The darkness has not overcome [the light.]
John 1: 5 b
The darkness has not overcome [the light.]
John 1: 5 b
The light shines in the darkness. . .
Autumn is giving us her final wild, brilliant dance. Then she will collapse and rest.
Seeds are blowing. Who knows where? They too will enter a period of rest.
During the rest some things will go dormant.; others will begin to decay. Rest and decay prepare the soil for those waiting seeds and other new growth.
During this time of world turmoil combined with our own personal struggles it is important to find times to rest physically and internally.
I want to remember to stop. I want to take time to enjoy autumn’s artistry and ponder what might need to have its final fling within me – to let it rest or even decay. My desire is to meditate on those hidden seeds that may be blowing
around in me, carrying on their hidden, unidentified life. I hope to notice what I might need to do to prepare my inner soil.
Will you join me? Will you take time to rest and listen even though many other things demand your attention. Come find your autumnal, wild, brilliant dance.
Come dance, prepare and rest.
There are five beautiful, perfect eggs in the blue bird nest now. It’s exciting! Just the thought that there might be babies who live to fledge, that I might get to watch them learning to fly is wonderful!
But I’m blocked. I’m used to getting up and going outside. While waiting for my coffee I take the dog out onto the deck. Or we walk around the yard. We breathe deeply. The dog breathes many places. I like to feel the ground under my feet or at least the deck boards. I like to smell the weather – to get a feel for the day.
Now every time I step out back the blue bird flies off her nest. This is worrisome for me. It has been chilly and damp. I do not want her eggs to get too cold. I don’t know how long it takes for cold and damp to creep into a warm nest enclosed in a box. Presumably it would take a while. I’m uncertain.
So, I haven’t been going out that way. I miss it. I would have liked to take photos of the emerging changes in the plant life. I would have enjoyed sitting on the deck and reading on the few balmy days there have been. But no. I won’t.
Several weeks ago “practicing spring” was feeding me. My soul was joyful and hopeful. Practicing spring had a locus. My back yard was a place of retreat and growth. Now I’m blocked from that practice.
Sure, I can and do go out front. I don’t relax and linger in my house coat the way I would in the back yard though. It’s not comfortable to think the neighbors are watching. I know they are. There’s concrete evidence. I don’t much care if they see me, but it’s a different experience than solitary contemplation in a place of peace.
Sure, I can and do explore the neighborhood park and watch the growth and the wild things there. It’s a wonderful thing. Yet it requires preparation: eating first (there’s that low blood sugar thing) and dressing appropriately. Good shoes are a good idea. One must already know what the day is like before walking that far. One can’t be stepping out merely to test the day. By the time I get to the park I’m not just beginning my day. The day has already started.
Sure, I can and do watch developments out our lovely French doors. But being behind glass just isn’t the same. I can’t feel and smell the life on the other side.
So what do we do when something blocks our practice? When it just isn’t the same?
It’s time to feel sad—to acknowledge that I miss it. It’s time to look around for new opportunities. What new thing is drawing me? What else does or can touch my soul in an inviting, joyful way—can evoke praise and gratitude without effort? Perhaps such an impulse of joy and gratitude is unsustainable? I don’t know.
I haven’t found the new thing yet. I have to keep looking. That’s the thing right now: Keep looking.
Nevertheless, the rain keeps raining and the sun keeps shining. Day and night, springtime and harvest in their season still come and go. All manner of things will be well, even if they’re different and unsought.
And . . .there is still hope for fledglings. What a gift that would be!
I’m finished with Winter. Seriously, it can be Spring now. Winter is fine as long as it stays outside of me. I can enjoy a snow-covered scene. I can revel in a cozy fire, book and cup of tea. A tete-a-tete with a friend can be one of the treasures of life. But I’m done now.
I’m more than ready for the cloud cover and cold to move on. If I’m not careful the clouds and cold will move inside – into me. I have the feeling that if I’m not careful, Winter may take up residence in my bones. I fear I may become as dried up as the bare branches of the tree outside my window. Except I’m not showing a hint of bud.
So what does one do? Life and responsibility call. It’s not feasible to hibernate until April. How shall I push through to the sunshine and new growth of Spring?
Just a couple of days ago I was thinking of sinking into my gray feelings and refusing to come out for a long, long time, and woe to the person who tried to interfere with that plan. And then an idea presented itself as part of the blanket I would wrap myself in. I “rediscovered” music. I remembered an old, favorite CD and put it on. Before I knew it my feelings had turned from dark gray, lightening to a blue and eventually shifted to green. I became more lighthearted and moved into a place of interior gratitude. What a transformation!
Such times are when having noticed the things that feed your soul can be a life-saver. Listen to music. Get a new coloring book. Do something creative. Visit a public garden or buy a new plant. Just a visit to the local garden center may be enough. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Go out for coffee. Light a candle. Pray. Turn off the news. It may be time to shift to a new practice or return to an old one that brought light in the past. It may be time to ask for help. Whatever it is, engage in something that is life-giving for you.
What lifts your heart? What helps you make the shift from grumpy retreat to gratitude?
I invite you to notice. What season are you feeling? What are the gifts of that season? What are the things or times that pull you into grayness? What are the things which draw you toward the light? Bring these things into your awareness, action and prayer.
What do you need to let die so a new seed may sprout?
Visio divina, Latin for “divine seeing,” invites one to be drawn into the holy
So, it’s the end of January. How are you doing with those New Year’s Resolutions?
If you’ve already left them behind or are planning to “forget” them soon, here is an alternative suggestion. Choose a word for the year—a word such as grace, trust, joy, discipline or intention. Watch for how it is at work in your life this year. Notice when it is needed. See when you can be the messenger who brings it. From time to time reflect on the word in your journaling. Use it in your art or meditation.
Less daunting than doing something you’ve never been able to do consistently, it is just a word. But words have power. There is also power in noticing and being intentional. Remembering a simple word for the year doesn’t seem impossible but it could impact your whole year.
How do you choose this word? Has a word been floating around in the back of your mind as you’ve read this? That might be the one. Is there something that keeps coming up recently? Is there something you’ve been wanting to spend more time with? Or is there something that appeals to you? If you just can’t decide, wait a few days. Sit in silence and see what comes up. Pray about it. If you have the question, “Is this my word?” choose it. It’s really up to you to decide what seems inviting. There are no rules. You may change it if something else comes up later which demands your attention.
Now that you have your word, find a way to remember it. Journal. Do some artwork. Post it on your bathroom mirror. Whatever works for you. Consider doing an examen every now and then using the questions: How have I seen __________ at work? When has __________ been absent?
Keep an open heart and mind and see where the Spirit blows. Who knows how __________ may be active in your life this year! Watch to see how this practice serves you on your journey.
With thanks to Jane Bishop Halteman. For more ideas and to learn how she and her friends have used this practice visit her at her blog.