It's been an impactful last two months for me and in this last week, I have seen the clearing beyond the woodline and have made a B-line towards it. I can talk at you all day about the rough feelings, the awkward asks for help, the anxiety that had settled into my chest, and even the cusp of a mid-life crisis I've seen the glimpse of at the edge of this charnel ground. The look of not exhaustion, but of sheer annoyance has etched itself onto my face as my wild hair and dirty feet continue to carry me to the edge of this ashline. I further imagine myself beating my damaru as the hollow reminder that I asked for this obstacle.
Missing a weekend teaching to be with family, I rolled up the driveway and walked in the door. Annoyed. Sour. The noises of laughter and chopping of vegetables only brought out, "I'm going to the Temple," in me. I couldn't even give a greeting in the state I was in. I walked out the back patio door and down the short trail to the back stupa area of Deer Park. My routine is to walk two and a half times around it, stepping out of that round to go up into the Kalachakra Temple, and when I'm done there, I complete the rest of my three rounds to head back up the trail to the house. On repeat, I chant Vajrayogini's mantra and in the temple, I kneel before Her tapestry and tear my heart out.
But that day, there I was ...
... newly kneeling when I saw it - a mouse at the foot of HHDL's picture, which is in front of Vajrayogini. "If there's ever a place to die ... you did good, little one." I was going to leave it until I was done and then take it outside, when suddenly it started making noises! I crawled over to it and this little thing must have been just older than a baby because it had fur and claws, but with its eyes still closed and its mouth making little sucking sounds. I went to the other shrine area in the temple and found a roll of paper towel to pick this baby up with. Outside it was so cold and windy, and with how the baby was acting I knew it was stunned and needed care - so I couldn't just set it down to figure the world out itself. Had I done that, I believe that would have been negligent and so, it and me went around the stupa three times while I chanted Vajrayogini's mantra aloud for this little one to hear. I petted its head while I walked back up the trail to the house. There, in a container with more paper towel, sunflower seeds, and a cap of water we sat together on the patio steps. It opened its eyes to look at me as I spoke to it and petted its head some more.
After a bit, I found a place sheltered from the wind, though in the sunshine, under a shrub to set this little one in the comfort and security of the container. Sometime shortly after that, when it had gained enough strength and fortitude, it was no longer in the container when I went out to check on it. I knew the little mouse left on its own accord because nothing else was disturbed around where the container was, nor was anything within the container, and the water was still in the cap. I walked back in the house now ready to join the world myself.
Did you hear that? .. a wee mouse cracked my heart open.