Metta's fourth trimester

- through Francois Leclercq

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Welcome, dear readers, to a new month of taking put from the meditation cushion and into the world.

Last month we celebrated the often invisible and unspoken power of Metta Banalities. This month I finished the growing season and cut down tools for winter at the regenerative farm I've been volunteering at since April.

Pulling up the withered seedlings I had sown when I arrived in spring to make room for next year's crops was surprisingly bittersweet. The tunnels, once filled with tomato plants, beans and cucumbers, had suddenly returned to brown, barren beds.

I silently blessed and thanked each plant for all it had contributed as I unwrapped them from their supporting twine and prepared them for composting. And all around me, the team was adjusting to the departure of our head grower in September and planning for next season, one new decision at a time.

Many years ago I worked in stage management and remembered a similar bittersweetness at the end of a production: dismantling sets that had felt like home for a while and watching the cast and crew who had felt like family for a while fall apart.

In French, there is an expression to describe this mood of simultaneously looking backward and forward: be all ages at the same timewhich means “to have all ages at once”.

The most physically difficult job to complete before winter arrived was to prepare an area about half the size of a tennis court for a new no-dig court next year. The theory was to roll out pieces of black plastic, weigh them down with old tires and wooden pallets, and let the darkness work its magic for a few months suppressing all plant growth until January, when we would dig trenches for new growing beds. ultra-rich compost.

That was the theory. The practice – as with much of life – was something else.

It took us almost two busy and very funny days to lay the tarpaulin flat. Every time we thought we had succeeded, we turned around and, with a change in direction of the harsh autumn winds, discovered new pockets of air that negated our efforts, like a life-size version of the children's quick reflex game Whack -has. -Mole!

When the tarpaulin had survived every possible twist and turn of the wind and the sun reappeared, the now unshakable surface shone like water. And knowing the effort, the swearing, the laughter and the teamwork that had gone into making it happen, I was surprised to feel the same satisfaction walking past him afterwards as I had when I saw the seeds growing. propagate in spring and the tunnels fill during summer.

The installation of these tarpaulins without digging also foreshadowed similar events on my inner horizon.

A few days before taking my first real break since last December, I discovered I was in the thick of workplace politics following the departure of our head producer. I was told I was no longer needed after being subjected to all kinds of future promises. Although I usually take these ebbs and flows of life in my stride, what blindsided me was how this was done and why I hadn't seen it coming sooner.

Dear readers, for all of you who have seen the film Knives out (2019), you will no doubt remember the shady intrigues that send the innocent central character, Marta, spinning in circles.

Much like I had put down those tarps a few weeks earlier, it took a few days for the wind of sudden change to unearth every possible emotional feeling left inside me. And once everything was settled after many hours of sitting with pain, confusion, and anger, the real reasons became clear to me: All summer long, I had unwittingly been used in a game that was not of my creation or choice.

During this week I also visited a colleague who was on maternity leave, as described in Vanishing Metta. She nicknamed her new son the Hibernation Guru in funny photo updates because he was definitely teaching her to slow down. And when I met him for the first time, I understood why. Even though she felt tired from childbirth and finding their breastfeeding rhythm, the sleepy glow that surrounded them both was a nursery to experience, unlike the intrigues within the intrigues at work.


In her rocking chair by the fire, my colleague reminded me of the bear on the box of Sleepytime Celestial Seasonings herbal tea. She laughed at the comparison when I made us tea and remembered her childhood near the factory and the many school trips to visit it. Her favorite memory was how the peppermint coin always made her feel awake and alive.

She listened to me recount everything I was thinking and all the emotions that recent events had triggered in me. It was both relieving and disappointing to discover that I was simply collateral damage in a larger, darker process, but I was also the most affected and needed to move on.

Coming from a traveling circus and carnival family herself, my colleague asked me a wise question: “All drama aside, where is home?” I'm currently spending this time in Mama Bear's cave in front of the fire. How can you get your version of cave time?

I responded with some of the weird and wonderful ways I had learned over my years of house-sitting to believe that "home" was a frequency rather than a place, and I developed a private ritual when A reality seemed "finished", but I didn't yet know how to move on. I cleaned the space I took care of as thanks for sheltering me and packed my bags in preparation for the next move.

Hibernation Guru's mother laughed knowingly at the mention of packing for an early departure and described preparing to go to the hospital, with her midwife asking her to do a final mental sweep of his mind and one final physical sweep of household chores. that she could truly give in at birth.

“Consider yourself in your life's work now: you may not know where you are going, but at least now you know that you are while going. Focus on that and let other people's drama fade away.

Encouraged by this put-phor, this reminded me over the next few days to be as gentle with myself as she is with her newborn son. And to give myself time while the old reality that remained in the seed bank under the tarpaulin died to make way for a new reality next spring.

It's not as easy as it seems when you're still living in place and your body just wants to hibernate rather than make important decisions or changes. And so, my inner mama bear thought of a compromise to allow me to spend time in the cave under the tarp of my quilt until the plots within the plots all around me died down.

I wrote an email to the team defending everything I had done to support not only them since April, but also seven other farms over the previous year. I asked them to consider what they could learn from my experiences for the well-being of future volunteers, and decreed that holding space for many struggling souls over the past 18 months now required some time of hibernation.

I was retiring in every sense of the word and suggested that all the overtime I had given in good faith to help everyone thrive be put toward renting the trailer I was still staying in. I wished them well and drew a firm line around my time in the cave to emphasize that, while I would remain my friendly, genuine self in passing, I was not available to discuss work matters further .

This was written in the spirit of the final scene of Knives outin which Marta drinks "my house, my rules, my coffee" from a cup while wrapped in a blanket on the balcony of the estate she has just inherited, while watching the family's intrigues unfold below.

The detective who solves the mystery congratulates her for winning the game by playing by her own rules rather than those of others. And during this turbulent inner week when I was becoming unfazed, my inner detective reminded me of the time when I had seen this pattern before in Metta Long Corridor and congratulated me on winning a more sophisticated version of that previous game by refusing to play it again.

Hitting “send” on the message and sending all the drama back to their sender(s) proved my final twitch.

I slept like a baby that night for the first time in weeks. When I returned for another audience with the Hibernation Guru a few days later, his wise mother told me about all the ways the gestation process still continues into a fourth trimester after birth. Her midwife had assured her that she would have the energy to do things when her body was ready to do so, rather than her mind, her will, or outside influences.

And so I took this new put-back to my mama bear's cave while letting Dharma decide what wanted to grow next when the hibernation tarps return in 2024.

Whatever dramas you did not cause are dying down around you right now, dear readers, rest assured that some time under the cover of put will exhaust what wants to disappear while regenerating you and whatever new reality is waiting to be born.

Or for put-morphs Michael Bublé's love song into an imaginary future wife, whom he met for real on the set of the music video for "Haven't Met You Yet":

I'm not surprised, everything doesn't last
I broke my heart so many times, I stopped following

Talk to me, I talk to myself
I get angry then I give up

I might have to wait, I'll never give up
I guess it's half timing and half luck

Wherever you are, whenever it's right
Metta will come out of nowhere and enter my life

And I know we can be so amazing
And baby, your love will change me

And now I can see all the possibilities

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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