This morning I sent a get-well note to Frances Crowe, a 90-something peace activist of long standing. I had heard that she had had a brush with pneumonia and wanted to wish her well.
This afternoon, she wrote back saying that she was convinced the pneumonia got at her because of the tumult in the world -- Japan and the outbursts of war in north Africa and the Middle East. But after meeting with Malalai Joya, an Afghan peace activist, she said she had found her "center" again and guessed that I would know how important that was.
The center. To be centered.
It reminded me of an old give-and-take in Zen:
Student: What is the Middle Way?And I think it is the same with the center and being centered. No one could search out the center of their lives, however consoling it is or might sound or be. The center could only refer to the perimeter or the circumference or the off-center points. As an encouragement, maybe it's OK. But it sounds off-center to me to put too much stock in it.
Teacher: It means the extremes.
Here we are, at the beginning and the end of every moment ... you know, the moment that has no beginning and no end. It's not as if we could escape and it's not as if we could get a handle on it. Perhaps we can speak of "the center," but that's just tentative conversation.
The center is better than that, don't you think?