When fear tightens its grip,
“What would someone do if
they loved themself?”
Now do that.
Don’t shutter the windows ,
don’t turn the deadbolt just yet while hope survives—
just not inside of you.
One minute past giving up, calling it quits
while you believe as you do because of those that hurt you—
you, the stranger, who has extended so much mercy in your life.
Kindness is not dead even if you believe it true.
You are due, owed your time, ripe for the plucking.
And your story may be much different than you picture it now
as you stand upon the narrow ledge of your own aching heart
thinking no one sees
or worse, cares.
Mercy and kindness travel in pairs on the bus of surprise—that
is how they operate.
You never see them coming until they arrive.
And what if you have locked all the doors to your heart,
how shall they enter?
All the while they’ve been looking for you while you slump pale and cold,
buttressed behind the deadbolt and shuttered window.
This troupe, this Calvary of strangers who arrive most unexpectedly
to see you through the next minute or the rest of your life
here to restore your faith in you, how okay you really are.
You never quite know where and when they will appear,
who or what will waltz or breeze through your door with arms
full of what you need
or run into your burning house
with buckets of water to save you.
So go on, turn out the lights and go to bed.
but this I beg of you,
just be sure to leave the door open a crack
for possibility, please.
Photo and poem by S. (Sawyer) Wolfington
It is, on this rainy gray day, I meditate on gratitude. In this bleak opaqueness, it is easy to notice only that, especially after too many long seasons of unchanging gray. It is easy to feel drained of hope for anything better to come.
Yet in a simple meditative state, how wonder-filled the breadth and wholeness of life as it shows up in all its many colors…a gentle reminder back towards my own fierce life force.
Gratitude appearing as a sliver of light on the horizon–my senses tell me as I watch its arrival. It’s Love calling home, coming to find me. Not that I was ever for a second lost to it. Support arriving–beyond circumstance and suffering, of which there is plenty.
My senses inform me, tell me of it in creatively innate ways. In touch of hot and cold, skin and touch, a stroke of kindness or endearment.
I breathe in aromas of love cooking in the oven or the familiar aura of another, the smell or warning of danger, of jasmine in spring.
I witness love in the eyes of a friend, blossoming pink Dogwoods flowers or brilliant white, ship like clouds sailing upon a blue sea sky. I see where love is not felt. I say a prayer or extend a hand.
And on it goes.
Our natural senses are a gateway to the Universe when open.
And nothing good in being alive is so small as to not be noticed and full of wonder at.
We stand here at the apex of everything that has arrived in life before us so as to support us… from the Void or God or Source of all wonder to the Big Bang to stars and their trails through the universe(s) to Mother Gaia, earthquakes, fire, shifting lands. From one cell beings and the creative evolution of our bodies through eons or a single lifetime.
We are here to expand and breathe, feel pain and grow into Love, live and die and change into something else or more.
I hear, sense, touch, see, feel, and I’m alive; and in this moment or moments to come, all is well with my soul, and I’m alive past pain or suffering or complaint or whatever life throws my way.
I am not here to rejoice in the suffering of another, but to support because I have been supported.
Love is creative in its unfathomable myriad of expression, and often arrives in surprise or gift. It will show you how and the way.
Crack open the gate of resistence.. Raise your expectation just a smidge. Find life in the moment in the sidewalk flower growing from its fissures and breaks. Notice things for five minutes.
You and I are here to make a difference, to stand for kindness and the ferocity of Love in the darkest of time or place where love has not been felt or seen…
even within ourselves.
I want to know if you have those days, weeks or months where you retreat in order to retrieve your energy or an answer?
When things or circumstances don’t seem fully manageable?
When renewal is only possible through rest of the mind, soul and body just to gain a bit of strength for the journey ahead?
Yes, I’d like to know.
Well, thank you for asking.
I like to talk to the tree people, listen to the flower folks—
they like to talk back.
