Friday, June 25, 2010

Empty Basket

This morning I sat outside to meditate with an empty basket.

I had been using this basket to keep sticky pads and note paper in. As I cleaned off the desk so that my partner had room for his stuff, I kept moving it around. There really wasn't a great place for it anymore. So, it kept finding temporary homes around the office: on top the file cabinet, on top of another pile of papers, under the desk, and on the floor. Sticky pads kept falling out.

Why did I feel compelled to keep it so full?

I recently overheard my daughter telling her husband that I have a thing for office supplies.

It's true. I like paper and pens, tape dispensers and staplers. I really love colored markers and crayons. I keep file folders and notebooks for re-use. I like to look like I mean business. I like to feel in control of my life and this helps. But clearly, my basket was getting out of hand.

This is more than symbolic. Since moving three years ago, I took over setting up the house while my partner set-up a garage and moved his "projects" in - with cars and trucks that he wanted to salvage or keep up, lots of tools, and items he couldn't part with. I rationalized controlling the house space, because "we" were hoping to use this new place as a counseling/retreat place. It would be my business from home.

It hasn't turned out quite that way. I do have a small counseling practice at home. I've held workshops on aging and spirituality. We have held meeting for worship (a Quaker form of worship) here. Community activities have taken place. But I really didn't need to lock him out of the office. I just needed a locked file drawer for my work.

The basket seemed to keep getting lost and spilling over while I was sorting through the desk contents. Even after the desk was cleaned out, the basket couldn't seem to find its place - until this past week.

The usual facilitator of the meditation group would be out of town for two weeks. I offered to fill in.

The first week, I brought the chime, a small vase of flowers and a reading. When someone asked where the basket was for dana (the Buddhist term for donations), I realized that I didn't have one. But then it dawned on me that I knew exactly what would serve as our dana basket next week.

This week, I cleaned out the basket, recycling most of the papers and passing on the pads to my partner. He told me that he had just made scrap-paper note pads since he was out of them at his work. This is a company where cost-cutting measures included reducing staff by a third last year and where each office supply purchase is carefully considered.

I brought the empty basket to meditation and it seems everyone contributed to the dana this week.

In preparation for my daily morning meditation today, I put out the empty basket. I used it as a reminder to empty myself and appreciate the lightness of passing on whatever comes my way without clinging. As I dedicated the merit of my practice to the well-being of all in the universe, two herons flew nearby and honked.

The simplicity of their graceful flight inspired in me a sense of lightness and freedom that I imagine the basket must be enjoying.


  1. Hi Diane,

    Thank you for taking me into your space and your practice.