I have been spending some time contemplating where working and mystery coalesce. Here are a few thoughts about that by way of some wise practitioners…
Shaking the Tree
Vine and branch we’re connected in this world
of sound and echo, figure and shadow, the leaves
contingent, roots pushing against earth. An apple
belongs to itself, to stem and tree, to air
that claims it, then ground. Connections
balance, each motion changes another. Precarious,
hanging together, we don’t know what our lives
support, and we touch in the least shift of breathing.
Each holy thing is borrowed. Everything depends.
Jeanne Lohmann is a Quaker poet in her 90s. Her deep respect for the mysterious parts of life is evident in this poem. But she also speaks to the fundamental nature of making art itself day in and out: “What is the spiritual practice of poetry? I think we fool ourselves with such divisions, separations. Practice is practice is practice, and requires us whole, body and breath that animates.”
“Practice is practice is practice.” Reading that line reminded me of yet another quote about the need to do the yeoman thing, this one by David Rakoff:
The only thing that makes one an artist is making art. And that requires the precise opposite of hanging out; a deeply lonely and unglamorous task of tolerating oneself long enough to push something out.
There is a tacit invitation to hold that taut point between the ineffable and the day-to-day necessity of practice, practice, practice. That pull is an ancient and essential tension, one that has been explored in every spiritual tradition both East and West. That is a pivot point many artists know about as well, one that defines their own very personal and often private wisdom path.
And yes, everything DOES depend.