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Leaving with Rake

Walking the Dogs in the Rain

Our walk was started with awareness because the clouds were graying dark and the wind sharp touched us as it whirled the leaves in dance. We walked with great speed knowing that soon the rain would fall and we could easily be soaked.

Already during the night, the winds had cleared numerous branches and deposited in every gutter and drain. I scraped my hands and the sides of my shoes digging deep into each drain to remove the piles of leaves. My friend John was heading towards his car for work and saw my endeavors, questioned my motives, and went in to his shed for his own rake.  In minutes, his drain and gutters were cleared.  Thank you.

The house that is not rented is covered in red leaves and I bend and swoop my arms with big loads and deposit the bundles up higher in the yard and in the garden beds.  Puppy tries to help and I remain ever watchful of the cars and buses going by; they seemed to take no notice of us. My head grumbles about the property owner’s neglect.

We head home and I sweep the plum leaves from our driveway and add them to the compost pile knowing that I must gather my gear and head off to the worst offender at 8th and Decatur. Rake, bucket, scoop, and gloves and I proceed to clean up and let the water flow. I am feeling self-righteous. I am feeling angry. I want to come up with a whole list of words to encompass my feelings about the people who live beneath these nine huge maple trees. I want to bring these words to a boil and let them churn about within me as motivation to clean up and free up the drains and gutters.

The lady of the house comes out and says, “what are you doing?” I explain that all the leaves are blocking the flow of the rainwater which will in just minutes run into my house, make the sump pumps run, and filled the city drains to overflowing. Whereas, if I rake up all the leaves blocking the flow, the water will run in intervals off the street, through the storm grateful and drain system thus bypassing my house. She said, the city workers will be by to do this in about a month. I replied not anymore, for three years leaf cleanup has been taken off the city budget. I could call for an extra trip but I would have to pay lots of money to have them come. I do not wish to use my money that way.

It has started to rain and I go back to work moving the leaves.  It is totally out of her awareness that these trees and leaves are her responsibility.

Kindness begins to saturate my heart and my mind is feeling the repercussions of this flow within me. I am raking and moving the leaves because I am selfish. I do not want a river of water rushing into my home. I do not want all these leaves blocking the drains and making my sump pump$ run and run. What I want is my home to be safe and dry. What I want is to be able to go away for a week and know that my home is safe and dry. I can achieve this by loving each bundle of leaf and by placing the bundles safely away from the street. Meditation begins.

The passing cars begin to move around me with greater care. The two city bus drivers, who are on this route today, smile and wave each of their 20 minute excursions of passing. A walker says, “Aren’t the leaves beautiful?” I hear her but I do not respond for my mind is full of the beauty of these leaves. My body is telling me it is tired and the rain is feeling heavier; I look around and see that the job is generally done. I stretch up and see the many leaves still hanging on and know I will need to return.

It has taken me nearly 20 years to achieve this level of kindness in my practice.  I am full of Thanksgiving for this opportunity and for the grace of this day.

Have you been practicing something for 20 years? Has it become a practice of loving-kindness? Does it change your heart and mind?

Please share it with us.
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Spectacular Gift coming to this blog on 11-24-2011 just need to make a comment – Have we got a surprise gift for you dear readers!

Related Reading:
Being Alive- Another Teacher Arrives
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Willpower
Trees Coming Down

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19 Responses to “Leaving with Rake”

  1. rob white Says:

    Way to take care of business, Patricia! Life works wonderfully when we approach life with a “mood of solutions” rather than a “mood of problems.” You could have easily chosen a victim mentality and feeling of burden for cleaning your neighbors leaves. You consciously chose loving kindness. That is power! Me? I have chosen to love shoveling my neighbors sidewalk in the winter. Not only does it help them, it ensures a safe, clear travel on my way to the pond. Win win! :)
    rob white recently posted..Developing a Healthy EgoMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    Win-win indeed Mr. White and I feel relieved too….
    I think it rather blesses my house and neighborhood….

    I just finished reading Sources OF Insight Gandhi quotes post again and I remember that when he found his community even he cleaned the toilets and wove the garments…that is inspiring!

