Tuesday, August 4, 2009

just let things be

you might be tired from the last bike ride, but come along with me for this memory.

you see, i was biking along a country road
and as i passed this old man tree
he called out to me in a soft round voice. . .

"have you time" . . .

so i made some.

i got off my bike and sat with my back to him
and listened.

he said,
"i'm glad we can share time.
do you know walt whitman's words?"

if you, passing,
meet me,
and desire to speak to me,
why should you
not speak to me?
and why should I not speak to you?

"you see", he continued, "i was thinking those words as you passed.
because i could feel that you needed a story.
and i have just such a story.

it's a story about beauty."

a priest was in charge of the garden within a famous zen temple.
he had been given the job because he loved the flowers, shrubs, and trees.

next to the temple there was another, smaller temple where there lived a very old zen master.

one day, when the priest was expecting some special guests,
he took extra care in tending to the garden.
he pulled the weeds,
trimmed the shrubs,
combed the moss,
and spent a long time meticulously raking up
and carefully arranging all the dry autumn leaves.

as he worked, the old master watched him with interest from across the wall
that separated the temples.

when he had finished, the priest stood back to admire his work.
"isn't it beautiful," he called out to the old master.
"yes," replied the old man, "but there is something missing.
help me over this wall and i'll put it right for you."

after hesitating, the priest lifted the old fellow over and set him down.
the master walked to the tree near the center of the garden,
held it by the trunk, and shook it.

leaves showered down all over the garden.
"there," said the old man,
"you can put me back now."

a warm breeze spread its fingers through the old tree rustling his leaves.
the branches swayed slightly.
one brushed my head.
i took this as the end of our time.

and see the peaceful trees extend
their myriad leaves in leisured dance—
they bear the weight of sky and cloud
upon the fountain of their veins.

just let things be.

the zen story was sourced from here.


Tess Kincaid said...

What a magnificent, wise old tree. Trees speak to me, as well.

Tess Kincaid said...

Oh, I see you're reading the Gappers of Frip! Isn't it delightful?

Jinksy said...

Loved the story - also the idea of leave(s) well alone...

Titus said...

Steven, I don't know what the time difference between us is but your new posts always seem to be waiting for me in the morning, and are like a reminder of what's important for my day. These thoughts would not come to me otherwise. And thanks for the Kathleen Raine too. I wish you a lovely day!

Eryl said...

Steven, you have saved me; I have a friend coming today and was just about to start frantically cleaning the house!

Anonymous said...

Just marvelous, Steven. Old man and the tree, but you are young and I am the old man. LOL

It does remind me of my white oak tree outside my window. The rain is hitting the leaves as I write. It is the daughter of the old oak we ate grease sandwiches under at my country school during the Second World War. It is big now.

I really loved the piece you wrote today and the photo with it.

Making history.
Pick a Peck of Pixels

Shaista said...

This is a beautiful post, all my favourite things centred right in it :) Something moves gently between the lines. Thankyou!

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

Hi Steven,

I think I will take that as a guiding thought for the day - "just let things be".

As an inveterate fixer and problem-solver, this just could be the mantra I need. Thank you!

Reya Mellicker said...

Let it be, one of my favorite Beatles songs.

I love thinking about letting things be, but as for the practice of that sublime art? Hmmm ... I struggle with it.

Off to a busy day now ... oh well!! Maybe I can let myself be as busy as I like to be. Is that OK?

steven said...

good morning willow, i've always loved trees and wood and leaves. it's perhaps why i love the autumn so much. because they really become the focal point of the landscape for me at that time. there is so much in trees.
the gappers of frip?! yes willow and that's from a suggestion you made about an earlier posting of mine. it's a hilarious really amazingly illustrated book!!! have a lovely day at the manor. steven

steven said...

hi jinksy, i'm prone to making more of things than is necessary. to really worry that things aren't good enough. more often than not that extra tinkering pushes wahtever it is into the realm of overdone and makes it less of an experience. i'm learning! have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hello titus, well i'm on eastern standard time if that helps!!! i'm glad that my writing helps frame your day in a happy-making way. i'm surrounded by people who do much the same for me and so we take care of each other don't we!!! i loved the kathleen raine and will post some more when the opportunity presents itslef. have a peaceful day. steven

steven said...

hi eryl, that's hilarious and synchronous as this house has guests coming tomorrow. it isn't filthy in here but it really needs an army of a similar scale to the one that grubbed it up to come and clean it up. i sure hope the blogosphere is packed with escape today!!!! have a lovely day - let the cleaning go!!!! steven

steven said...

hi abe, i was drawn to this tree on my ride out so i made a point of spending time there on my way back. the road it's by is fairly quiet and so i really appreciated listening to that old guy's ideas. 'cause one day i'll be the old guy and people will expect the same sort of wisdom right!! have a peaceful day out there abe. steven

steven said...

hi bonnie, i've noticed that i spend a lot of time trying to make things right or to make them "just right" and while there's value in that because i do those things for people i love, people i have a connection to on almost any level, there's also the idea that i am taking away something by controlling all the factors that make their life work. can you tell i have teenage children in that phrase?!!! so the posting - you nailed it. thanks for visiting and for your comments. have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hi reya, thanks for visiting. i'm with you on the distance between the goodness of an idea and the goodness of living with that idea. that's where there's suffering available if you need it!!!
i think that this post is as much about getting out of the way of letting things flow as they are and being less invasive in making that flow happen so if you think about the posts you've shared lately it has a connection. when will stuff happen? when will the next chapter of the story be written? ohhh it'll happen and then hang on tight!!
it's also about the beauty of imperfection. allowing the "flaw" to be the element that makes the whole more beautiful.
busy day! all i could think of when i read that was come back in a month when i'm in teacher mode and let's see if we notice a difference in steven then!!!! have a sweet day reya. steven

ellen abbott said...

I love the story. The old zen master had it exactly right. And there is just something so comforting about trees. thanks for this.

steven said...

hi ellen, thanks for visiting. in the morning i have the windows open - unless it's really bucketing down outside - and listen to the trees. it's the most peaceful way to waken slowly if that's an option for you!!!
contunuing that state through the day is challenging as reya alludes to above. but the learning i took from this was to to allow for messiness in all things. that perfection is debilitating and trying to maintain things in that state gets in the way of everyone's pleasure!! have a peaceful day. steven

Dan Gurney said...

There's some synchronicity happening. On recent walks I've taken I've been usually aware of the beauty of the voices of trees as they whisper and mumble in the wind. Saturday, as we walked beneath a row of pines I asked my wife, "Is there any voice more eloquent than a pine singing in the breeze?"

I couldn't think of any.

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...


Seems you are evoking a lot of synchronicity everywhere you go! Hope you will check out my response to your comment on my blog. Thanks!

steven said...

hi bonnie, well i did check out your response and i hope that comment readers from here will skip over to your place and eavesdrop some more on this cool little connection! steven

Loren said...

Yesterday I tried to convince an elderly friend who's a birder that she should just leave the leaves on the ground if they weren't on her lawn.

I'll have to refer her to this story :-)

steven said...

hi loren, and there's the essence of the tale. the magic is in the messiness!! steven