Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The sweet spot

Our neighbor down the street, gave me a tour of the house he’s building. The woman architect they engaged from Tepic arranged the house on the lot so that every window frames a spectacular view. The island in our bay sits dead center in their wake-up view and over their kitchen sink. Less distracting is the view of tile roofs and mountains from the study. But the view I love most, the one that greets me each dawn from our own bedroom, verandah, and from our rooftop terrace in back, is the one he’s reserved for a special place in their home. Sunrise over the mountains.

“This is the meditation room,” he told me, “a place to have a cup of coffee and read from the good book in the morning.” “You do that, too?” I asked. “Every chance I get,” he nods.

He’s an airline pilot. I do like pilots who pray.

“Here’s the heart of the watermelon,” I found myself saying. It’s a phrase that’s been running through my head for years. For me it’s a mental place, but often I see it physically, usually where someone has provided a spot for meditation, worship, or contemplation. It’s a place reserved from seedy distractions, the best place to be, the sweet spot where the notes are clear and static-free. And because, contrary to what some people might say, I DO know one end of a tennis racquet from the other, I know that the “sweet spot” is where you want to hit the ball from. That’s the spot that gives the best response.

Responding. Giving back. Engaging. I’ve never been comfortable with that image of going off somewhere to “leave it all behind” and live a “spiritual life” away from everyone else in the world. God knows (and I mean that literally) we all need our alone times. There’s not a spiritual leader of any stripe who hasn’t been sent to or longed for a solitary place to search the soul. But we know and remember those people for what they did when they came back. Buddha from the Bodhi tree, Moses from the mountain, Jonah from his gourd, Elijah from the cave, Jesus from the wilderness or even from his nap in the bow of a ship. They all bounced back and responded: comforting the needy, teaching the receptive, and dealing with the dodos without going crazy.

Speaking for myself, there’s something that goes on in that heart-of-the-watermelon place that makes me a better person. Perhaps it’s a sense of being part of something much larger than just being Susan. Touching even for a moment the sweet consciousness of being conceived and supported by an unconditionally loving Creator is like hitting the middle of the trampoline. I can’t help but bounce back and reach out to others.

And I see that going on all around me here. There is so much love in this place! The people around here respond when there’s a need.

Good coffee and daybreak over the mountains. Watermelon places in the heart at Chuck’s house and up and down these cobblestone streets. I have a feeling I’m in a neighborhood filled with sweet spots. It just has that bouncy feeling.

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