(There’s a custom here in Mexico that I don’t recall seeing much in Massachusetts. People sweep the sidewalks in front of their homes, then slosh buckets of soapy water over their small area . It gives the mornings an added scent of ‘cleanliness’; a nod and push towards a clean start to the day).
Today is Monday. It is the start of the week and the end of the month. It is hot, dry and dusty. Being Monday, it is Mop and Sweep Day. I have noticed that there is something about mundane household tasks that gets me thinking about yoga, meditation, and blog entries. You know that saying, “Before Enlightenment, chop wood carry water. After Enlightenment, chop wood carry water”? I am adding a middle section: “Whilst looking for Enlightenment chop wood carry water”. Now, substitute ‘sweep floors’ for ‘carry wood’.
Yesterday was Gardening Day. I had bought some potted plants and needed to get them in the ground. Now, the ground here is also not like the ground I am used to working with in Massachusetts. It is not loamy; it is hard, clumpy, greyish. We’ve inherited the prior tenant’s compost container, and I was able pull some dark, worm-filled soil out from the bottom and add it to my pots after pulling out the worms and plunking them back into their work environs.
One of the garden-able spots in our ground floor courtyard has particularly impenetrable soil. I had to use my claw rake, and a lot of grunting, to get it to begin to loosen up. Smashing one particularly recalcitrant clump, I noticed a glint. Not the glassy glint of a black widow spider (yes, we have those here and I use my Spidey Senses to avoid inadvertent contact with them), but the glint of gold- old, rosey gold. And diamonds. A few minutes later, after scrubbing my find with a toothbrush, I had a gleaming piece of jewelry in my hand.
And that- of course- got me thinking about treasures. And teaching. And how one of the rewards of studying and teaching yoga has been to watch those clumps break open and reveal the treasures within. In myself, and in my students. And how it is sometimes in the most abandoned, least cared for, arid parts of ourselves that we find the treasure we didn’t even know we were looking for.
So, yesterday I gardened, today I swept, and tomorrow who knows… but I don’t think that one can always be on the lookout for inspiration or revelation, or always trying to manufacture magical moments. Instead, through repetition- whether it’s the sweep of the broom or the sounding of a mantra or the chipping away at something- we set ourselves up to be in the right place at the right time for serendipitous intervention. And then we go back to whatever it was we were doing, still sweeping, still mining, still chopping wood carrying water