I invite you to visit a farmers’ market this time of year. The abundance flows from the stalls. I fill my bags with local produce even though I know, I mean I KNOW, I won’t get through everything. I am only feeding one person after all. But the fruits and veggies looked so delicious and autumn is underfoot as the first leaves begin to fall. It won’t be much longer and Sweet Sue peaches, Brandywine tomatoes, and Brooks prunes (reminiscent of my childhood) will disappear until next year.
Sunday marks nine weeks since I returned from my spiritual journey, “Sojourning with Grief.” As many weeks returned to this home as I was immersed in my Celtic homeland. I want to write something wise or profound about my growth and insights. And there are many insights spinning in my head and heart. But the truth is I am tired and the threads that I try to hold onto are too thin to be woven into any kind of cohesive tapestry. Instead I am offering a few random thoughts.
My pace was smooth and measured. I matched my breath to my footfalls. Breath—we all breathe the same air. How does air quality not concern us all? In. Out. Toward center—my interior. Questions arise. What is my responsibility? Long stretch of path on the outer edge—my exterior. How do I join with others? And so it went as I considered the resource of air. And then my feet pressed to the ground. Earth. Our forests. And images of my beloved ocean. Water. Air, earth, water. Three of the vital elements for our lives, all our lives, in order to be sustained.
Surrender. Trust. Two words loaded with meaning that based on personal experience can trigger the gamut from deep resistance to relief. In the ebb and flow of my own life I have been able to surrender and trust less often with grace than with a dirty stare and a “I don’t think so…I’ve got this covered” stance.
Most of my friends and co-workers have bid “good riddance" to 2016, even amidst births, memorable vacations, graduations, and other life milestones. Maybe that extra leap day tipped the scales. Maybe it was the election and other turmoil around the globe. I know I felt heaviness both personally and in a community context. My divorce was finalized in February after 33 years of marriage, my mother’s unfolding Alzheimer’s disease increased use of blackout curtains to conceal her memories, and on the 29th of December my pug companion of 15 1/2 years took his last breath.
Ever have a bee buzzing around your ear. You move away concerned it might sting you, only to have it follow. Back and forth, back and forth you tussle until you resign to let it go. Soon, the buzz becomes part of the melody of the day and the fear subsides as you realize the fear of getting stung was greater than the actual risk. Following the path of the bee, listening to the melody was a gift waiting to be accepted. That gift was freedom from the fear.
I shouldn’t be amazed. I’ve participate in and lead enough groups to know that if the table is prepared, the ambience welcoming and I step aside and make room for the Holy, people show up for themselves and each other. Yet once again as I reflect after the Grief and Loss workshop I led, I am in awe of the courage shown by six women to step into the unexplored spaces of their hearts and share with honesty what flows out through their pens.
Sometimes I challenge myself in small ways. For example by turning right instead of left on my walk. (This seems like it would be simple but I am a creature of habit, so have to literally tell myself “turn right!”) I did this the other day and noticed a small dead end street hidden from view when I came from the other direction. And the shrubs, flowers, even the shading of the houses looked different. Same houses, same flowers, same shrubs but a subtle difference in lighting and angles because my way of looking had changed.