Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The bear and the bunny

Once there was and was not a bear who was quick and funny and somewhat afraid of standing still. Bear loved to run and climb and splash in cold mountain streams. He was strong and fast and when he found other bears, he was equally happy competing or playing. Bear loved everything that allowed him to keep moving.

He didn't love standing still. Every fall, he put off hibernation until the last possible day. Every spring, he burst back into the world, full of energy and didn't stop moving till fall.

Bear loved to watch things moving that were even faster and stronger than he was. He watched eagles soar overhead and wished for wings. He moved along the shore, watching the whales and listening to their songs and he wished he could swim so far and so deep. He watched deer and admired their grace and endurance. As fast as he was and as strong as he was, Bear loved all things that were even faster or even stronger.

Even Bear had to stop to catch his breath sometimes. One day he had been testing himself, pushing himself to move faster than ever. He ran until he could not breathe, and then he stopped. Almost all his energy and focus turned to recovering as quickly as possible so he could run again. Almost all.

Some tiny fraction of his awareness was alert to the clearing around him. From the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of silver. It was moving quickly along the ground. He turned his head and looked more closely. As he did, Bunny stopped moving. The flash of silver became a small, solid, sleek grey bunny, so still it could have been carved from soft grey stone. Bunny was so still that he could see the shadow of her eyelashes and even the shadow did not move.

Bear discovered that his heart was no longer racing. It was beating comfortably, quietly in his chest. He began to notice that the restless movement that was part of his every waking moment was quieter, gentler. After a time, his eyes still on the bunny, he was absolutely still.

Bear was so curious about being still that he almost started to move again! His mind raced through his body, noticing how it felt to be still. For the first time, he let the slowness and balance in his body pull his mind to a new balance. Bunny looked into his eyes. Bear stopped.

Bear stopped moving. He stopped rushing. He stopped thinking. He just stopped. Part of him thought it was funny that a little grey bunny could stop a big brown bear. But he stopped anyway.

And then he held very still as Bunny moved, slowly, without fear and without hurry. Bunny moved toward him. And Bear was so still he even held his breath.

Bunny stopped a foot or two away. He looked down and she looked up. He watched her take a deep slow breath and as she let it out, he breathed with her. For a moment that felt like forever, Bear and Bunny looked at each other.

And so it began.

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