I like to get real close to their mouths and be still—they talk in whispers, you know.
A camera, too, helps me to translate when the light is just right.
They get into my heart and do all their best work there.
I may not say much to you because I’m too busy listening.
Talk can be cheap on these days—
when all I can think about is how I’d rather open my heart,
fling my arms toward the sky and be ready for any bright word that might come my way.
I stumbled across this faded photo again tonight. A boyfriend and dear friend of so many years and I in front of the fireplace. I didn’t know then how time would pass so fast. There was so much life in front of me. I didn’t know how we would lose one another while we were busy making other plans. How years of illness or homelessness or death and marriages and so many other things would descend upon one or the other of us. I didn’t know how you can lose touch with someone you swore you could never lose.
These days, however, my intuition is stronger than ever. I’m learning the wisdom in living life with a heart that is willing to open to loss or joy or confusion. I’m learning that life with an open heart requires much wisdom. Wisdom–a bit of hardwon gain in exchange for oh so many losses. In that, I’m lucky. Wisdom is partly listening to intuition, that still small voice that says, go here, turn there, you’re okay. Wisdom is also partly resilience, learning how to bounce back from tragedy, how it’s okay to grieve or cry, how to let go of what fails to serve our life or the greater good any longer.
Too many people refuse the necessary changes that get you to wisdom. Wisdom requires boundaries in this world. Boundaries that are necessary for protection of your beautiful heart, for letting go of suffering, for not allowing the entire world, or even a smidgeon of it to take your heart hostage. Your heart is your own. You get to choose whom you share it with, whom and what you open it to. You must treat it well.
Change is inevitable. We are designed for it. We are not meant to hold on to anything too tightly, for in the tightness of our grip, we create suffering.
To be sure, life has a funny way of landing you in the most unexpected places. You never know where that might be or what will happen along the way. but I’m learning to live the questions, as poet Ranier Maria Rilke said to his young protégé. And as in all things, life is an inside job.
I believe it is ours to come into this life to learn how to lessen not only our own suffering but then the suffering of others, as well. Kindness helps, starting with you. But it can take many years to learn that. You are very fortunate, indeed, if you have discovered it and become infinitely and patiently kind with yourself while you learn the special kind of braille that is required to navigate your way through the darkness: Indeed, it is the first step towards living a few answers.
“Wholeness does not mean perfection. It means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.”
– Parker J. Palmer –
It’s messy, and its
imperfection is a virtue of living in this body.
It means we are here for the human experience
in every imaginable facet, in all its
anguish and glory. Yet not necessarily
all at once, although it can feel like it sometimes.
Quit trying to airbrush your imperfections away.
—they keep you real and learning.
They have the ability to heal your soul and ground your body.
Forgive yourself. Embrace what hurts—be infinitely kind to it
while you wait for healing.
As often as possible, be in the feral world of nature where nothing
pretends to be anything other than what it is—broken or beautiful.
Unfurl your life, bent wings and everything.
Learn to inhabit yourself—dig your toes into the soil now
and then as a reminder you are part of it.
You are already gorgeous with your shriveled petals, your funny ways,
your insecurities, and your
crazy ideas that just might save the world.
And then there’s this, a moment to unplug…splendid, mind-boggling, joy giving beauty just waiting for you to notice. A moment so transitory in nature, we often miss it, opting instead for stress and worry, in a hurry to get things done.
Stop for a moment and receive what’s freely given you–and opportunity to take in the quiet miracles all around you, an opportunity to open your heart just a little more to each one.
Soon enough in those quiet moments of recognizing and receiving, your heart will soften towards noticing. It will become the very thing it is underneath the pain and trauma you carry in your life and body–an open door to joy.
Having a good soak in the mud right now, but just want to say thank you for all the bright bouquets of beautiful flowers you’ve sent to me while here.
They make sense of everything.
