via Wikimedia Commons
Even if you always try to get a good night’s sleep, sometimes you won’t. Even though you might do your best to eat healthy food, sometimes your body will insist on lighthouse flashes of pain.
The house will get dirty even though you keep cleaning it. And the skewed priorities of others will irritate you, and you’ll feel pressure for accomplishment even though you’ve worked hard, and you’ll struggle to maintain your spiritual connections even if you haven’t lapsed in your prayers and meditations.
That’s all okay. Take a deep breath, and reach for the next dirty dish.
Because it’s important that you try to get a good night’s sleep, but it’s not important whether you actually do. And although pain is unpleasant, it is not something to avoid any more than pleasure is something to run after. Tidiness, compassion for those lost in the darkness, mastery of the endless mundane chores and errands, and enlightenment are just ideals – not requirements, not necessities. And, in fact, success in any of these endeavors is just as much a barrier as is defeat. The virtue is in steadfast effort, in finding happiness in the washing of a single dish. You are neither worse nor better after all the dishes are clean.
If you can be wholly present and happy as you wash a dirty dish, you have found the door.
It’s the work and the positive intention that’s holy. Your efforts at healing yourself and others are the practice. Your role as a light-worker, bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to this place, is the course. Each time you forget, remember – this is constancy. Each time you lose yourself into the future or the past, come back into the present moment – this is mindfulness. Each time you feel rejected and alone, return again the embrace of the divine – this is faith. There is no sin in forgetting, losing yourself, or feeling abandoned – these are the conditions under which the light can bloom.
When you work with constancy, mindfulness, and faith – you do not work at all. For then there is no you, there is no dish, and there is no work – there is only gentle attention and kindness.
The state of affairs is irrelevant. We each gather up collections of dust and illusion, then crack them open as we’re reborn like a bird from an egg. And each time the little collection shatters and dissolves, the revealed self is a little more luminescent, a little more polished. As a rock is tumbled by the tides, as a species is cultivated by the environment, so are you in your life lessons. As butter is in milk, as liquidity is in water, so is the Kingdom in you.
The dirty dishes, if you can truly wash a dish, will make your soul worthy to be another aspect of God.
You will one day, in this life or another, bring the Kingdom of Heaven forth. It will issue forth like a new dawn, like a resurrected phoenix, and a new avatar will cascade the eternal love through humanity. Then, as it was in the beginning, the Children of God will again reunite as the single Child of God.
Don’t rush, you have all the time in the world. Just take another deep breath and reach for another dirty dish.