Zen – my quiet practice, my holy sanctuary




The Ocean Swan


Last night I went for a walk by the sea at night. The evening was quiet and the sky deep. The sun had set and the incredible stillness of the night that we sometimes are receptive enough to receive came towards me like a blanket held by the universe and the sky, soon to turn into a river of stars.

I walked along the shore, by the married ducks that live in the seaweed, the male duck quiet and not squawking protectively, as he had done earlier in the day. Together they were settling in, alongside with all the rest of nature and the day, by now passed. Noticing my feet in boots wobbling in the sand, not quite a given to find foothold.

A good reminder.

I paused several times and gazed toward the horizon, let it come to meet me. Stopped in my tracks. Always a possibility to stop and look. Too often persuaded by the mind, “too busy”. But even just one inhale and one exhale makes a new and perhaps more honest arrival possible.

What is here right now? How am I?

Nature quietly responded with its vastness, reflecting back to me, “not much is here”, although the days have been full, the inner landscapes both erupted, flooded, discombobulated and clear.

If you want to know about vastness, go out after twilight.

No separation. And yet, here I am, walking at the shore in my particular form and bit of the universe.

I turned around and walked back. As I turned, I saw a swan in the distance, in the sea. She looked at me, and walking back, it walked with me. I marveled at its elegance, its seamless floating through the sea, legs swimming, not a movement in the surface of the water, progressing energetically and majestically. Leaving no trace.

I stopped. She stopped. And swam toward the coast and me. An ancient fear and awe of the wings of this bird, told me in my childhood, rose, but the beauty and intimacy with this bird was overwhelming. So invitational.  Held by the ocean and the sky.

I walked. I stopped. She swam. She stopped. And every time it felt like becoming more intimate. I stopped for longer. She swam toward me and came quite close. Looked at me. Stayed with me.

Then she was on her way.

Another Swan revealed the sound of swans calling upon, or perhaps just making the other aware of its presence, its existence. A completely new sound to me.

The swan that I had met floated quietly out into the horizon, the white disappearing into the dark blend of ocean and sky.

At the shore, me standing. I put a hand on my chest and bowed.