Touch bell stick to bell, warming it, breathe in, breathe out, then make one sure stroke. The ring changes the air. The ring rings through din. The din stills. The ring makes silence all around, all around. Explosions cease. Bombardment ends. Combatants stop to enjoy the sound of Buddha's voice. The ring gathers time into one moment of peace.
--from I Love A Broad Margin To My Life, by Maxine Hong Kingston
I've just finished Kingston's latest book, which is a long prose poem, not unlike Walt Whitman's Song to Myself...the occasion for her poem is the eve of her 65th birthday, and it's a riff on life with a long time love partner (Earll), a long time creative partner/alter ego (Warrior Woman, Monkey, Wittman), and a deep, deep love song to her roots, ancestors and the monolith of China, past, present and future.
It's such an fine book in so many ways: her reverence for a life of Buddhist practice, her understanding and respect for the Tao and Wu Wei, and the "red string of Chi" that binds and stretches across all time, ankle to ankle, attached to the man she leaves behind in California to travel to the original homes of her mother and father.
When you read the book, pick it up and don't put it down. Let it unwind like a breathe, for it feels as if this is how she wrote it. And then, if you like, go back and read it again, this time slowly, so that you can catch your own breathe and join her journey.
And then ask yourself, who am I but the ground on which my ancestors tread? Where do I exist in time and space, where do I begin and end, and who is the next me? What if we lived as if we were one person, one heart that seeks compassion, one mouth that needs nourishment, one mind leaning toward awakening, always leaning and nudging and gently rising into liberation.
Those urges are not an illusion. Those urges are the little crack where the light shines through.