Yugen

Weeping willow trees have mesmerized me since childhood. They are gentle giants, tickling the surface of land and water. Their austere presence offset by their affable, swaying limbs.

We spent the weekend at Scott’s parents’ house in Lone Jack. The calm(ish) before the storm of the upcoming weeks. My mind was still busy making plans and organizing details (the ‘ish’ in the calm) but it was nice to relax and even ‘trash talk’ while playing cards after dinner and simply being present with my in-laws while they went about their normal routines (this weekend it was replacing brake lines in a truck and picking mountains of beautiful okra from the garden.) If you read my previous post about our upcoming move you can imagine how much I enjoyed being out in the country, drinking it all in. They were excited for us and told us stories of times when they visited the Sacramento area of California.

On Saturday morning, Scott and I ran into town for a quick errand. On the way, we passed by these beautiful willows. I asked Scott to pull over, so I could take a picture.

I stood before them and admired their grace. I might have heard them snicker at me a little bit. They mocked my harried stress over our move. From their decades of holding court over this spot, they shook their heads at the overall insignificance of our current situation. In the grand scheme of things, we are but moments.

It seems the Japanese get all the good words. Many of us have embraced the word ‘wabi sabi’: a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Many books have been written about this freeing concept of letting go of perfection and embracing what is. I have recently learned another Japanese word, ‘yugen’: those moments when your awareness of the universe triggers an emotional response too deep and mysterious for words. I felt yugen as I stood before these weeping willows. They tower over us in strength and size but quietly invite us to come sit under their umbrella and escape everything for just a few moments. I was thankful we’d pulled over to watch them for a couple of minutes before hurrying on.

As I drove out to Lone Jack on Friday afternoon (meeting Scott there after work) I was listening to a podcast and heard this analogy:

The most anxious time is waiting for your cake to rise. Especially when you want to hurry up and eat it! Yet no matter how much you want to jump over the baking part, it doesn’t matter how high you turn up the oven, it will not make your cake rise any faster.

(Of COURSE a cake analogy would make the most sense to me!) -ha!

I want to absorb the images of the willow branches blowing in the wind and the analogy of the cake taking its perfect time to rise. I want to take them into the moving process these next few weeks. I want to remember them when the inevitable glitches will occur.

God whispered through weeping willow tree lessons, card games with quarters, shop projects and time spent with family. That’s a pretty good weekend in my book. I hope yours was rejuvenating as well.