Letters Dropped in the Street

I just discovered this, from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself (part 48):

I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
[…]
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign’d by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.

How wonderful this idea, to see ‘letters from God’ (whatever God means to you) everywhere you go –  fragments of beauty, from leaves, to trees, to faces, to clouds, and why not the wind, and scents and sounds – and we can leave them where they are and move on to the next, as the source is infinite and wherever we go with our eyes open, we’ll find more.

***

This morning was materialistically profitless in every way. Last night I watched Walk With Me again, such a marvellous film, the perfect meditation on life in Plum Village, where we spent many summer weeks over the years.

And in the calm it induced, I saw how my mind has been tripping me up with its old troublesome ticks and tricks for the past few weeks, and I know that when this happens I need a rest, that I need to reestablish some inner peace.

So I headed for wild parkland this morning, full of ‘shoulds’ and ‘ought to’s’ and thoughts of work not-done, feeling overwrought by the usual demands on myself to be living a productive life.

I found a long grove of tall pines with a thread of a path running through the middle, and decided to walk the few hundred metres back-and-forth beneath those trees until my mind found some rest.

Lucky for me, I had some help. Tiny birds high up in the trees, whistling at me. Wake Up! Listen! And I set me ears to listen keenly to the birdsong, and the sound of the wind in the branches, and the sound of my feet crunching on wood chips – all ‘letters from God’ – and I found that when my mind was full of the sounds, and only the sounds, the shoulds and ought to’s and all the other tiresome mental noise were no longer there.

This is what meditation can do for us! I’d completely forgotten. It brings us back to what is in front of us, to the reality beyond my unhelpful thoughts.

The birds, and the wind, and the sound of my feet replaced thought and all mental troubles, and although I couldn’t say at first, ‘this is happiness,’ I could say, ‘this is peace.’ Which is the kind of happiness I really seek.

So perhaps it has been the most profitable morning I’ve had for months. And now with ears and eyes open I’m heading out again, to look for ‘letters from God dropt in the street’, to love them and ‘leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go, Others will punctually come for ever and ever.’