It is Easter and the sun just rose.
Every morning recently I have been waking and sitting with my coffee, my journal, my cat, and Simone Weil. She was a radical philosopher, a mystic and marxist, a spiritual seeker and committed materialist, who relentlessly sought an experience of the reality of justice and love. In this time of the Great Pause, of great disruption, suffering, and confusion as well as intimacy and possibility, Simone has been keeping me centered on the blend of intellect and lived spiritual practice that is the lodestone of my life.
Here I am again. For the first time ever, my husband and I are awake before our children on a holiday morning. Their baskets, filled with a hodge podge of candy I managed to find at our local grocery store this week, and some leftover jelly beans from last year (shhhh!), sit by my side. I sit in the quiet with my cat, with the mist in the trees outside, and Simone.
It turns out, she has something to say about this moment, spring in the year 2020, that feels like Zen, like a koan, like vast emptiness and love. Sometime in the early 1940s, she wrote a letter to a poet friend who was disabled in the First World War. She described to him what she called ‘the realm of the real.’ It startled me. I woke up with it today and am carrying it around inside me. And I now I give it to you (with some pronoun adjustments. Forgive me, Simone).
“The egg is this world we see. The bird in it is Love,…which lives in the depths of every [person], though at first as an invisible seed. When the shell is broken and the being is released, it still has this same world before it. But it is no longer inside. Space is opened and torn apart. The spirit … is transported to a point outside space, which is not a point of view, but from which this world is seen as it is, unconfused by perspective. … The moment stands still. The whole of space is filled, even though sounds can be heard, with a dense silence which is not an absence of sound but is a positive object of sensation; it is the secret word, the word of Love who holds us in [her] arms from the beginning.”Quoted in Siân Miles, “Introduction” to Simone Weil: An Anthology (1986)
Have you noticed? The shards and membranes we see and feel all around us today are the the cracked and tender eggshells of “normal” life. May you walk through and even on these eggshells today, not with fear or guilt, but with love, awareness, and confidence. May you see the new life waiting to surface, and surfacing, all around. The pale green oaks leafing out. The blue-eyed grass or crocuses or lilacs blooming. The people reaching for one another. The new forms breathing.
You are the bird of Love who has broken through the surface. You are walking in the great silence which is not an absence of sound.