I saw this exquisite Japanese screen painting today, at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The bird reminded me of herons and white egrets that I have seen near to where I live, who can wait – alert – for a long while. They are not in a hurry; they will take their time, until the opportune moment. And without fail, these birds, and thus this painting, remind me of a wonderful passage in Tao Te Ching:
The ancient Masters were profound and subtle. Their wisdom was unfathomable. There is no way to describe it; all we can describe is their appearance. They were careful as someone crossing an iced-over stream. Alert as a warrior in enemy territory. Courteous as a guest. Fluid as melting ice. Shapable as a block of wood. Receptive as a valley. Clear as a glass of water. Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself? The Master doesn't seek fulfilment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present, and can welcome all things.
(No 15. Stephen Mitchell’s translation)