A Silent Passage of Time

Written by: Julia Burger ~~

“If we open our eyes, if we open our minds, if we open our hearts, we will find that this world is a magical place.”  Choygam Trungpa Rinpoche

Third Monday of the month. 7:00 pm. The reception room is buzzing with new students. I bow and quietly close the door. The fragrance of garbage wafts up my nostrils greeting me in the night air. As of this moment in time I am no longer a greeter for Shambhala. A sweet and enduring six years. Over in a second. Walking along the alleyway I listen to the silence of time passing. It all seems like a dream. Perhaps it was. “Good evening and welcome to Shambhala.” Month after month, year after year. At times I served as timekeeper but it was the greeter position that warmed my heart. Meeting and greeting new and old members. Though leaving this city I remain a member of our great Mandala as I am moving to Pittsburgh.

The night air is warm and sensuous and I breathe in the sweetness of spring which DC has to offer in abundance. I turn the corner onto Ordway and I ask myself if I were to choose one gift I will carry with me what would it be? So many teachings to live by. My mind drifts to a silent moment in time when I was standing at my windows gazing into the woods contemplating gentleness. Six deer appeared and I thought how noble they are. The afternoon sun was glistening off the creek and the deer were enjoying the warmth of the day. Their sleek bodies, very slender legs and long necks all created a creature that was truly stunning, statuesque and gentle. Why not have the deer as your teachers of gentleness I ask myself.

Oft in the afternoon I went to my forest refuge in the woods and would sit by the creek. At times the deer would be resting there. They never ran when I arrived. They simply cocked their long necks and with wide open eyes would stare at me. Their ears pointing straight to the heavens. I would talk to them and at times share my sad heart. With keen attentiveness they listened intently.

I was learning embodied presence from them. When they rose up, their miraculous muscles adjusted themselves and they would leap over the creek into the woods. They never seemed to hurry even when they were gliding through the air. As they made their way up the hillside at times they would stop and turn around to look at me. Soon I learned to absorb their gentleness, my teachers I thought. It was as if they knew I was their student.

Driving up Connecticut Avenue one morning I saw one of my deer. She had been hit by a motorist. I just sat on the sidewalk and tears graced my cheeks. I wanted to carry her back to the woods and bury her. What to do? I had received so many lessons from her. So I went back to the forest and built a small shrine. After that day my deer seldom returned. In my dreams I would imagine myself a part of their herd traversing the mountains leaving the city. Perhaps their silent message to me was that I, too, soon would be leaving the city. Perhaps they sensed my lesson in gentleness was complete.

I have learned to listen. Listening to the silence breathing in the sacredness of the phenomenal world. The very same air that connects us all. Deer and I will always be friends. Like the sun their beauty, their purity, their elegance will rest within my tender heart forever.

Julia Burger

April 24, 2015