  2. rob white Says:

    Way to take care of business, Patricia! Life works wonderfully when we approach life with a “mood of solutions” rather than a “mood of problems.” You could have easily chosen a victim mentality and feeling of burden for cleaning your neighbors leaves. You consciously chose loving kindness. That is power! Me? I have chosen to love shoveling my neighbors sidewalk in the winter. Not only does it help them, it ensures a safe, clear travel on my way to the pond. Win win. :)
    rob white recently posted..Developing a Healthy EgoMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    We do not have much snow, but we always do the whole block…my kids love to shovel snow! It makes it a loving family affair

  3. Deborah Barker Says:

    What a wonderful post Patricia and how hard you must have worked! Loved your positive spin on what could have been task filled with resentment. I always try to look on the bright side and see the other person’s point of view. I am not especially good, but have just found my life runs more smoothly this way. Thanks for an inspiring post :-)

    patricia Reply:

    Deborah,
    Thank you for coming on by and reading….I really enjoyed writing this post to – as witness to my transformed feelings and actions

    I do have a few sore muscles remaining from the workour!

  4. Jeffrey Willius Says:

    Nice post, Patricia — I relate especially to your ability to embrace the gutter clearing not just as a task, but as an experience. That, so often, is where the wonder lies! Thanks for this reminder…
    Jeffrey Willius recently posted..BURNING BUSHMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    Hi Jeffrey,
    It took me awhile, but when I realized that I needed to do it and that anger and resentment was actually making the task harder and the leaves unresolved to protect my home….well, I just had to switch gears. It has taken many years of practice, but well worth the effort and energy. And, the other benefit is I truly do fee better :) Thank you for coming by and adding your good words

  5. patricia Says:

    Oh do I have a treat of a gift for one lucky commenter who comments on the site Nov 24,25,0r 26….I will mail it to you…not limited…

    I can hardly wait to reveal!

  6. suzen Says:

    Oh Patricia, what a wonderful reminder for us all to keep love in the heart regardless of the icky task at hand! For me, the snow can be really heavy if I’m not feelin’ the love! Good timing for this, thanks!
    Hugs
    Suzen

    patricia Reply:

    suzen,
    You are welcome and thank you for your kind words…

    Keeping the love in your heart – and surrounding one in every task to be completed – we all need this boost !

  7. Davina Haisell Says:

    Beautiful post, Patricia. Your writing was wonderful! I was right there with you, clearing those leaves. It’s satisfying to clear our own way — to use a metaphor — recognizing when we shift our perception into a more harmonious position. Experiencing that shift is a win-win, too because it will affect other people who cross your path. As Suzen said, this is a great reminder.
    Davina Haisell recently posted..Lorem Ipsum for the Smarty PantsMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    Oh so nice to see you here today – thinking about you lots, but think you must be getting some good work coming in…

    Thank you for your kind and lovely words….
    Up sometimes it takes the physical exertion to connect to what needs clearing up and out!

  8. Sara Says:

    Patricia,

    I loved how you turned your anger into meditation and forgiveness. I know sometimes when I work physically hard at something, my mind settles. It sounds like cleaning the leaves did that for you. Great writing and an excellent reminder post. Thanks for sharing this:~)
    Sara recently posted..Story Photo: Open the DoorMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    Thank you Sara,
    What kind words. I think we all need reminders.

    I am leaving home, spouse and puppy for a week away and am writing like furry to get ready to have a few days out of house experience… but on my walk this morning, I can see that I need to go back to the problem spot and clean up the area again…we now have snow predicted for this coming weekend ( very unusual here) I can not leave this for my family to contend with…need to turn up the volume on the meditation zone again…and still pack my suitcase!

  9. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    “Kindness begins to saturate my heart and my mind is feeling the repercussions of this flow within me.”

    This is a beautiful word picture. Thank you for painting it here.
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted..BodhisattvaMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you Laurie for coming by to share in my wordsa

  10. Jannie Funster Says:

    I think you are being PRACTICAL — not selfish at all.

    Yes — I HAVE been practicing something for almost 20 years — on Feb. 22, our 20th wedding anniversary.

    I’ve been practicing love. But maybe only in the past week getting good at it! :) Not criticizing. Remembering it’s all small stuff. Rembering how great it feels to laugh!!

    Raking leave in my heart now and enjoying their beauty…

    oxxo
    Jannie Funster recently posted..5 Things It’s Best Not To RushMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Only getting good a love in the past week – oh Jannie that is just precious… and made me laugh

    I think you were born loving…