How beautiful to commit just one day to not speaking about that which disturbs, disrupts,
brings unnecessary pain to ourselves or another,
to dwell in and listen to the silence of our own deeper nature,
to be attuned to and see from the heart
rather than racing to reply or judge or manipulate.
How beautiful to allow and make space for one magnificent day of your life just as it is!
Today might be a very good day.
Before becoming a butterfly–you have to let life bury you inside its chrysalis.
You have to turn into mushy goo. You have to lose all resemblance to your former self.
You have to get uncomfortable. You have to let go of old ways. You have to learn a whole new way of being yourself.
Not everyone is willing.
Yet the secret is that the earth needs caterpillars as much as butterflies! And caterpillars aspiring towards butterflyhood…
…and all the things you might not think it needs for reasons you probably can’t begin to imagine.
The earth looks vastly different from the ground than the air. And we need the ground and air both the same.
So if you’ve made it to butterfly stage, keep talking anyway. You survived this far when you didn’t think you were going to make it.
Keep talking love to the world. Say how it is from up there, from the trees and bright blue of the day. Some will get it, some won’t. Either way, it’s okay.
You never know who might be listening.
Today we start the rest of our lives. It’s official.
On this day, January 20, 2017, President Obama has left the White House and a new President takes his place—for better or worse. I have my own ideas about what he might or might not do while seated in the Oval Office. I am sure you do, too. All eyes of the planet are watching to see what is going to happen. A man comfortable enough with his own authority is now taking his place in a seat that is powerful enough to make or break this barely visible blue planet–a planet that spins in the backwaters of an incomprehensibly vast pinwheel of stars. Think about that for a moment.
And it is a man who, no matter what side of the fence you’re on, has repeatedly, and with a very long stick, poked the tiger of our fears since announcing his candidacy for President of the United States. Poke, then stir and repeat. This has been the methodology for his brand of success over the years, it would seem.
However long the life span remaining for each of us here on a breathtakingly small speck of universal life, there has never been such a time as this between technology and the ability to create or destroy. I believe actions for better or worse are felt as a rippling waves throughout the fabric of all of life itself, wherever it is or whatever form. Everything is connected.
Though widely attributed to being a Chinese curse, the saying “may you live in interesting times” may be deduced from analysis of the late-19th century speeches of Englishman, Joseph Chamberlain and erroneously expounded upon by his son, Austen Chamberlain. However it came about, we are here right now, in the boiling cauldron of interesting times. [i] Interesting times are signals that something is about to change. In fact, it is pretty much a guarantee–and you play a part in it whether you choose to or not.
Interesting times are created for thinking people just like you and me. Now, what are you going to decide to do with your place in it? Remember, if you choose to distract yourself in habituation, hoping to maintain the status quo away from uncomfortable feelings or the work of change, you’ve decided.
Most critical is the decision to give up any complacency you may be in possession of about your own life, and over your place here as a citizen of the earth, and over the gifts and talents lying within you. And you do have certain gifts and talents even if they have become undervalued, dormant or gone underground.
Because as you may or may not know, our gifts and talents, no matter our personal idea of them, were given to us so that we could give them away. They are meant for service and for the betterment of yourself and the betterment of mankind. They are intended so that you will be able to better know exactly what and where the passion is in you to go out and serve–and with the proper tools innately and proportionately exact to you.
But sometimes you’ve got to start digging to uncover them before you can utilize them. I have some ideas about how you might begin the process and will write more about that very soon, because now is the time you are really going to need to rely on those beautiful parts of yourself. They are what will save you on more levels you can know in the present moment, and might even positively contribute to life on Planet Earth.
Collectively, we are powerful! This I know. Individually, you might not have not given yourself enough credit for surviving until now.
Desperately seeking change, whether realizing it or not on a conscious level, this is the time that the people of Planet Earth through their most heartfelt and fervent desire have collectively moved heaven and earth to effect change away from the prevailing system and towards a more healing one that WE get to create as we go. We have put people, point men or women, if you will, in place around the world who are sufficiently capable of taking a sledgehammer to our most cherished fears in order to exquisitely tear them down.
