Despite being sick, I spent some time updating my other blog re: the recent baking venture. Just before going to meditate, I went back to the 28 Day Challenge site to see if there were any new postings since the morning. I was pleasantly surprised by Sharon’s Week 4 post.
After reading it, I was about to turn off the computer when I glanced at my hands. I stopped to rub them as they are dry, cracked and have increasingly become wrinkled, especially due to constantly washing them before, during and after baking. With Sharon’s post in mind, I both remembered and noticed something and decided to note the following streams of thoughts before meditating:
PRE-MEDITATION: My mother passed away soon after I turned 22, and one of my clearest memories is of her hands. I remember her long fingernails, of which once I painted red. I remember those hands always holding some kind of cooking utensil, mostly over a pot of something boiling on our gas stove. I can still see her coming home from the factory, dropping her purse then dropping her hands onto the kitchen table. (She worked in a sweatshop handling large pieces of steaming hot material, eventually to be turned into tennis wear.) I also remember her hands when she was ill from cancer: nails long, uncared for, hands full of black/blues from IV needles, and the overall skin complexion was like the tips of her grey hair: milky-yellow. Even then, she had strong hands.
When our nails were long our fingers looked even longer, model like. I used to think my hands looked like my mother’s, a thought I actually enjoyed at times. Other times it meant, if my hands looked like hers then I was like her. That did not sit well in my stomach. Thinking about intention made me realize my mother’s hands were unhappy, violent; they endured a brutal work life and existence. They often shook from tremors. Many times I saw them desperately grasping for happiness.
Though my hands also shake due to the fallout of many things, they are overall happy today. Their increasing wrinkles are a manifestation of things I love to do. Thinking about intention has made me realize that the further I try to remove myself from her hands, the more I actually find them in mine. We are not the same in many ways, and yet meditation has pointed out the commonalities in our hands and certainly lives. There is no use in ignoring it – it is necessary for me to see how I create, categorize and put limitations not only on her, but myself.
Training in lovingkindness and paying attention is the path I take to understand, to the best of my ability without judgment, complex relationships and the imprints (maps) they (I) create: like the veins in our hands. Good or bad, we needed each other.
POST-MEDITATION: I was surprised by how long my meditation session turned out to be: 40 minutes. Sitting on my cushion I found myself being pulled by the earth. I moved to the floor, onto my back: it felt right. The earth held me up as I felt my breath…in…out…through my nose. I imagined butterfly wings gently sliding through my mouth: beautiful in a grotesque sort of way. In meditation I remembered how my mother, with an unhappy stare, used to tell me I had my father’s hands. A fact she said was true when my nails were short. I lost my father when I was 2 years old and do not have a clear recollection of him, except for a pair of very large hands once holding me. Breathing as evenly as possible, still feeling the strength of the earth on my back, I’m reminded how little I really know of them. No clear familial maps have been found, and some cannot be deciphered. Yet these people are part of my fabric. The task of finding who I am has been life-long. But perhaps I’ve been going at it the “wrong way”. Perhaps intention is an opportunity to see myself (and them) (and everyone) in other ways. A tear ran down the side of my face, my face, past microscopic hairs, trying to pool itself into my ear: I catch it. I know it is the head-cold running its course. My body feels heavy, my hands feel larger. The sun still shining, I hear the post-man open our mailbox. Somehow everything felt right, because everything just is.
Final Note: Last night before falling asleep I read the following poem by Rilkie, it comes to mind again:
As if he were listening: stillness, distance. We hold our breath and cease to hear it. He is like a star surrounded by other stars we cannot see.
He is all things. Do we really expect him to notice us? What need could he have? If we prostrated ourselves at his feet, he would remain deep and calm like a cat.
For what threw us down before him has circled in him for millions of years. He, who has gone beyond all we can know and knows what we never will.