The Forest of Brambles

Our path carving has continued.  Even on the weekend a good number of selfless souls gave-up their Saturday morning to volunteer.  During the week the pond water boiled with the thrashing of frogs in mating season – webbed feet and slender legs pushing above the surface like synchronised swimmers – as we widened the area for the path by cutting-back and digging-up brambles.

Whenever I work with brambles I’m reminded of a book I have called The Blue Cliff Record – a collection of one hundred Zen verses and commentaries – and I think: I’m still amongst the brambles.  To elaborate on that, in several parts of The Blue Cliff Record it uses brambles as a metaphor for our concerns.

‘…it is not a matter of covering your eyes with your hands and saying “I have no concerns.”  You must penetrate through the barrier, emerge from the forest of brambles…’

If you have ever worked with brambles, I think maybe you be able to appreciate this comparison.  It’s as if they’re fighting you, tangling around you, gabbing at your clothes and – god-forbid – any exposed flesh.  Their roots bunch up into huge cores over the years and these need to be teased up and dug-out thoroughly or any tiny remnant will grow back into more large and lush plants.

And this is why I think it works well as a metaphor.  I sometimes feel I have got through a barrier, but then life grows me another.  This said, I feel my bramble barrier is little more that a copse compared with the great forests some of our volunteers and visitors have battled through.  Their bramble taming skills act as a constant inspiration to me – a push that keeps me thrashing through and stops me from covering my eyes.

manamongstthebrambles

 

‘When I call this having no concerns, it is not a matter of covering your eyes with your hands and saying “I have no concerns.”  You must penetrate through the barrier, emerge from the forest of brambles, clean and naked, bare and untrammelled’

 

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