Monday, November 29, 2010

A piece of very good karma

The point of the kind of meditation we call zazen is to recognize what's happening.  That would be now.  I think it's important to make a point of acknowledging your good karma - that which maybe you lucked into, and also that which you created.  So this leads me to a small story.

Since I got home from my transplant surgery in mid-October, I have been plagued by the bird feeder that hangs outside the front door, visible from my seat at the kitchen table. We've had a warm fall, and for a while there the birds were keeping busy with berries.  They still visited the feeder sometimes, standing on the cardinal ring at the bottom and doing their best to get the last seed out of the bottom of the tube.  But last week it got colder.  The juncos were back, too, finding seeds the chickadees kicked over onto the ground.  So I worried about filling the feeder.

Worry because at first I didn't feel I could stretch up to get the thing.  But that passed.  Then I worried because my discharge instructions are explicit about birds - if you have pet birds, get rid of them:  they carry dangerous diseases.  So I knew I would have to wear a mask and gloves to handle the feeder, and it still made me nervous.

Skip the next paragraph if you are impatient with illness.
There's always much more to any story, and this one included the fact that my energy is still limited, and now I have to do all the driving, since Tom had that unexplained fall with amnesia.  We are guessing the neurologist is worried about the possibility of seizure, but of course the whole medical profession takes off Thanksgiving week, so we couldn't get an answer to our plaintive question, which would be, Do you really mean it, I can't drive?  Then there's the whole thing of trying to keep food in the house, trying to cook something, and trying to get back into an exercise routine.  I am definitely not as well as I thought I would be after six weeks.  So suiting up to do the feeder was going to be a thing.
Okay, enough.
But the other day - maybe Saturday, a good day, I did it.  Parka, mask, nitrile gloves.  Found the seed in the garage, in a blessedly convenient bag with a spout.  Went out and did it.  And I did it because I felt for the birds - so small and fragile, their lives so perilous even in good weather.

This morning I was rewarded, and that's my point today.  I was diligently eating my yogurt etc. to buffer the mean pills I have to take punctually at 8:00 (yes, that's a complaint too) and watching a chickadee eat with more appreciation than I was evidencing, when a downy woodpecker landed on the cardinal ring.  All birds are beautiful, well, some are a stretch, but the downy has a flashy broad stripe of red on his head.  His body is an intricate black and white pattern, inspiring one to question the idea of accidental creation.  The sight of him on that feeder, poking his long, sharp beak into the feeding slot, made me gasp.

I filled that feeder, and here was my direct reward.  Seldom is good karma so obvious.  And the sun's out today, again.  Now, at least.
[image:  a tube feeder with the shelf at the bottom called a cardinal ring.]

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