Friday, March 1, 2013

Tonglen of a Jewish Mother...Again and Again, Tonglen.

"But the man who had found could approve of every single teaching, every way, every goal; nothing separated him any longer from all the thousand others who lived in the eternal, who breathed the divine."~Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha

I always return to Michelangelo's Pieta. So exquisite in its falling grace, the near collapse of beauty into grief...but it holds. Just. Sustained by the perfection of intent. By the acknowledgment of ancient surrender manifest in the present moment...where all the things they ever agreed to culminate in this: the death of the body. Gratitude for thirty-three years together in flesh and bone--mother and son walking the earth and whole. Whole.

Her left hand falls open--languishing gesture of receiving even this: what aches, what saves. Her child, her love, draped across her own body like a pale garment. Her head is bowed just slightly, eyelids flagging--half mast in her languor. Oh. It aches. It drains. It is what she said yes to. And she would say yes again and again for the time that she had, the time that he belonged to her and to this earth.

Baby boy grown into this: gentlest of men, compassionate lamb. Her eyes scan his body, pause at the light beard, the girth of the ribcage, line of hair below the navel. When? When did he become this? When did he shift from the infant gumming a crust of bread to man, generous with his whole life and willing, willing to give it away. To leave this fragile shell to fall away from her like a veil unraveling.

Her right hand, the giving hand, still clasps his body beneath his arm, striving toward the heart, but her own heart spills open there beneath her gathering garments. Even now, she knows to breathe her grief and to send away from her not bitterness but love. Exhalation of gratitude and light. Tonglen of a Jewish mother. Again and again, tonglen.