There is such a heaviness in the air right now. Layers upon layers of heaviness. The heaviness of COVID-19, systemic racism and, now, domestic terrorism. All of that on top of the occasional heaviness that sometimes just comes from being a human being.

We are taught to sort such heaviness according to time. To catalogue things according to past, present and future. And that works, to an extent. For it makes things manageable. It tricks us into believing there are answers to all of what is happening. And the illusion of making things manageable and finding answers can make us feel better. For time will, indeed, tell. And, in time, things will get better. Because time heals all wounds.

Except when it doesn’t.

Now, I believe there is a time and a place…for time.  That there is a purpose for using time, for cataloguing, for managing, for looking for answers. But I also believe there is a field, a perspective, a place that exists outside of time. 

I call that place consciousness. Some folks call it God or Goddess or Source or Great Mystery or whatever. All of them work, as far as I’m concerned for it is never about what we call things. It’s about how we experience them.

When times are tough, it is consciousness that I reach for. For it is consciousness that grounds me, nourishes me, gives me perspective and lights the path ahead. Consciousness that, as the Dalai Lama and others say, helps me find “joyful participation in the sorrows of the world.”

On one hand, it’s not hard to reach for consciousness because, unlike time, it is always there. It never runs out or slips away. On the other hand, when it feels like the walls of time are closing in, consciousness can feel so damned elusive. Which is how it’s felt off and on for the last ten days. I mean, with all that is going on in the world, in my country, in the place I used to work, who has time to reach for consciousness?

Or joy?

“When things settle down,” I’ve told myself this week. “Then I’ll go spend some time chilling out in conscious awareness.”

And that was my plan, until this morning when consciousness came into my bedroom like a gently rising tide and said, “Um, no.”

It was just a little bit after 5 a.m. I was still in bed, but drinking coffee and reading the various papers I read each day. After taking my fifth or sixth sip of coffee, I leaned over to set the cup back on the bedside table. As I did, I noticed a book of Rumi poems at the bottom of the stack of other books on my table.

“Open me,” the book said.

So, I did. I opened it to page 209 where I found a poem called “The Core.”

The poem opens talking about how we hide things in a “mist of language”, but always the “fragrance” comes through. The fragrance of consciousness. At the end of the poem, that fragrance burst forth with these words.

They helped me this morning and I share them now in case they help you:

Astrologers study the stars as they day out. Philosophers talk about “thought,” but what does that mean? Mystical

poets make metaphors. Sensualists order dessert. Bread dissolves in the 

belly. Every face lifts toward light. As minerals move in plants, and animals drink

from the wet grass, Khidr leans to the wisdom spring; another being sets down his

load lightheartedly with the Friend; life never ends. 

It doesn’t, does it? Life always is going on, when it feels heavy, when it feels light. When we call it past, when we call it present, when we call it future.

Life…never…ends.

After I read these words, I closed Rumi’s book, gave my dog an extra-long good morning hug, and picked up my coffee. I left my phone behind and all the news stories that were open on it.

And went outside.

Where the real news always is.

This-n-That is just that (and this!): A collection of words that don’t fit elsewhere, but that I still want to share.