What a beautiful day. I sat on the deck this morning. As I quiet myself for my devotional time, I hear the various birds chirping from every direction. I realize how much I take them for granted. I hear them everyday, but not really hearing them at all most of the time. Today though, it sounded like music, setting the tone of my daily ritual.
Taking in more of natures gifts, I smell the lavender in my garden, adding to my relaxing peaceful moment. Than I take notice of my curly willow tree and how fast it’s grown in just a few years. It looks like messy head of hair all knotted and tangled. The real beauty of this tree lies beneath its leaves. I don’t care that it’s not the greatest looking tree. It provides the privacy we want, and I know the beauty that lies beneath the leaves. A work of art to look forward to in the dead of winter. I’m reminded of how nature always has a way of teaching us the lessons of life.
I did my daily reading, prayer and meditation. However, nothing spoke as profoundly to me as being in the moment among Gods creations giving all I heard, saw and smelled the recognition each deserves. And I am left with a sense grace and gratitude.
Photo from Picsbud.com
It’s that time of year when birds build their nest tend to their new families with great devotion than suddenly push the matured baby’s out of the nest. How does it know to fly or where to find food and shelter?
Its also the time of year when graduations take place and parents begin their own process of letting go.
No one ever told me how hard it was going to be. Its almost like going through the stages of grief. If you think about it, that makes sense because it is the end of a way of life for both child & parent.
How wonderful nature is in teaching us the process of letting go. How could a bird every learn to fly it didn’t take that first leap? And what if the parents held them back protecting them from all the things that could go wrong?
How will they ever learn if we don’t let go? Its the one time in your life when you feel the most determination to hang on but in the end its the most courageous thing you can do to teach them how to fly on their own.
Today I went back to place I lived in Philadelphia. I haven’t seen since the day I ran away in 1968. That’s 50 years ago. It was an institution in Philadelphia called Stenton Child Center. My younger sister and I were supposed to feel fortunate that we were in such a nice place. Most of the places the state provided for abandon children were pretty run down. There is no place on earth that could be better than being with your own family no matter how difficult things are at home.
I didn’t know how I would react when I actually saw it. As we began to approach I felt only a moment panic, that quickly turned to curiosity. I couldn’t believe how much it looked the same after all these years. The memories so fresh in my mind and stories yet to tell. I couldn’t go inside because it’s now a shelter for homeless families, but I was okay with that because I felt like the monster it represented in my mind for so many years no longer had a hold on me.
On my way home I wondered about how this applies to what I wrote about yesterday in relation to place of shifting I find myself. Of all the different places I’ve been, this was by far the worst ground I’d ever worked in my life. But it’s also yielded the most growth in my life. It was a time of planting, growing, and nurturing. It was full of many cultivating opportunities that could have yielded many weeds, but instead continues to teach and bear much fruit.
I am not only in the winter of the season, but nature teaches another lesson in my life, that I am in the winter of my shifting cultivation. A time to rest, re-evaluate, contemplate, let go and chill out on a icebergs going with the rivers flow.
There’s something happening in me, and what it is, I can’t exactly see.
Something has shifted, and I’m not even sure what that means. Trying to make some sense of it I look up the word shifting. I’ve been through different stages, and on many different journeys in life, but this shifting feels unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Maybe I just never noticed it to this degree before.
Shifting means changing, especially unpredictably. That verifies the unpredictably change I’m experiencing, but I still don’t get what’s going on. I dig a little deeper into my research on the subject and I come across a diagram called “shifting cultivation.” No, that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for something that has to do with the human psyche. But, the idea of the shifting cultivation keeps pulling me into it’s explanation, and that Aha, moment hits me. The simplicity of nature at work again giving the answer through her example.
Photo from Shifting Cultivation-SignWiki
I am the cultivator of my life. I understand that now. I’ve been feeling a need for change for quite a while. I knew it was time for letting go, but of what I wasn’t sure. I mean being on familiar ground seems like the safest place to stay at least until we know where we’re going. All that time trying to work the same way I’d always done wasn’t producing anything worth giving away. So, the shifting happened abruptly, and left me with a feeling of being lost. Now that I can see, what’s happening to me, a whole new horizon of possibilities comes into view. It takes time to work new grounds taking a small section at a time. If you’d like to follow along with me I’ll share what my cultivating grows.
Sometimes life becomes as twisted as a vine. The tighter it wraps itself around one circumstance after the other it becomes hard to breath. Hard to understand. Hard to think. The desperation to reach and cling, and climb brings us to a standstill. In this place of resting we find the breath of life, and clarity begins to set in. We quench our thirst from a drop of the ocean, and we begin to see that we are a part of something much bigger then ourselves. We begin to feel the need for expression going deeper within where we feed on the nourishment we’ve collected along the way. In the process, we become a bud growing within instead of out. The need to express what we are becoming grows ever stronger until in the mist of all our twisted vines what we were created to be burst forth in all our beauty and glory.
We can become who we were created to be if we stop twisting ourselves up knots. If we stop fighting against ourselves and others. If we stop to listen to the voice…not calling in the wind…but the one that comes from within longing to be expressed through…you…and…me.
