While unloading the dishes I was struck by an accidental arrangement of my friend Stephanie’s pottery*. Three lovely teacups and saucers, a bowl and a mug smiling from the top rack. Art in the dishwasher.
There is so much beauty in the world, so much vibrant life, and yet, the quiet splendor of the world can so easily go unnoticed. We may marvel at a particularly glorious sunset, or be filled with awe at a geography not our own, but what about the little majesties? What about the small daily delights? Like pottery in the dishwasher.
My brother says “It is because God is so constant that we forget.**” When something is always there it is so easy not to notice, or take it for granted. Correction, when something good is always there we forget. It’s easy to take detailed notes on the persistently irritating things in life.
But what would happen if we were to turn all of that nit-picky energy and refocus it on the small, really small, beauties in life? We would become true disciples of the householder’s path, not to mention, much happier people. John Friend tells a story of watching his spiritual teacher wash dishes. “Have you ever seen a master wash a plate? The way she dips it and out of the water, it’s like an exquisite dance, because she knows that dish, the water, her hand, all of it is Shakti, all of it Divine.***”
While these tiny displays of beauty are individually fleeting, they are born from a Constant, like those lightening shows you see on field trips to the science museum. Out of the darkness bright bits of light burst here, there and everywhere. “Look at me, here I am!” The fingerlings of electricity are so enchanting it’s easy to miss the brilliant orb in the middle of the room creating the sparks.
Appreciating the small joys in life is actually the work of remembering the bigger picture. These dazzling little displays of Grace are complete in and of themselves but they also point to a greater wholeness. They point to the constant presence of God. Through seeing the small things we begin to awaken to the vision the Infinite that surrounds us and is in us. Seeing God’s continuous presence in the world is fairly easy. Connecting to such inner Constancy is decidedly harder. That’s what meditation is for. In meditation you get to internalize all those outer cues and follow them on the path to the heart.
Take a moment to look around you. Really look. What strikes you as beautiful, delightful, perhaps even humorous? Notice the smile that plays across your lips when you become aware of this little darling of a moment. Notice how for even just a second, you soften. Then in meditation, asana, prayer, or other centering practice come back to the memory of this tiny beauty. Feel the expansion as you appreciate the smallness of life. Breathe into the fullness that is already there and savor those little beauties as expressions of God’s grandeur; as reminders of the ever affirming presence of Grace “in you, as you and all around you.”****