There Is a Field ó I'll Meet You There
the grass is damp or dry, lush or languishing, LAURA MUNSON tries to
simply sit and breathe and receive whatís there. You could call it
meditation, though thatís not what she calls it. She calls it sitting in
Sunday school, I colored pictures of crosses and lambs and learned that
the soul slips from the body after death and then passes through pearly
gates. Later, in yoga classes, I saluted the sun and learned that the
soul reincarnates from body to body, stumbling toward nirvana. But I
donít know if I believe in souls. Sometimes I donít believe in anything
at all except in green grass and its dying into brown and into flattened
detritus by ice and snow, and then in the new green grass that follows,
and browns, and flattens again. Sometimes thatís all the reincarnation,
all the heaven, I need to believe in.
than anything, I know that I belong there in the grass, believing in
it. Watching it sway in the wind. Watching the ascending ladybugs who
donít care if they are going the right or wrong way, who arenít aware of
anything but tiny foot after tiny foot.
is a field below my house. I go there and sit as often as I can. I try
to be as open as I can to the grass, whether itís wet or cold or muddy. I
try to just sit and breathe and receive whatever is there. I guess you
could call it meditation, though thatís not what I call it. I call it
sitting in the field. Itís a response to a Rumi quote I love: Outside of rightdoing and wrongdoing there is a field. Iíll meet you there. I like that field. Itís about yes. I want to be able to receive that yes.
But sometimes I am too concerned about the ladybugs and their
trajectory and about the bears that wander through this migration
corridor of my Montana home. Itís wild here and Iím afraid of my
wildness. Thatís why I go to my garden to sit.
smaller there and I am somewhat responsible for the design. I can trust
the apricot rugosas to bloom from June to September and the Queen
Anneís lace to grow up around the Buddha statue and the borage to come
up between the spaces on the pathway of heart-shaped rocks. There are
ladybugs there too, but I am less concerned for them, with so many
aphids to eat on so many rose leaves.
my garden, I make it easy for myself. Like Iím in kindergarten and itís
naptime, I lower myself down on a yoga mat spread out on the brick
pathway. I am contained by a picket fence on one side and my house on
the other. There are gates and trellises on each end covered in clematis
and honeysuckle, and crystals from my grandmotherís chandelier hang
from the old vine wood, catching light even on a gray day. I am
enclosed. And that helps on those days when the field is too big and the
less possible. Sometimes I bring tea on those days. Green tea with
jasmine in my favorite mug. Sometimes I bring a pot of tea. Sometimes I
bring my guitar. Sometimes I sing. Sometimes I donít exactly sit; I
squat for a while before I decide I can sit. And sometimes I just stand
there and take in a few breathsó letting them out through my mouth the
way Iíve been taught.
Other times I walk through the garden fast,
holding my breath, not wanting to know what yes is. The echoes of no too loud to sit at all.
Hereís what that no sounds
like: Who do you think you are, sitting in a garden doing nothing when
you should be cleaning the house, doing the dishes, folding laundry,
weeding, working on your novel, getting exercise, grocery shopping,
cleaning out the kidís closets, vacuuming the mouse shit in the basement
so the kids can have that slumber party theyíve wanted all summer,
applying for that grant, applying for that residency, pitching that
magazine editor, paying your bills, canning tomato sauce, volunteering
somewhere like Meals on Wheels, which you said you were going to sign up
for but havenít, helping that friend with the four kids and the slipped
disc, remembering your nieceís fivemonth- overdue graduation present,
baby present, birthday card, wedding gift, calling your mother. Who do
you think you are just sitting there considering the lilies? Itís folly
to sit there. Selfish. You have work to do. The ladybugs will be fine
without you and so will the grass for that matter, never mind the roses.
And by the way, they need pruning.
Perhaps you can relate.
Oh the fences we build, the gates and trellises even, in order to not sit in the field. In order to say no.
few weeks ago, my best friend of twenty-three years died. Interesting
how easy it is to sit in the field now. In fact, I have been doing
practically nothing else but sitting in the field. Iíve been choosing
deer beds, places where the grass is flat not from ice and snow, but
from creatures of prey finding warmth and cover before hunting season,
before rut. Everything is so vivid. The squirrels chattering in the
trees, the magpies coming in like caped crusaders, the turkeys waddling
and flocking like they know whatís coming at the end of November, the
logging trucks downshifting fast for somethingólikely a deer or a dog. I
find myself praying and yes, sometimes begging, for us all to be
protected. But I find myself more willing to die, the grass so wet with
suddenly, with all this sitting, I find myself cleaning out closets and
putting baby blankets into plastic storage bins marked in Sharpie ďFor
grandchildren.Ē I havenít had a baby for yearsómy youngest is in sixth
grade. I find myself getting rid of sippy cups that have lurked in
kitchen drawers. Vacuuming up that mouse shit in the basement. Putting
up a white sheet and buying a projector and blowing up air mattressesówe
will have those movie night parties with the kidsí friends. Weíll watch
Funny Face and An American in Paris and make popcorn and ice-cream sundaes. No will become yes. And sitting helps.
souls sleep? Do they laugh? Do they cry? Do they remember who they left
behind? Do they make agreements to heal in ways they couldnít before?
Do they have agendas? Do they sit and say yes,
or are they restless? Is it all field where they live? In the world of
soul without flesh is there ever garden and fence and gate and the heat
of the sun on the house and the yoga mat promising safety? Are there
bears in heaven?