Couch surfing has begun and I have found myself on my old red couch in another city, where it now lives in the Spare Room of one of the offspring. I bought new couches in the last six months of my love’s life to make sure we had plenty of spaces for family to lie, rest, sleep, recover in the dying days that the house was hosting. Now I get to sleep on one of them again as pilgrim life unfolds. The red couches are plump, inviting and know how to be steady to receive. I am grateful to my past self for buying them and seeing them in their new surrounds and making good use of them.
There is a lot to be said for reclining. The famous reclining Buddha statues around the world are a sign of compassion, acceptance of death being nigh and the body is no longer needed. In the moments of deep tiredness I have felt this week, taking a reclining position at the end of the week on the red couch has its own poetry. I am tired and there is one last sprint to come this week to finalise preparations to go away, move what’s left of my possessions into storage, pack my bag and go walking and holidays.
To recline is to lean back, and in this day and age, where leaning in is a mantra, I am enjoying playing with this idea of leaning back! The dictionary tells me the word comes from the Old French recliner or Latin reclinare ‘bend back, recline’, from re- ‘back’ + clinare ‘to bend’. This is not a going backwards kind of bend, but a bend that you do again and again to focus, to reflect and to let inanimate items take the weight of the body from the earth, to hold it in some kind of suspension, while restoration takes place, or even perhaps transformation. Like every night’s rest where we recline, we bend back into our beds, and return to the dark, and while our eyes are shut all kinds of renewal take place. Clarity often arrives after leaning back.
Time of the red couch awake, and asleep, enables sparks to rise up from old embers and memories I don’t want to hold come with them. The sleep I long for doesn’t always come, but the reclining remains and continues to be an invitation to rest. I am looking to the serene face of one who knows how to recline and lean back into mortality allowing sparks to come and sparks to go. Lying back, sinking into the red couch which is both cause and effect of some of my broken heart. Rumi says you have to keep breaking your heart until it is open and I wonder how much more breaking is even possible and what corners of my heart are still aching to be open? Reclining, is hinting to me, that there maybe more to be done by leaning back than leaning in.