There's a woman who passes by me every day at the dog park. She's elderly but that's all I know about her. I don't know her name. Let's call her Mouna for the sake of the story. We've only spoken to each other twice over the past 2 years, plus she doesn't have a dog so really there's no basis for any sort of relationship other than we pass each other on the same path every morning. I guess you could say our relationship status is..complicated.
It's been going on for the past 2 years. We pass each other on the trail without so much as a nod. It's not that I haven't tried. In the beginning, I tried breaking the ice but she made a point of refusing to acknowledge me. Most people will respond to greetings with at least a smile or kind word, but not this woman. She just keeps moving as if I'm not there. I judged her. I thought, what's wrong with this lady? So we went on building a relationship without words. Have you ever had kind of relationship?
Maybe with a husband?
Maybe a wife?
Maybe a partner?
Maybe with a neighbors cat that sits in the window to make eye contact with you for 26 seconds while you walk by every day?
Maybe with a tree that calls out in a majestic voice announcing her presence on somebody's lawn?
When you stop relying on words its like roots reaching out seeking water. Silence between strangers becomes like fingers stretching towards each other in any language they can. The need between living things to connect with each other insist on so many pathways, those fingers will do anything to find a way to touch. Even if its imaginary. Even if its silence.
As the months (and now years) flew by our relationship went through the usual roller coaster of transformations. At first I resisted her unwillingness to open the gates to let me in. My resistance to her drew the curtains closed and called in darkness. Soon after I found peace by letting her be whoever she is without putting my nonsense about needing her to behave in any way around me. After all, its a free park in a free world and even if it weren't, she's a walking sanctuary of freedom inside her own walls. I thought, maybe she's in mourning. Maybe she doesn't speak English. Maybe she's social awkward. Maybe she's afraid. Whatever it is, my desires to connect have nothing to do with her. In time, the energetic charge I used to feel when passing her melted in the heat of allowance. That was a turning point in our relationship. It's amazing how much relationships grow when you relax the grip on how the other should behave and allow space for them to be who they are.
Then one day she did something unusual. She sat down on a bench near where (my pup) Jon Snow was romping around in the grass. If you sit down anywhere within a 50 yard radius of Jon Snow, that's an invitation for him to bounce up and greet you. If you're lucky, he might only rub his nose on your head but most likely though he's going to try and jump up and kiss you. He may climb in your lap and begin licking your face, ears and neck. Even if you're the Frost Giant you have no chance with Jon Snow. He will turn you into melting snow. As I watched Jon Snow melt the stoicism from the woman, or perhaps the fog from my eyes, I saw her smile for the first time. She made some comment about how happy & playful he is, and we exchanged a different kind of energy. That honeymoon lasted about a minute before she said, "OK, I'm going back to silence now." Maybe it was my expression, or maybe it was just her roots reaching towards mine, but then she added, "I like to spend a certain amount of time in total silence each day." She smiled a very real and soothing smile. I think that's when our relationship really took off. Now I'm in love.
As she walked away it occurred to me that this woman is a doorway to many doorways for me. Each time I got out of my own way I got to see her clearly. All this time I'd created an imaginary story about her that had nothing to do with reality, and a relationship grew around that myth. When's the last time you did something like that? ;-)
The whole time she was practicing mouna, the ancient practice of silence.
That lead me to another doorway. Open this door and wonder who else is engaged in a sacred practice? What about the guy washing his car on the corner? What about the lady sitting outside chain-smoking? What about the maintenance man in my complex working on a new bathroom fixture? Or the new mother downstairs carrying her baby to the store?
What if all these people - consciously or not - are walking manifestations of a sacred practice that is their very becoming?
What if all my judgements about how they should be were to melt away?
What if my Gregness was the ice that needed thawing in order to unlock the next door?
What if that's the doorway to heaven?
What if my sacred practice is simply to melt?
Jon Snow. <3
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