Playing with magnetic tiles
(Play is everywhere. Even in our painful struggles, it is also a dance,
or perhaps it may feel like an arm wrestling match……)
One of our brothers, was before he entered the Monastery, a teacher. He taught young children, and like most teachers who have the gift of relating to young people, he himself has a very strong, mature, childlike personality. He is a good speaker, and when we sometimes do a retreat together, I enjoy in how he relates to the group. He draws them out, asks each one their name and where they come from etc. On my own, I don’t do that, but like it when he does.
We have become good friends, and he still teaches me. I can be a bit scatterbrained. I do believe I have a touch of ADD, so when I go off on some tangent, he always calls me back by calmly saying my name, once, or twice, or six times….works every time.
About two months back, he decided to place some colored tiles on one of the boards situated on our ground floor that is no longer being used. So he put them up, and a few of us play with it. Well let’s say, I am probably the main one since I love moving things around, and seeing what comes up. They are of different shapes and colors, so there is room for a lot of variation. I play with the tiles, the same way I write, I just do it. Two other brothers that I know of also like to move them around. I find it relaxing, and fun, and frustrating. Since I may have something in mind, sort of, but what comes out looks different.
I like to press them close together on some days, making both sides the same, balanced, perhaps a bit OCD on my part. Then on other days, they are spread out and can take on some shapes that look like some sort of archetypal animal totem. I was playing one morning and found that the long stream I was working on, had the head of a fighting chicken on it…..can’t have that, so I tried to change things around, but no matter what I did it still looked like it had some sort of head. One brother, the teacher, said it looked like a dragon……I have no idea how he got that.
Some days the tight formation, is sort of in the middle of both styles. True, tightly packed, but both sides do not match up, though it might not be obvious at first. Expansion and retraction. I have always been a big believer that what we create, no matter how simple, or just playful, is a window to our inner life. It can also bring out the inner conflict that I think is part and parcel, of least my life, my inner life.
When I pray, and feel that I have gone deep within, the experience can be either peaceful, with a feeling of connection with the Infinite. Or my experience can be one of an explosion of color, feeling, and emotion. Which is not always a wonderful experience, but I have learned I need to stick with it. If in my meditation I feel loving, later, I will have to deal with the so-called opposite, when it fact it is just part of the continuum of one’s inner life.
Play, is everywhere. Even in our painful struggles, it is also a dance, or perhaps it may feel like an arm wrestling match……yet to stick with it, to calmly observe the inner drama, leads to inner wholeness, though it is one small step at a time. To seek to escape life’s many frustrations, will only over time increase the inner tension that can be manifested in addictions, troubled relationships, and a feeling that one’s life is aimless. Being an eternal cycle of the same exhausting struggles that lead nowhere, except to one’s own personal death.
Play, is not always easy, nor pain-free, but to understand that all of our lives is ‘play’, it can help us to find balance, and to have a more realistic outlook on life.
The more deeply we trust in the process of life, which for me is fed by my faith, the more easily we can allow the needed struggles and even failures to work themselves out. There will always be pain. Yet, both our pain, and suffering, can lead to deeper healing, or to a deep all pervasive bitterness. I find it strange that the road to bitterness is easier to choose than the one for healing. Since to heal, means that one has to choose to take a path that is arduous, hidden, and with much less drama. Yet when the road to healing is chosen, the Infinite draws closer, or perhaps we just become more aware of what was always there all along, patiently waiting for our hearts to open.—Br.MD