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Shoveling Snow with Buddha ~ Billy Collins

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  • Ash
    In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wokyou would never see him doing such a thing,tossing the dry snow over a mountainof his bare, round
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 5, 2011

      In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok

      you would never see him doing such a thing,

      tossing the dry snow over a mountain

      of his bare, round shoulder,

      his hair  tied in a knot,

      a model of concentration.


      Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word

      for what he does, or does not do.


      Even the season is wrong for him.

      In all of his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?

      Is this not implied by his serene expression,


      that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?


      But here we are, working our way down the driveway,

      one shovelful at a time.

      We toss the light powder into the clear air.

      We feel the cold mist on our faces.

      And with every heave we disappear

      and become lost to each other

      in these sudden clouds of our own making,

      these fountain bursts of snow.


      This is so much better than a sermon in church,

      I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.

      This is the true religion, the religion of snow,

      and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,

      I say, but he is too busy to hear me.


      He has thrown himself into shoveling snow

      as if it were the purpose of existence,

      as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway

      you could back the car down easily

      and drive off into the vanities of the world

      with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.


      All morning long we work side by side,

      me with my commentary

      and he inside his generous pocket of silence,

      until the hour is nearly noon

      and the snow is piled high all around us;

      then, I hear him speak.


      After this, he asks,

      can we go inside and play cards?


      Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk

      and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table

      while you shuffle the deck

      and our boots stand dripping by the door.


      Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his yes

      and leaning for a moment on his shovel

      before he drives the thin blade again

      deep into the glittering white snow

      'May we live in peace without weeping. May our joy outline the lives we touch without ceasing. And may our love fill the world, angel wings tenderly beating.'
      The Universal Heart Center

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