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Dudley’s writing group met at Aingeal and Ahonu’s – The prompt: 40 minutes.
“One way or another that gives poetry its musical qualities.”

It was a stormy morning here in Bend, Oregon. Most of the snow had melted away that was exposed in our open fields, but where the snow plows had shoved it, along the sides of the roads, there were still four-foot-high berms. I had driven to the Unitarian Church an hour early planning to attend a pre-church meditation group, but during the drive over it started snowing again and snowing heavily by the time I arrived for the meditation. By the time I parked, the snow was covering the ground an inch deep and accumulating fast.

The regular services weren’t scheduled to begin for an hour, so rather than go to the quiet fireside room and meditate I decided to shovel snow to clear the paths for the oncoming congregation. I had done this simple work several times at various places this week of record snowfall with the intent of developing more mature habits. My previously posted idea is that when one is feeling good and has some psychic energy they should look around and intentionally choose to do the most mature thing available at the time, that needs doing.

Shoveling snow may not sound like a mature activity, after all a child can do it, but when one of the great sages of ancient times was asked what he did now that he had achieved enlightenment, he replied, “I chop wood, and carry water.” His disciple asked him how that differed from before he became enlightened? How did it differ from when he was a youth being forced by his parents to chop wood and carry water?

“It’s no different. No different in the physical activity. The difference is in the mental and spiritual activity. As a child I felt rebellious and angry at having to do such stupid things as chop wood and carry water, but now, as what you call an enlightened sage, I feel a satisfying rush that permeates my whole being for the opportunity to be of service to my fellow human beings and to my animal friends and to my plant friends, too.”

Some lyrically inclined people would call this attitude toward those simple acts a form of poetry. It gives structure to an otherwise dumb physical reality. It gives meaning to the results that come from the uses of the water and from the uses of the chopped wood. This attitude generates the most beautiful music that exists in our world.

These simple physical acts that seem so lacking in spiritual meaning ultimately give everything the essentials of life and permit living beings – people, animals, and plants too – to thrive. What could be more poetic? What could be more musical? The rhythmic sound of chopping wood is poetry and it’s the finest music that can be made because it is the sound of life being brought into a higher state of being.

Chop, chop — carry, carry — shovel, shovel, shovel.