Fiery leaves gather around the base of our two Blaze Maple trees. Most will form a winter’s blanket over gnarly roots. But two handfuls of leaves will be part of this afternoon’s workshop, Schmoozing Your Muse. Once gathered, I carry them into the kitchen where they’re carefully washed before I head out.
Workshop participants, a circle of 23 men and women, one by one select a leaf to begin the exercise. I ask them to explore the leaf with their five senses: touch taste, scent, sound and sight. The room falls silent as these explorers prod, caress and drink in the uniqueness of their crimson companion. One brave man actually tastes his leaf, making me glad that I’d washed them.
A meditative silence fills the room.
We have now entered the place of poets, monks and scientists. A place where focused awareness turns mundane objects into mentors. Walt Whitman, the American poet, said it this way: “I see the world in a blade of grass, the universe in a single grain of sand.
Deep looking bestows gifts.
I watch participants as they spiritedly write down their discoveries. The next step is to share with a partner and now the room explodes with energy. Poems, insights and tender memories are shared. All this takes place in less than an hour.
What is it that occurs when I stop and fully embrace my surroundings? Everything becomes a window into my world. The simplest things become “object lessons.” Nature, a faithful instructor, offers guidance when we study: a colorful leaf, cracks in rock or ripples across a pond. Their illuminating lessons are understood only if I slow down and notice what I notice.
I read that dragonflies have been around since prehistoric times. What they must have seen as their graceful wings fluttered over mastodons and above triceratops. What secrets they must whisper into the heart of the rose.
I also wish to be a student of the dragonfly’s curriculum.
How many leaves do I walk by in a day? Is each a possible teacher? That is mind blowing. I know my creative spirit flourishes when I listen to surrounding teachers. My muse, discerning as she is, won’t come out unless I am quiet. She wants full attention. Shared stillness invited the muse to join us in today’s workshop. Once again I’ve learned this important lesson:
The fastest way to connect with the muse is to slow down.