Wait, what? An old insight beckons me to practice

Wait, what? I actually had that experience? That insight?

Paging through  my old journals turns out to be an archeological dig that yields an occasional gem of insight, but one that has remained uncut, untumbled, unpolished: unintegrated.

Recently I unearthed this entry, penned more than seven years ago.

There are times I want to just weep and it’s not “about” anything. My mind goes looking for a “reason” for grief or sorrow, and sometimes finds one, but that is a kind of after-the-fact approach, and not particularly fruitful.

What turns out to be fruitful is letting my impulse to weep become vivid. Then I notice that my my feeling has a gravity to it, a sinking quality that takes me deep into a well. There I encounter what I am starting to call – and not with a lot of confidence, but starting to call: joy. An awareness comes of something light, a taking flight, and the weeping-feeling and “joy” are intimate, they are married. Their joining has something to do with the beauty, preciousness of life, and that beauty and preciousness has something to do with its fleeting nature, with mortality.

This is quite a revelation to me. Joy has been a mystery, an unattainable goal, a hunh?, a head scratcher.

During the cycle of the Jewish High Holy Days, that runs for a 62 day cycle in the late summer to early fall I can intelligently if not comfortably make my way through introspection, remorse, taking actions that repair relationships, awe, holiness, the language of error and judgment: but the holidays that close the season, that are presumably shot through with “joy”? I’ve approached this part of the cycle with a sense of isolation, disappointment, mystification.

So it is no small thing for me to arrive at a growing edge where grief and joy of this subtlety are companions and teachers. The effects are like having felt oxygen-deprived for years…and then breathing in ocean and mountain air together, over and over again.

That’s what I call a rock of a moment: untumbled, unpolished, unintegrated –  an opportunity not yet lost, because it beckons me back to practice.

Recently I’ve had a lot of must-weep moments, along with a heightened sense of my mortality, and have reached for my  wonderful herbal friend Pulsatilla (common name, Windflower.)

There is no better first-aid than a few drops when ready to dissolve into tears, looking into the dark side of life.

And I can testify that these recent must-weep moments have no companion,  nothing I would even consider venturing to call “joy.”

So now, along with taking the help of my herbal friend, I also have to make time to sit.  

To follow the wisdom of this old insight: let weepiness become vivid, cut, tumble, polish me.

Allow insight to teach me, heal me, awaken me anew.

And I must be willing to sit without hope of recreating that delicious marriage of weeping and nascent joy, to sit without hope even of integration. That’s the nature of practice.

Nothing is as you left it? You’re walking into walls?

Ever wondered why you go through periods of feeling disoriented and clumsy? As far as you know, you have never been visited by leprechauns, but nothing is quite as you left it. Maybe you notice that you’re walking into walls. Dropping things. Reaching for a fork and instead picking up the spoon that sits right next to it.

A life transition – even diving deep into inner work on a retreat – can shake me up. Raise better questions than I’ve become accustomed to asking. Disturb the location of my beliefs and prejudices. Bring forward what has been lurking in the background.

Integrating new understandings is a physical as well as  a mental process.

It can take my body some time to catch up with this beneficial mischief.



by Sara Eisenberg


I could say “Elves,” but it’s not elves exactly,

who stole into my house late Tuesday night

to make mercurial mischief of walls and many sticks

of furniture.

Nothing is quite where I left it. As I left it.

Certitudes, laws of physics, mirrors.

I knock the orange ceramic bowl up against the blue one,

shattering its edge: the space between hand and bowls and counter has shifted a little to

the right or left.

I pick up the glass of iced tea at lunch and generously spill it over onto my blue jeans.

My shoulder and hip bump into a wall that now extends where the kitchen door on its hinges stood yesterday.

Basic math is unbruised, long division still works.

But nouns and verbs, cause and effect have gone all wavy, bobbing along and trading seats.

Assumptions, beliefs, conclusions, doubts, all


You see how things are mis-placed, the rabbits are all out of hiding?

My clumsiness, isn’t it where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Rather, say what’s left of the original owner has been given safe passage

while my entire interior fields are ploughed under.