December 2008 ~ Shibui
Shibui – (she BOO ee) Japanese
The beauty of aging
If January is the month of new beginnings, often characterized by a newborn baby, then December must be the month of maturity or completions. Without seeing this as a sad or negative thing, let us recognize the beauty of bringing things to fruition. Here’s what the compiler of “World Words” has to say.
“From the growth of moss on a rock to the pattern of wrinkles in a face, time bestows loveliness on all that is alive. Maturity cannot be rushed. It depends upon the everlasting cycle of development and decay. Whether referring to a mellowed tea, a landscape feature, or an aged room, shibui is a quality that speaks of persistence and sustained unfolding. In a culture which glorifies both youth and speed, this elusive sense of beauty may be hard to grasp. Yet it helps us to redefine how we embrace everything from old growth forests to revered sacred sites to the old people living next door. When we are able to appreciate the gifts that only the passage of a lifetime can manifest, all of existence seems more precious. In one face we perceive all the golden features that have ever been. Within a single ancient oak lie the forms of all the trees yet to come.”
There is a scene in one of my favorite movies called “Phenomenon” where the main character is trying to help two children understand the fact that he is dying. He says, “Everything is on its way to somewhere.” Perhaps December says this, as well, being, as it is, a bridge that we cross from what has been to what is yet to be. Learning to see the beauty in each transition, from what is completed to what is beginning, is our work. Perhaps it begins with seeing that beauty in ourselves… in our faces and changing bodies… in our relationships as they come and go… in our understanding of what beauty truly is and how it relates to everything around us. I love the Native American prayer/song that goes like this:
I walk with beauty before me,
I walk with beauty behind me,
I walk with beauty above me,
I walk with beauty below me,
I walk with beauty all around me.
My world is so beautiful, my Lord.
May this be our prayer of shibui as we gently release all that has been and welcome all that is coming to meet us.