Be like grass. Or like water. Or both.

Note: While I’m working on getting out the long-awaited Episode 18, I thought it worthwhile to adapt certain portions of Episode 17’s liturgy into post format, for your enjoyment. If you wish to listen to the entire liturgy (which I recommend), you can find it here on SoundCloud or search Wizard of Monadnock on any podcast app.

The I Ching speaks of a new blade of grass sprouting from its seed, still underground but creeping with the delight of new life toward the surface. Like all new life, however, the blade of grass discovers that there is more to existence than effortless delight when it runs into a blocker. It seeks a direct path to burst forth in the fresh oxygen and direct blessing of sunlight, but an obstacle is in the way.

The grass, for all we know, may be inclined to curse the obstacle and believe it to be an active antagonist or even an enemy. In all likelihood, of course, we know from our perspective that the obstacle is most likely a rock or something that just happens to already BE there and really has no ill will toward a blade of grass it wasn’t expecting and that wasn’t there a moment ago.

It doesn’t much matter whether the obstacle is a malevolent actor or an accidental circumstance. The blade of grass does nothing for itself by spending much time trying to figure that out – either way, the grass needs to break through the surface. The grass isn’t a tree. It doesn’t have decades to work on the problem, so destroying the obstacle is not really on the table. The blade is left with but one option – to find the way around the obstacle and up to the surface. The way might be long and difficult and inconvenient. Perhaps it only seems so and will later prove a minor detour requiring a short delay, but the blade of grass can only find out, and ultimately escape the ground and fulfill its destiny, by beginning that search for the way around, and then slowly taking it.

Recklessly switching metaphors, this notion is hardly different than the difficulties inherent to the birthing process. When we know we are compelled toward new life, we must not be shy about facing and enduring the brief difficulties that lie between where we are and where we are destined to be. And if we know we’re doing this because the promised land (third metaphor!) is just around the bend, we need not find ourselves miserable in the process, as we live it out. It’s not so bad.

The promised land, it should be said, may indeed be around the corner. “If you walk together, little children…”

The second image/lesson I want to share, also from the I Ching, is the water of a flowing river and how it approaches obstacles and rough terrain. This is even simpler than the grass – the water just flows on. It doesn’t hesitate or fret or question the path ahead or seek to skip anything seen to be unpleasant or undesirable.

It flows on.

It fills the gap in front of it, whatever it is, until it is full, and then it fills the next one, all the way, no shortcuts, no skipped steps, just one gap after another, flowing on and on. The flowing water, of course, is unstoppable; unlike the blade of grass, the flowing water in filling the gaps and moving on will eventually demolish anything so foolish as to stubbornly place itself in the water’s path. As the water continues on and endures, so can we, so must we, so will we.

When faced with overwhelming difficulties and daunted by the chaos and the sorrow and the sudden disaster, remember that there is but a single gap in front of us and we need to fill it and then flow to the gap in front of that one. One gap at a time, we will flow unimpeded to our destiny. And when we can feel shoots of new growth taking shape in our lives, we should expect them to encounter blockers, and we shouldn’t bother getting worked up or pissed off about this. Keep calm and find the way around. The sunshine awaits us.

 

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