering for the very first time. Sprays of small white stars hovering over the succulent leaves surprised me when i returned home in early December from a month-long retreat.

A Master Gardener friend tells me her jade plant flowers every year. After summer vacation, Alice, a teacher and a mother, puts her plants in the garage and then brings them indoors in October.

The comparing mind could start chewing on this. "If Alice can do it, and i can't, therefore something is wrong with me." Is that really logical?

Alice's jade plant blooms. Mine usually doesn't.

A jade plant blooms under the right conditions: withhold water around the time of the first frost (in October), keep it cool, then resume very light watering. If like me, you water your jade plant regularly, then it won't bloom. This year, however, the jade plant went unwatered as i was rushing around preparing for my month-long retreat. When i returned home in early December, the jade plant was blooming.

And after four weeks of withholding myself from contact with the world, so was i.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Cactus

The Christmas cactus have been blooming for a month now. Their shocking pink three-tiered blossoms that end in a fountain of stamens cheer up the dining room table.

My friend Linda has her grandmother's red Christmas cactus--a stately plant that requires its own plant stand to gracefully drape its capacious green skirt over. My sister, who has 12 pairs of peach shoes, likes orange Christmas cactus.

My own straggly Christmas cactus have to endure the indignities of having a mother (me) with too many plant children. In the summer i shoo them all outdoors for rain showers and sunbaths. Then in September, i troop them all back in to their one-room solarium where they obediently sit until the time comes for them to bloom as star pupils.

Very soon now, the Christmas cactus will cease blooming and return to the back row of plants. Some other bloomer will draw my attention, as i skim over the main lesson, the salient point not really sinking in.

All around me, everything is changing.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Wild Christmas Tree

In late November, the tree service came and cut the tops off 3 hemlocks that were beginning to block our view. I dragged one of the crowns up to the house, and Bill cut off the bottom four feet. The green-needled branches still stretch for the sunlight, but now the treetop is based in a red-and-green Christmas tree stand.

I actually prefer the spaciousness among the branches of a wild tree because i can see the decorations hanging in thin air, much as mindfulness can help us notice the--sometimes very small--space between the thoughts that consume our attention. What we assumed was a solid background of constant thinking turns out to be flashes separated by space.

I love having a tree from our own woods living indoors with us. Covered with lights, it reminds us of a sun-blessed greener season.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Rooted in Darkness

In this season of extreme darkness, it takes efforts to notice the imperceptible but steady move toward light. We've already gained 7 minutes of sun at the end of the day, since the earliest sunset on December 7.

This year i began to force hyacinths later than other years. I always wait to buy the bulbs on sale after Thanksgiving, but this year i was on retreat in England for the month of November. By December, my usual sources had sold out of bulbs, so i had to hunt hyacinths on the internet.

When they arrive, i set the bulbs in forcing vases filled to neck with water. Then i leave the 2 dozen vases in the cool dark basement. Week by week i can see white roots growing. Roots require darkness--of earth, or, in this case, water.

The roots of our thoughts and actions grow in the darkness of unconsciousness. Applying mindfulness moment by moment eventually adds up to more light--and lightness--in our lives.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Meditative Gardener goes to press

The Meditative Gardener is about to sprout! The book designer sent the .pdf to the printer. The actual books will be available on Groundhog Day, the day when the earth spirits that have been sleeping all winter poke their heads above ground to check out the climate.

The first harbinger of spring--a new gardening/meditation book!