The time has arrived. We stand on the precipice of fear and change. What is our future going to look like? Right now it is a big question mark. Question marks in life are doorways to limiting probabilities or countless possibilities. What will we be? It is ours to choose for better or worse individually and collectively. We have an amazing opportunity. We get to make up the rules for continued life on this mother ship upon whose back we reside—much like the rules that were made up for us in preceding generations.
We live in times meant for the unseating of dominance of one over another, of our fears over love; and whether we’ll be pushed by our fears or pulled by love and courage.
This is the part where we now get to save ourselves! Ultimately, no governing body can do it for us. It’s going to take some true grit and a lot of courage.
Time to get busy! Dig where you are. Ask for help. Reach out. Network. Power lies in strength of community. Choose to be a force for good where can you do the most good for the most people.
Your uncovered and passionate heart bent on love in service over fear will show you the way through.
The beautiful wild calls to me more and more. Days and years pass, and I am moving closer to death now that I am in the last third of my life. Being here now, I feel done with so much focusing on the logical minutia of my days. It’s easier than when I was thirty or forty in a way. This minutia feels stale as I move towards lightening the agendas others have for me, the ones I have of myself, the tyranny of the urgent cracking its whip over me to move faster, work harder, accomplish more. I am ready to become a human being now rather than a human doing. My commodity is not valued in how much I can accomplish but in realizing my mystery, to be tenderly compassionate towards all that I have deemed as less than perfect within and around me.
This is what makes perfect sense to me now, the alchemical weaving and blending of logos and mythos together into a substance that becomes far more valuable than either alone. Gold, if you will. I have spent the better part of a lifetime mostly doing one or the other, furiously scurrying around to accomplish whatever long to-do list I had in order to be able to live in the mystery. As if I had to earn the right to lie on my back in the grass and gaze at shape shifting clouds or put my pen to the page when the first lines of a poem slipped in to my awareness or try my hand at putting some color on the canvass—or merely to take a much needed nap.
What makes sense now is living on purpose, living with awareness of all that I am doing in each moment, of acceptance wherever I might find myself. Washing dishes turns into an act of grace as I feel the warm water running over my hands, handle each fork and cup, happy there are dishes to wash, food to prepare, food at the end of my arm anytime I want it, blessing the earth and each hand that went into its growth and preparation; or paying bills, feeling the abundance of the universe, that I have been graced with a roof over my head, a place to lay my tired body at night.
I am grateful I have what I need when I need it even if it is not always exactly what I think I want.
Today I was counting the last of my former life, the years I have spent in caretaking. I believed it mine to shoulder the atlas as I cared for seriously ill friends and family, along with a serious illness of my own. Counting too many years in the business of living and dying, emergencies, and crisis and drama in the physical, mental and emotional arenas—I am just done.
Now I feel ready to count the stars in the midnight sky, to watch the sailing ships of clouds passing by. I am ready to take long walks, write books, and rise up and up into my one beautiful life before dissolving back down into the primordial soup from which I came.
Yet even in the sad and the bad, the worry, the hurry that has consumed my days, I am utterly grateful. These are gifts of pain I have been graced with. Deep within me lies a dark underworld from which arises a priceless seam of gold, a transmutation of the pain and fear into a precious metal. I couldn’t have fully understood this until more recently. I am multi-dimensional, of the stars and of the earth. In this suit of flesh and bone, lives a being descended from the stars, from the source of life itself. I am meant while I am here to dwell in both myth and logic, to learn equally about both, to learn to weave them into a beautiful tapestry. Everything is purposed in my life to propel me towards the realization of this wisdom…to be heavenly minded while tending to life, to mend that which is broken with my compassion, to seek forgiveness, to forgive, to be a place holder for love, to be in a possession of a heart that has been broken wide open, to become fertile ground where life can grow.
