Monday, February 15, 2016

Between & Beyond Words

     “ ‘Teach a child the name of a bird,’ writes Jesuit author Anthony DeMello, ‘and she’ll never see that bird again.’
     DeMello means that language, by labeling phenomena, exacts two injuries. First, it obscures uniqueness: the mystery of this bird, this night’s moon. And second, it also fractures the unified field of mystics and physicists. … 
     So we wonder: How to create a family culture with abundant spaces beyond words? How, in such spaces, can we learn from Clea (18-month-old daughter) how to be part of nature’s web, both as individuals and together? … 

     In her book Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, family counselor Naomi Aldort encourages parents to refrain from reacting when our kids push our buttons. Buddhist teacher Jonathan Foust has a wonderful acronym for it: WAIT (Why Am I Talking?). 
     I use it a lot. When I’m about to either put a label on a mystery or try to make a situation right, I WAIT. I sink into the sky, a breeze … and also into my inner weather. Something interesting usually happens: The moment aligns. Life doesn’t need my brain.
     After a year of using Aldort’s practice, I realized part of why it’s effective. Instead of anthropocentrically narrowing reality, WAITing allows us to be biocentric: Clea and me both. It allows me to tune in to how attuned she is to surrounding sensory stimulus. She’s noticing a hawk overhead, wings stiff as kites. She’s stopping to pick daisies for Mom. She’s here, now: a plume of smoke, the coarse lick of our kitten Boot’s tongue, a crescent moon. Clea’s in a place of peace. It’s not the nervous, more-is-better place that fuels overconsumption and creates the divide between ourselves and the rest of nature. Clea is nature. Or, rather, she has yet to find out she’s not.”

       William Powers. “Child of Nature.” Lion’s Roar, March 2016.

Photo: David A. Lovas

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