Silence is a must during practices of ikebana. It is a time to appreciate things in nature that people often overlook because of their busy lives. One becomes more patient and tolerant of differences, not only in nature, but also in general. Ikebana can inspire one to identify with beauty in all art forms.For many years, I meditated on a daily basis, and I've tried to pick it up again and again, but it doesn't seem to be happening. I've got a nice place for it, and I look at the spot and try not to feel guilty about not using it more often. I do still spend time every day contemplating life in general, usually at this time, early in the morning before dawn, when the world is quiet and my mind is, too. As the day goes on and I get involved in activities, I get caught up in the day-to-dayness of life. I think it's important to take some time every day to look at the larger picture of our lives.
I just finished a very good book yesterday, Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth. I saw the BBC series and loved it, and I have to say that the book is even better. Many things that were dramatized for the series are better explained, and I also discovered that it is the first book in a trilogy of stories about her memoirs of being a midwife in London's East End during the 1950s. I look forward to reading the others; the second season of the BBC series will be coming to my local PBS station soon. I hope you will look up the first season if you can, to introduce yourselves to the characters.
Many years ago, I read another book that impacted me strongly, How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. Written in 1939 about a Welch family, I remember being struck by the opening passages, written through the eyes of an old man who had decided to leave the valley after so many of his loved ones had passed away. What I remember thinking at the time was how sad it is to be the last surviving member of a close-knit family. I was a young woman then, who had experienced no losses of my own. Now that so many of my loved ones have gone, that recollection of the opening passages of that book is felt even more keenly. How did I know that in my early twenties? I should re-read that book, I guess, but I've found that the experience will be totally new, and I am reluctant to disturb those strong memories.
Today my friend Judy and I will see a documentary entitled 56 Up, which is a chronicle of the lives of fourteen Britons who have been followed for 49 years, since 1964. Every seven years, director Michael Apted interviews them and adds to their stories and issues a new documentary. The initial premise behind the series was to see whether a person's socioeconomic class determines one's livelihood in the future. Judy and I saw the trailer for this documentary at our local independent theater and decided we just had to see this one. I found this very interesting review from the New York Times while looking for more information about it. I learned that three close friends from London's East End are in it, and I couldn't help but wonder if they might have been delivered into this world by the midwives from Jennifer Worth's book.
The days are getting noticeably longer now, and we are gaining three-and-a-half minutes every day. Soon now I'll be waking to the sound of birds singing and seeing light in the sky at this time. It's still dark out at the moment, a little after 6:00am in the morning. The magic of this time of the day will not disappear with the light, but if I choose to go outside and walk in the early dawn, I will be able to do so.
I am learning that the art of contemplation does not need any particular venue, but it's the state of mind that is the key. Even writing on my keyboard in the dark, with tea and sleeping partner beside me does not disturb the contemplative moment. After having written this, I think it has left me with a most wonderful and satisfying consciousness. I am content, and the completion of my task on this nascent Sunday morning leaves me feeling fulfilled and happy.