I have not entirely mastered these things yet. It’s okay. It is not mine to completely master. Better to accept my own humanity, my fragility, my missing the mark so many times. This is true wisdom to know there is perfection in failure and fragility. It is part of the dying process, the cycle of life. Everything has to eventually die so that something else can live. At every moment, ten thousand things are dissolving at the same time ten thousand things are arising, taking their turn at form, at life, deciding what they will be, just for the joy and the experience of being in any particular state. For are we not each and every one and everything nuances of the one life that runs through us all, here to learn about life, ourselves, each other?
Grace is continually born out of pain, life arising out of death. Our pain becomes another’s grace as we reach out to touch and comfort. We can do this because we’ve been there, walked through the same fire of suffering. Lives and hearts are made whole from shards of anguish and heartache. Love grows. We’re not alone.
To me, this is what makes perfect sense.
Would you please just sing your song?
It’s just old friends here.
Make every mistake you can.
Please do it wrong.
Your singing will never be good enough for you—
it never has been.
Yet you have a word, a voice, an intonation,
a clear ringing bell
with light inside that is begging for release,
and still you hold it all in, fight the brilliance
that is uniquely you.
People are begging for your song,
waiting to be saved by a song that only you can sing,
For all the things that make up a life,
that run a universe or that collide in hearts or stars,
in the unbearable witness of great human suffering,
or in the joy of unexpected offering,
the mercy that comes from a stranger or friend,
on this the whole world spins.
In birth and death, when something dies to allow something in,
in all the living stretched between,
in gratitude or grief
that in a moment can metamorphose from one to the other
and back again,
in a heap of tears falling to the ground,
in the bitter-sweetness of most everything,
in the simple pleasure of being here
a broken hallelujah all.
In clarity or confusion, this one thing I know,
that without brokenness,
there could never be a true hallelujah at all.
© 2016 Shoshana Wolfington
Unusual for February in the Pacific Northwest when the temps are normally quite chilly and the sky overcast, and when the gray seeps through everything, including yourself.
But we seem to be having long stringed days of uncommon weather, missing our freeze, warming everything so that even though it is not officially spring, it is springing, nonetheless. In propitious pinks and milky white cherry blossoms, in fat fisted dogwoods and citron yellow crocuses peeking their heads above the earth. Which doesn’t usually happen until the end of March into April.
Someone got their memos mixed up.
Expect the unexpected, they say. Like in everything. That’s how it is in life. Just when you get settled in to your humdrum routine or you’ve run out of answers to most everything, life decides to rearrange itself again around you, and you have to figure it all out or it figures it for you—and sometimes in the most delightful ways you never saw coming after a dark winter.
I’ve had a burning question inside of me for a while now, going back and forth on. One minute decided what I’m to do, and the next vacillating. And though there are no neon signs over my head pointing the exact way to go, there seems to be some kind of bright encouragement being broadcasted right here in my own living room telling me to keep stepping forward, like notes from some higher plane unexpectedly showing up when I need them the most. Like this morning. Zingers from the Universe, kind of like paper airplanes zipping all around or bouncing off my head, chock full of illuminated insight written into their folds and wings, like why didn’t I think of that? Simple, brilliant, wonderfully uplifting and motivating.
Just a couple months ago, I was fresh out of everything, which makes it all the more rousing and thrilling now.
Well, you’re not ready ‘till you’re ready, I suppose. And spring around these parts was ready much before anyone thought it should it be. At least this month.
So here’s the thing: Sometimes you just have to be brave and take risks—do that thing you’ve been contemplating for a while. Put your big toe in the water and start even if it all seems kind of muddified (I know that’s not really a word, but I just made it one) at the moment. Sometimes that is what it takes to make things clear. The water doesn’t clear and the answers don’t come until you actually commit to the risk through action. Some action, even the smallest one is a beginning. (And maybe that small action might even be asking for help or admitting a secret that’s been tearing you up for awhile.)
