I love old Zen fables and I was reminded of one this weekend. I had to recall the story of the overflowing tea cup as I spent some time in the “dog kennel room.” (For those of you who might not know the story, I have copied a very short version at the bottom of the post.)
I have been calling our third bedroom “the dog kennel room” since March 17, 2008 when I resolutely stopped calling it the nursery. I was wholly unprepared to have a miscarriage and I handled it in my way which was to grieve intensely for a short time then to lock the whole thing away. Out of sight, out of mind… sort of. So the dog kennels were placed in front of the boxed up baby furniture we lovingly chose and I left the kennels there for well over a year. I also started piling things in that room. Need a place for clothing waiting to be taken to Good.will? The padded glider seems the perfect spot. Too lazy to put the Christmas decorations in the attic? I’ve got the perfect spot. And on and on my process continued until the room was hardly recognizable as the room I once held in such high regard. I also kept the door closed. all.the.time. The metaphor is almost silly but it is so true.
However, this weekend I had to venture into the closet of the 3rd bedroom to find the ceiling paint and I had the “aha” moment. The room no longer holds overwhelming emotion for me. So I decided that I needed to make some space so that something new can fill it (namely a baby). I began cleaning. Decorations went into the attic. Trash was bagged up. Gently used items were offered new homes. I vacuumed and dusted and I hummed a happy song. The space feels lighter and I feel more free. I am even planning to paint with the lovely classic po.oh colors I chose long ago. The door is thrown open. Okay baby(ies), physically and emotionally, I am ready for you now!
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – –
A Cup of Tea
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era, received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”