The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Friday, June 28, 2013

Our backyard Buddha sits nestled among ferns, beneath the gentle canopy of a Service Berry tree.  It's not a monumental tree, nor does it have visions of grandeur, yet it's 10 year old presence is as intrepid and protective as the massive Hackberry trees that surround it. 
The pale, smooth, grey bark invites the hand and the trees branches are easily visible, providing the eyes with interesting shapes and textures.

 We have two Service Berry trees, of different types, but this is the tree that captures my heart in every season; in Spring, it is the first tree in the garden to flower, with pristine white 5 petaled clusters at the end of pale green-grey branches. Even though the flowers are almost weightless, we can sense the bending of laden branches that tend toward balance. 
The odor of the flowers is subtle, but attracts bees, moths and butterflies.


By late May and early June, each flower has died back, but in the withering, has produced a berry.  Last summer, we hardly had any berries at all, and worried through the Fall and Winter that the tree was feeling poorly.  
This summer however has brought an abundance of berries. We watched excitedly all spring, since we knew it meant we would have backyard birds galore!  
Service Berries are as sweet as candy, and rarely fully ripen before being nabbed by Robins, Cardinals, Cat Birds, even tiny Wrens, who can barely swallow the prize.

The Cat Birds are by far the most fun to watch as they grab a berry in flight, twisting and turning, entering the branches silently, then exiting in a burst, berry in beak.  
Playing, the Cat Bird revels in the stealth challenge!
When acrobatics aren't necessary, the Cat Bird saunters out to the very edge of a pliant branch as if walking out to the edge of a very bouncy diving board, bending the branch so that the bird is almost in a nose-dive.  
Unconcerned, she takes the berry and springs off, vaulting into the air to find purchase on a higher branch, where she mews happily.  A bit of a show-off, she's proud.

This morning, while walking meditation, some sort of floating, whirring, pale green bug came down from the tree. I bent to look, and saw 6 legs moving tenderly across the broad Hosta leaf it had landed upon, feeling its way with such equipoise and care, I was enchanted.  
The body was practically transparent and afforded a new and muted view of the leaf beneath, as if looking at a familiar object through water, yet the familiar object, along with the insect, were completely un-namable. 
In fact, in 59 years of living and looking at insects from one perspective or another, this was a creature I had never seen before.  
I wondered how, in such a seemingly turbulent world, could such an ephemeral being exist?  
When had it come into being, and when would it cease existing?  What was its purpose in the natural world?  Who or what would it love, since it suddenly dawned on me that love was its very reason for walking its own meditation.

And yet, in the world of the Service Berry tree, the insect, the moment, was nothing but what it always is.  I had simply never noticed. 

Eventually, the insect took wing, unhurried, a little ungainly in its ancient shape, with wings that were practically invisible, but wings none the less, providing a means to fly into a new morning!

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