Sometimes you think you’re not ready, not prepared enough, don’t have the right answers yet. You might be mistaken to assume that idea so quickly. Dig a little deeper. What is really holding you back? You might fail or embarrass yourself? Public opinion? You might die? Well, you just might. Any of these things can happen. That’s the risk you take being alive every day—and we are all terminal in the end. Yet maybe, just maybe, you are being given another chance to live in a brand new way, a chance to make up your own song, start your own blog, develop your best ideas into something phenomenal. It could take some time, and there will be mistakes and learning curves. It doesn’t have to be perfect—that’s not the point–unless you are developing lifesaving equipment.
This morning, as spring was springing just outside my door, everything was conspiring in my favor, informing me that all the traumas of the past are about to become my greatest strengths. Everything I have been through, and like you, it has probably been plenty, contributes to the strength of my tomorrows if I allow it and move forward toward that thing I’ve been thinking about. Like forever.
From Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth, I’ll share what sprung me out of my sleepy head and into the clear light of the day:
There is an important idea in Nietzsche, of Amor fati, the “love of your fate,” which is in fact your life. As he says, if you say no to a single factor in your life, you have unraveled the whole thing. Furthermore, the more challenging or threatening the situation or context to be assimilated and affirmed, the greater the stature of the person who can achieve it. The demon that you can swallow gives you its power, and the greater life’s pain, the greater life’s reply.
“The struggle against an obstacle inevitably propels the fighter to a new level of functioning. The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth. The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity. The enemy is any perception that prevents us from seeing this.” Ryan Holiday in The Obstacle is the Way
Maslow says, “What one can be, one must be.”
I know I don’t want to die with all these beautiful words left inside me. I want to give them away, to scatter them everywhere. And whatever it takes to get there, whatever the obstacle, I’m okay. I’ve been thinking about these words of mine since I was five years old. If not now, when? And the universe seems to think I’m ready, so who am I to argue with that? There are some upcoming and real challenges that lie directly in my path over the next several months, but I am committing to whatever it takes to embrace them and move through them to the best of my ability—and that is all I can ask for. Do my best—yes. And let go of all self-recriminating thoughts when I don’t or it’s not perfect enough. I’m practicing at this whole thing called human life.
Today I am filled with overwhelming gratitude, as I stick my toe in the water and swallow the demon, for all the challenges and obstacles in my life today as I think about all the beautiful good it is propelling me to in my life. And it feels huge.
growing in reckless disarray far
from the trellis with its measured lines and squares.
Out of control and knee deep in weeds and fallen leaves—
the rich compost of soil below.
Insects that come to feast on our decay,
is perfection, indeed.
Indeed, everything is trying to help us live
even in our dying.
Give up trying to sanitize your life away.
Life never works like this.
You are not as together as you would like to believe.
Give up your dreams of enlightenment—
let it find you while you go out and live.
Fall down and get up again—let it be worse or better than
you ever imagined.
Dear, you must surrender to the beauty in everything
before you can really know anything.
© 2015 Shoshana Wolfington
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ~~Lao Tzu
I am over it–I’m throwing out my “Goo-B-Gone” in exchange for authenticity, giving up the sanitized version of myself for a more authentic me. Me with all my messiness, my pain and my outrageous laughter.
This is not to say I don’t still sometimes dig through the trash for that stuff in a moment of panicked meltdown. But the general theme of showing up as myself is having its way against my compulsive need to look strong for everyone. I am finding freedom in asking for help, in admitting my vulnerability.
It’s heady stuff, exhilarating when you finally begin to let the truth of yourself out.
It’s taken me awhile to get here after much grief and loss, and I’m not about to throw away all this hard work in order to look good for a lot of people that don’t really care because they are too busy worrying about how good they smell or how well they clean up.
