Here's what to watch for:
* The 9th hexagram of the I Ching is sometimes translated as "Passive Restraint," or "Restraint of the Small."
* The image of the hexagram depicts clouds gathering in the west, and the winds of change stirring, but no rain coming.
* The teaching of the hexagram involves the idea that we are helpless before a bigger power that is gathering, or that we cannot force change prior to its appropriate time.
* The teaching of the hexagram also suggests a kind of gentle state of watchfulness, imaged as a sky-watcher, looking upward, seeing the gathering of some future momentum, high above, far removed.
* When ill omens appear in our lives, or when the signs of the times appear darkest, it is as though a powerful force is advancing. We are tempted to react. To take arms. To do something, and fast! And yet, hexagram 9 tells us it is at just this moment that the wisest become very gentle, passive, small, and calm.
* Our curiosity and our calmness are wordless statements: all power, all action, and all results are directed by something I can only pretend to understand.
* What does this moment want from me? How can my actions, my thoughts, and my response find its right place? How might I serve this divine force?
* These aren't grand gestures on the altar. They aren't proud statements read aloud, to be enforced, followed with the measuring sticks of spiritual progress, they are the wordless truths of the watcher. The one who sees the signs of the time, and with a confident soul, becomes small and gentle.
* Hexagram 9 is sometimes called "small nurturance," and it also has the connotation of a small child or a baby's innocence, a doe-like calmness paired with ready ears.
* Do not grope, push, or pull when you sense that change is near, when nearing completion, or else miss the real gift, which is never WHAT is given, but rather the manner in which it is given. Behind that manner, or within, and surrounding it, there is a halo of invisible light, which we can only see if we become small and we remain alert.
* The gift of this vision is the return to right relationship.
* The second line of the 9th hexagram reads, "He allows himself to be drawn into returning. Good fortune."
* We can so easily get lost in an eager or anxious response. But here, if we remain passively restrained, if we find that small nurturance, that modest listening and trust, we are saved from a false start, we are saved from rushing in.
* The darkness we see in the sky above, the world around, becomes an overpowering enemy when we allow it to send us into fight or flight mode. On the other hand, when we remain passive, gentle, and observant. When we stay caring and careful. Curious. Then the same accumulated power we see above is transferred to us within. We become the benefactors of a heavy grace, the inheritors of mysterious mercy.
* In this morning's reading, hexagram 9 changes into hexagram 52...the mountain...an image of stillness, silence, and inactivity.
* In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that the wise see action in inaction and inaction in action.
Prayer: May we be wise, curious, and child-like in the face of gathering clouds, dark omens, confusion, and uncertainty. May we remain cautious, small, and ready during times of great change. Remind us that we are waiting and watching for you, in all things, at all times, so that we might return to the only word of truth that unites us all when we see straight through the gathering storm clouds: Alleluia.