A hand reaches in to stoke the fire. Fine flakes of ash now spring into the air and hang suspended like twinkle lights before riding the downdrafts, swirling and dancing like tiny snowflakes being kissed from the sky. The billows of smoke thin, as the hard wood takes light, and the stillness of night is pierced with the cracks and pops of a once-living being, now surrendering noisily unto a greater power. This fire, once as reluctant to ignite as a tomboy to dance, is now as hungry and eager to consume as a bear after a long winter's nap.
So like me, I think. Most days, my biggest challenge is getting my mind out of bed. My soul's first and foremost intention of the day is to devote the first stirrings of the day to quiet and peaceful meditation. Not ready to engage in the activity of the day before aligning with all that is Peace and Love, my Soul urges me to get up, light some incense and sit in quiet contemplation.
My mind, however, wakes up revving with all the fervor of a racehorse after a good night's rest, the thrill of being alive coursing through its veins, the unabashed desire for the thrill of the run firing its naked need to feel every muscle and sinew working in perfect harmony to Be. The. Run. My Soul's longing for Stillness is quiet, virtually impossible to hear over the bugle fanfare that calls racehorse mind to post, chomping at the bit to do what it has trained its entire life to do.
I contemplate the irony that it is my Soul's thirst for stillness that urges me out of bed, while it is the eager insistence of my mind to race through the paces of the day, to anticipate the curves of the track and to brace for the perceived pitfalls of the course that keeps me in bed. "If you want Stillness," my mind reasons, "you can lay right here and have it."
Soul is not fooled. It knows well the cunning of my mind and its habit of employing trickery to get its own way. Lying in bed is where racehorse mind does its best work, whether it be at 3:00 am or at the start of a new day. This is where it enjoys a home field advantage.
I lure my mind into the kitchen where I promise to scan my phone for messages, an activity that both pleases and occupies it. Seeing nothing urgent, I silently, without any bugle fanfare or PA announcement, slip into my meditation room where Soul enjoys its home field advantage. My mind makes one last appeal for control, as it examines the clock and sets a time for departure. And then the racehorse settles back into its stall for a nap as my Soul has its way with the Divine.
Day after day, this is how it goes, appeasing two toddlers, both demanding to be heard and to be validated. Whereas once I tore out my hair trying to keep them in check, to keep them from scratching and clawing each other, now I'm learning to allow them each their time and to aknowledge each their contributions. And still, the conversation begins anew every day when I wake up.