February 9 – The Thing in the Way – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

We tend to make the thing in the way, the way. 

We were up early, eager to walk the Botanical Gardens of Montreal, where they have the largest bonsai collection in the world outside of Asia. We strolled toward the Chinese Temple Garden, a lush yet simple retreat from the street that covers acres, a place of renewal originally constructed in the 1600’s in China and move stone by stone to Montreal in 1990.

As we approached the massive gate, it was locked. I panicked, ready to demand entry after driving 400 miles from another country to see this. Robert calmly, like an Oriental sage himself, treated the situation as if it were a koan, a riddle to be entered until its very assumptions shifted.

He began to walk the outer walls of the Garden. It seemed insurmountable. I was frustrated. He kept walking slowly along the high wall. Since the Garden stretched for acres, I wondered if we would have to walk its entire perimeter. The thought made me cranky. He kept strolling.

Suddenly, when we had walked farther than was originally in our view, the walls disappeared. It turned out that the Garden had no walls, save for the facade at its entrance. So we simply walked through the open grass to a path that welcomed us.

How many thresholds that seem blocked or barred or locked only seem so from their initial viewing? How many opportunities for true living are barrier-free, if we can only remove ourselves and our minds from their traditional points of entry?

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