I found out that standing in line at the Post Office is a great place to practice my practice. A few weeks ago, I got into an old favorite practice of mine...as I shall now recount to you....
...the vastness of such incompetency blows my mind... these poor customers waiting for the two bored and uncaring postal employees who were taking their good old time and had not the slightest interest that the line of folks staring at them was about 15 people long. Their attitude of “we’re going to take our good old time” laid heavily in the air. This Indian woman and her two childish sons were hogging the desk for the entire 20 minutes that I was standing in this motionless line. Her children were playing “as if they were on a playground” and their achingly loud voices echoed in the swollen silence of the stiff space around me. Of course, the mother was chatting away with the postal guy and didn’t even hear them. Every now and then, she’d glance their way, like, “oh, I have these two boys who are behind me and they are still there...”. The gentleman behind me was practicing “patience is a virtue”, he claimed. No one else seemed to care that these postal employees, eyes facing down, were oblivious to the folks in the line and that the ”head honcho” was idling in the back somewhere, probably munching from that box of ‘stale by now’ broken-off pieces of donuts from morning, along with about 10 other employees that were drunk with the same lackadaisical attitude. This soup of details was swarming around in my head like a bunch of mad bees that just got evicted from their hive.
In the not so distant past, I would have taken up the martyr role as easily as scooping up a free sample of cookies at the grocery store. I would have maybe gone up to the desk and pleasantly (fake smile) asked if there was anyone who could work the empty windows since, glancing pointedly with my eyes, there was “quite a line here for the last 20 minutes”....I would have thought about it before I did it, and how there wasn’t anyone else for the job, and it would have to be me, or I’d be stuck there with these weird Indian or “something” kids all day. Of course, I’d been nursing this and this is just one example...of my personality in action.
That was then.
I sighed to myself. I thought, wait a minute! I could practice here! So, I took the whole scene in with all it’s idiosyncrasies. The sounds of the kid's screeching and echoing voices, the buzz of the florescent lights, the vacant desk windows, the stale donuts, the bees..and I extended and saw this scene before me just manifesting as time in space.. Everything was moving or not moving, people’s mouths were moving or not moving, everything s-l-o-w-e-d down so that I could really see what was right in front of me. The judgements went. The scene took on a hue of radiant reflections in time. It became the Post Office and people just mailing stuff! I saw the light glistening in the kid’s eyes...the love they had for each other in their shoving and chasing, their mother’s delight in being a mom, the post office people just doing their jobs, and smiling! To my surprise and relief, my mind became still. I SAW time in timelessness and as I extended into the space around me, my heart took it’s rightful place. I saw things as they really were...and it was just beautiful. So simple and simply divine. I felt an ethereal presence within and beyond myself, in an eternal and infinitely luminous and lovely sphere of purity and beingness. I was in bliss...and felt great. Yes, then the line moved, and I, along with it.
The important thing for me was that this wasn’t a “self-improvement” trip or exercise I was trying to “accomplish”. It was a practice with no goal and my intention, I guess, was to just change the direction my mind had taken me and end the “self-suffering”. First, I suspended my mind. Then I extended into the space around me. That was the simple practice. The transformation occurred within me through the generosity of grace. And, my understanding took the shape of this scene in time, colored and carried by the light of love.
Written by Karen Ferguson