I went for a long bike ride in the countryside yesterday and I marvelled at how nature had changed since my last ride in that area. There were unmistakable signs of autumn everywhere. The summer just flew by!
There were acres after acres of corn - yellowing stalks of corn standing proud in the field, swaying gently in the wind. This scene reminded me of a corn feast I had a few weeks ago. I was at the local grocery store picking up some food for supper in a small town to the west of Ottawa when a farmer drove up to the front of the store with a truck full of freshly picked Peaches and Cream corn. They were a real bargain, eight ears of corn for $1.99. I just had to pick some up.
That night we ate our meal outside (the last picnic of the summer). Was it a combination of the beautiful scenery as the sun set over the lake, the good company, or the hearty appetite after an active day spent playing outside that made the meal so tasty? The corn was so good: crisp, juicy and sweet.The children slathered the corn with gobs of butter and ate with gusto. In my opinion, corn is one of the true joys of late summer days.
If you look at nature with a child's eyes, it is a world of wonder. Like corn. Perfect rows of creamy ivory and bright yellow kernels promising a tasty treat. A small treasure revealed underneath a husk.
Come to think of it, there are many things in nature that offer real delights under ordinary and banal exteriors. A deep red rose sprouting from a tiny non-descript seed. A baby bird emerging from a fragile shell. A pearl born from a grain of sand in an oyster shell.
What is the message? "Do not judge a book by its cover" as the saying goes. Be willing to seek for treasures lying deep inside ordinary exteriors?
This reminds me of a story that my friend Janice Parviainen included in her book Courage to Love Yourself.
In 1957, a group of Tibetan monks were informed that a highway was being built and the highway would have to go through the location where the shrine for which they were responsible was currently located. A huge clay Buddha, would have to be moved.
On the day of the move, a crane began lifting the clay Buddha. The Buddha, as it rose off of its block resting place, began to crack. It was far heavier than all the engineers had estimated. A storm was brewing so the work had to be interrupted until the next day. The statue was covered up with tarp to protect it from the elements.
During the night, the head monk awoke and decided to check on the Buddha. With a flashlight, the monk carefully checked the condition of the Buddha. As he walked around the huge clay figure shining his light on the cracks, something caught his eye. He returned to the spot on which he had just shined his light. He peered into the crack. What he saw he did not understand. He needed to see more. He went back to his quarters, found a chisel and a hammer and returned to the Buddha. He began carefully chipping at the clay around the crack. As the crack widened, he could not believe his eyes. He ran to wake the other monks and instructed each to bring a hammer and chisel.
By lantern light the monks carefully chipped all the clay from the Buddha. After hours of chiselling, the monks stepped back and stared in awe at the sight before them. There, in front of the monks, stood a solid gold Buddha. When the moving crew arrived later that morning to complete the job of moving the Buddha to its new location, there was much confusion and excitement. Where had the clay Buddha gone? From where had the Golden Buddha come?
After much research, the pieces of the story were put together. The Golden Buddha was the cherished responsibility of a group of monks several centuries earlier. These monks received word that the Burmese army was headed their way. Concerned that the invading army would loot the shrine for its Golden Buddha, the monks covered their Buddha with 8 to 12 inches of clay. When they were finished the Golden Buddha appeared to be a Buddha of clay. The invading army would surely have no interest. The monks were correct. The invading army had no interest in the Buddha. They did, however, kill all the monks before they moved on. The Golden Buddha was lost in history until 1957.
There is a Golden Buddha inside each of us. Hidden away and covered with layers and layers of clay. We start out life as a true Golden Buddha. Then life pulls us away from our true self. In an effort to fit in we start hiding our authentic self for of fear not being enough, for shame of how we might be perceived or for a misplaced desire to please.
Life's trials and tribulations compel us to superimpose layers of mud onto or inner brilliance to protect ourselves from further hurt and disappointment. We get busy creating the face we want to present to the world, smoothing the clay here, enhancing the covering there. Pretty soon we get so comfortable under those layers of mud that we lose sight of our true drive. We cannot acknowledge our golden core. And because everyone else walks around covered with mud we also forget to look beneath the muddy casing for the gifts that others might have to offer.
This is your chance to shine a flashlight onto your inner core, your authentic self. What could shine brilliantly if you aimed a light at it? If you allowed it to see the light of day? What gifts are you hiding from others...yourself even?
What are the difficult life experiences that became layers of mud onto your inner core? Name them. Those experiences belong to the past. You are no longer the person of yesterday. You are the you of the "Now", this present moment. Much wiser and much stronger for having lived through those experiences. In this moment, you can choose to keep the painful memories alive or let them go. Let the pain vanish with the memory. Uncover your golden Buddha by chiselling away the ancient mud, one sorrowful memory at a time.
Revel in your untapped potential. Resolve to present your true self to the world. Be bold. Present your glorious golden face to the world. We will all reap the rewards.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.