During this week of study leave, my “serious” reading has been Richard Rohr’s “The Universal Christ”. Each day I employed the discipline of taking notes from the chapter I read, and distilling them into a blog post, with the hope of integrating Rohr’s ideas into my conscious thinking, and way of seeing the world.
My more personal “reading” has actually been listening to Natalie Goldberg read a commemorative edition of her book “Writing Down the Bones”, which is about a Zen approach to writing. I love that at the end of each chapter, she sets down the script, and talks about how it felt to read that section.
One of the themes running through Goldberg’s work seems to be “noticing” the small details of moments, and writing them down, to bring exactness, precision, and life to your writing. I think this gentle encouragement to notice grows organically out of her Zen practice. Be mindful. Pay attention. Be where you are, and see what there is to see, right where you happen to be.
Goldberg’s theme is not a great departure from what Rohr writes of in The Universal Christ. He sees, and loves, the presence of the divine imbued in all things, in every aspect of Creation.
I like to listen to audio books while I do chores. This may be something like the opposite of living in the moment. Even so, it fed my soul to have Natalie Goldberg’s voice in my ears this afternoon while I did yardwork.
One of my tasks was repairing the downspout fed by the eavestrough on the back of our house. It is the only one that does not feed into the town sewer, and when it rains, water pools next to our foundation, and finds its way into our basement laundry room.
When I lifted the vinyl splash block that guides the flow of water out of the downspout, I noticed a little brown toad. The toad’s colouring provided such camouflage, I wonder if this species has the chameleon-like capacity to shift its appearance. Because I was using my phone to listen to Natalie Goldberg’s book, I was able to take a photo before the toad scampered away, and disappeared under some brush.