The Arrival of Summer


Holidays are coming, and soon our centre family will vanish away to relatives in hometowns, to gatherings down-country in small coastal villages, settlements where an uncle owns a seaside bach, an odd ritual here like some seasonal homing instinct, a migratory impulse honed through childhoods of summers.

In these waning months of the year the parklands near my home gather around them like a cloak their springtime garb of mists and resurgent greens and slow veils of rain. At dawn when I like to wander here, night drains out of the sky in retreat and the vanquishing sun – its orange orb like a great bloodied eye – climbs up out of the distant sea in pursuit, the colors of its wounds infusing the heavens with yellows and apricots and veins of red.

I often feel as though I have stumbled into an eighteenth century English landscape, one of indistinct oaks and rolling greenscapes smudged with mist and filled with birdsong, the competing songsters so clear and polyphonic, pristine liquid sounds like water droplets in a dark, deep cave.  Ridgeline trees are black silhouettes above the low-lying fog – the bare fingers of their branches seem like inverted capillaries feeding off the heavens. And the sky! It fills most of the visible world, overarching and startlingly blue, daubed with shifting cloud colors, flaring golds, blushings of red and pink, the quick changing pageantry of dawn.

Long ago, on a sunny day Sri Chinmoy walked the perimeter road of this green domain, jogged a little in his blue tracksuit. Today at dawn, retracing his footsteps, I have two books in my pocket, an ambulatory half hour of reading – one is Guru’s “Yoga and the Spiritual Life”, the other Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus”, the existential work about Sisyphus, the Greek anti-hero condemned by the Gods to endlessly push a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll back down each time he reached the top. “His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth,” writes Camus.

Camus’ words were all about happiness – how to find it in a world wherein we struggle, suffer and die, without finding any real meaning in our existence or without someone to explain this condition to us. But ‘one does not discover the absurd without attempting to write a manual of happiness. ….Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth’, he writes.

And of Sisyphus: “He knows himself to be the master of his days. At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, Sisyphus returning toward his rock, in that silent pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which becomes his fate, created by him, combined under his memory’s eye and soon sealed by his death..… Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

But I like Guru’s greater insights much more, and in ‘Yoga and the Spiritual Life’ my kind and wise teacher reminds me of much deeper truths about ourselves:

“God is in you, God looks exactly like you. Right now, you are God veiled. You have put on a mask, but I see through the mask. In the future, you will be the God unveiled. You will take off the mask and we shall see you as God manifested, the open God.”