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!)
The hummingbird comes and goes as quickly as the moments in our days. If you don’t catch a glimpse of it when it’s here all you can do is hope for another tomorrow. Hummingbird don’t fly away.
Sometimes my days are like the hummingbird, they come and go before I’ve had a chance to stop and enjoy what it had to show me. Today is the beginning of longer days to enjoy, offering us more sunshine, giving us a brighter light to see with, and warm energizing rays beaming down on us giving us the energy we need to enjoy every moment. Soon we’ll be sitting on our porches watching the hummingbirds as they come and singing to each other, Haven’t you noticed the days somehow keep getting longer.
But, don’t let today fly away before you’ve had a chance to see what it has to show you because it is the hummingbird after all who shows us how easy it is to miss the most important moments in our life. Capture it before the hummingbird flies away.
Today we are getting our two huge evergreen trees taken down at the front of our property. When PP&L trimmed them away from the wires this spring they completely hacked them up. When we called them about how upset we were they offered to take them down at no cost to us.
It’s one of those things that you knew you were going to eventually have to do, but we weren’t ready to let go of them yet. They did provide a lot of shade and privacy, plus it’s like losing another part of my Dad & Sue who lived here before us. As I play the pros and cons of it in my head. The pros win out in the end. Let’s face it nothing last forever in this world. There’s this cold stillness of quiet emptiness for a few moments as we stand and look at the open space it leaves behind. Than new life sets in as we give ourselves time to process it. We start to look around and see the possibilities it leaves behind. This has been our home for a while now, and as we’ve made many changes already this is simple another opportunity to place our own mark upon it. Our house is one of the few on this street that sits back away from the road and many people that have driven by say they never even knew there was a house behind the trees. It can be seen a little better beyond the holly trees now. The yard looks much bigger too, but we will probable plant another tree in the middle of the yard to give us back that privacy we like so much though. To be honest I think it will look much better in the long run.
Lesson of the day: Nothing last forever, but life still carries on. We can live in the state of sadness that we can’t change or find new life in the space it opens up for us.