Part II: We Do Not Fear Change, But We Do Feel Loss
(Click here for Part I.)
What is smaller than a split-second? A mili-second? A nano-second? All long enough for my heart to skip a beat, worried I was too late. When I opened the nest of my hands, the slightest moment of fear sparked.
Then that bird jumped from those hands into the nest of the bush, into the wider world. Into the Wide Open.
Surely this was a time for exaltation.
Yet I found myself sobbing. Uncontrollably. Surrendering to this crest of emotion I could not name then, still cannot name now, but could only ride and allow to flow through me.
Buddhists call this Samsara: the cycle of life, the continuous movement through birth, living, death, and returning to life. Our movement through freedom and confinement, liberation and illusion. Thanissaro Bhikku says that
Instead of a place, [Samsara is] a process: the tendency to keep creating worlds and then moving into them. As one world falls apart, you create another one and go there. At the same time, you bump into other people who are creating their own worlds, too.
We do best when we do not cling – a worthy aspiration, but rather vexing to live into.
My mind catches on that last sentence from the Bhikku’s wisdom. Maybe it’s true: we bump into other people. Just people. But given what took place in my tiny world and my spacious heart, both during the Animal Blessing worship and most certainly during my encounter in the Parish House with a jewel-throated hummingbird, I’m going to affirm that we bump into all sorts of creatures, including ones with wings, fur, or scales, who surprise us with wise and worthy lessons.
May we always be reminded more of what we love than what we fear. May we all find our way out of the walls that keep us in. May we find our way out into the world that holds our collective liberation, so tender, so dire. May we – at birth, throughout life, and in death – surrender with humility and curiosity.