“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.” -Gordon B. Hinckley
I got home yesterday from my week of writing in the Poconos. It was wonderful in every way. To top it off I got a lot writing and soul searching done. I think the best thing I came away with was a new understanding of the gift I have now because of the years of cultivating I’ve already done. What I’ve come to realize is that it hasn’t just been my inner child’s need to be validated for the part she played it in making our dream come true. It goes much deeper and beyond that. It’s been her driving forces to tell our story that has made me a better writer. This has given me the opportunity to do what I have a real passion for and that’s inspiring others with my words.
As I was talking with one of the many accomplished writers there, I began to wonder what I’m doing here. The old saboteur started showing its defeating face. I could feel myself getting sucked into the belief that I was an amateur and I always would be. Then this writer started telling me about how he likes to garden and sometimes he just has to go out in his garden and start doing some composting. As you begin to pull this and that out of yourself all the good and bad stuff gets thrown together. Then you let it sit for a while. When you’re ready you start to turn and mix it up, and eventually it becomes the fertilizer that feeds the story’s you sow.
As the quote says above, I’ve learned too that without a lot of hard work, nothing grows but weeds. I think I’ve managed to grow a few beautiful flowers along the way. Now all I have to do is keep pulling the weeds that get in the way.
At the end of the mini series “Genius,” Einstein is dying, and as his long time secretary looks at him with sadness, he takes a flower from an arrangement and holding it in his hand says, “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”
I looked at Tom with a childlike excitement, and said, “I learned that all by myself!”
Just a few simple lines, and yet they hold within them a great awakening, opening up a whole new world for us. You don’t even have to be a genius to discover it yoursełf. It reminds me of when my father-in-law had his cataract surgery. He said he could see things with such clarity and crispness, and the colors were so vivid. When our own blinders are stripped away we can also say, ” I can see clearly now.”
For the 3rd time I’m pulling out these entangled vines in my garden. Every time I think I have all the thick twisted vines pulled, a week or so later they find their way back to the top of the soil. As I stand looking at their fresh green heads poking through the soil I can almost hear them laughing at me, as they say in their wee taunting voice, “we’re back!” I dig deeper with more determination to get to the source of each plant. Hum! I think to myself. There’s something awful familiar about what’s happening here besides the mere fact that I’m pulling these vines out again.
“Okay God, what are you trying to show here?” I say to myself
I’ve been doing the same thing in my own life pulling out the stuff I don’t want anymore, pulling out what isn’t good for me, and pulling out what no longer has a purpose. I do feel much lighter in many ways, but the vines from all that stuff is deeply rooted and intertwined so even when I think I’ve pulled it all, it finds a way back into my life, temping me and trying to sabotage all my efforts. Pulling out the entangled vines feels as if it has a hold of me. It doesn’t want to let go of it.
“What am doing wrong God?”
“It isn’t the vine that has a hold on you. It’s you who won’t let go of the vine.”
Woo! I didn’t see that one coming!
To be mindful one must quiet the mind long enough to see what’s in front of them. I was told recently that I think too much. I’ve been told that before. So, in the process of trying not to think too much I turn to my thoughts for ideas on how to not think so much. Ha-ha! I know, right about now you’re probable wondering what the heck has Connie’s been smoking. It’s true! I do think a lot, but it’s who I am and to be honest I “think” it’s the one thing I like most about myself. I have a curious mind, and I think deeply about things if you haven’t guessed that already. But the mind needs to be tamed, same as everything else in our life. We have to find a balance. In order for me to do that I first have to find a way to quiet all the chatter going on inside my head. Meditation doesn’t come easy for one who thinks too much, but it’s the very thing I need to clear the pathway of my many thoughts. So, I’m sitting on my deck enjoying this bright sunny day and my eyes are drawn to the blue skies. White puffy clouds drift slowly, reminding me of the gentle peaceful flow of life I long to be in. I watch, focusing my attention only on the movement of the clouds letting my thoughts drift past them as they come. As I watch the clouds it’s as if I begin to move right along with them only in the movement there is stillness. Between the moments of stillness comes change as the cloud becomes a dolphin that turns into a shark. Then a dragon spewing fire from its mouth, that becomes an elephant, and an angel with a trumpet. As the cloud begins to disperse it looks like a scruffy dog, and I chuckle at the words to a song that comes to mind, “Lucy in the sky with diamonds,” it’s my Lucy dog.
Being the deep thinker I am I can’t help but wonder what the significance of these characters might mean. So, for the fun of it I look up the symbolisms for each. There are all kinds of meanings and explanations for just about anything you picture or envision. Who knew? I didn’t! So, I wrote down what resonated with me. I was amazed at how it all came together. Pretty cool!
Dolphin-is an emblem of living our true purpose in the creative since, and using it to contribute to the better good of all. The Dolphin reminds us to enjoy the moment for this moment will never pass this way again, every moment is precious. (Wow!)
Shark-when a shark enters your life it portends a time of fearlessly facing those things or people who hold you back. (Hum!)
Fire dragon-teaches you to roar finding your voice, being heard and truly understood. (Yes!)
Elephant– when an elephant comes to you the message is typically one of connectedness. (For me it reaffirms the connectedness of my oneness with God.)
Angel-Seeing angels in the clouds indicates that spiritual insights and guidance are in the offing. Pay extra attention to your intuition and insights. (Great confirmation)
Dog-a dog in the clouds suggests the company of loyal friends and faithful companions. (Which I love!)