I have given up my dreams of reaching total enlightenment or perfection in this lifetime and have decided to go out and live. If I have to fall down, that’s okay—let my life be worse or better than I could ever have imagined.
I’ve spent too many years believing certain things are fixed or healed and put away for good. These are just silly notions I’ve entertained. I have come to realize that I am at my best when I am broken wide open to both myself and others; and that because of the brokenness, there are far vista-ed rooms that wait for me, things within them I could never have conceived of on my own. It’s not that I go out looking for it. It has a way of finding me when I’m least expecting it. Wait long enough, it will come around. Life can be really surprising on both ends of the spectrum.
What I have often thought of as healed or finished so often returns for another day of reckoning, another layer of awareness in order to enter into wholeness, to make you ready for certain gifts that are waiting in the wings to enter your life.
I know my perception of how things are is limited by my stoicism, my blind faith, my rigidity, the wounds that live inside me. It is only by becoming soft inside, by allowing life to do its best work on me, and my eventual surrender to the whole beautiful world living inside my beingness that I am given the password to enter the sacred expanse of rooms or realms beyond anything I knew existed. Openness is where the sweetest of grace sweeps in. Brokenness is where it can find me, where I tumble down to my knees in gratitude for this one moment of pure release, knowing I am seen.
Pain is often the chisel that cracks the heart open when I have refused to surrender.
And it’s okay that it might take a while to learn this. I am learning to be tender with myself.
I am done with trying to sanitize and rationalize my life away.
Life doesn’t work like this on a more organic level. It will always find a way to come to you in order to crack your most carefully crafted exterior wide open. We are not as together as we would like others to believe.
Sometimes you just have to fall apart in order to come together. That toughened exterior has to crack wide open–the one that always wants to tell the world how fine you are, the one you hide behind with your doubts and fears and wounds.
There are some wounds that are buried deep, and like a splinter, take their own sweet time to surface. Sometimes the abyss looms large and we fall in.
On the way down, open your eyes and look around. Don’t fall asleep. Don’t judge yourself in the falling. Life is having its way with you, hoping you will surrender your heart to it—that you will find a way to say yes.
Life and the ability to laugh will cycle around again.
Life has a rhythm to it like the natural inhalation and exhalation of breathing, like the tides going in and out. No less your very own life, too. Expansion and contraction, contraction and expansion. There is no getting around it.
There are times you are required to give out and then just as naturally, simplify your life or days enough in order to take in the necessary nurture and nutrition your depleted body and soul requires. You cannot serve from an empty vessel. If you habituate yourself to serving from that place or believing there is no other way, life will come in the backdoor to simplify it for you. It will make a way where you thought there was none.
Recently, I let the windshield washer tank in my car run dry. I discovered this one day when I went to turn it on, and the only thing that came out was disgusting brown ooze all over my windshield. It’s kind of like this when we let our tanks run dry without taking the time to fill them back up.
In my years, I am coming to recognize that I always have enough. It might not appear to be so, I still too often hit the panic button; but it starts with the knowing that I am enough in whatever comes along. It is my perceived inner lack that I project out into the world and then draw back to myself.
Knowing this requires a daily commitment first to show up for myself, even if in the smallest of ways, such as consciously and simply inhaling and exhaling first before taking action or deciding what to say when things fall apart. And maybe that is all you can do in the moment. You might have to keep breathing, on purpose and with awareness.
No matter how we perceive it, we don’t know the end of the story yet. It could be better or worse than you ever imagined and then circle back around again. And remember that at the end of every story, a new one begins, whether that story ends by death or circumstance.
Put away the veneer and shellac, and begin to peer into the holes of your life with new eyes–there are stars in there!
If I were to get a tattoo on my arm to remind me in every minute when things fall apart, here’s what it would say: Everything Is Okay.
upon which all my existences run.
Jeweled beads one by one rest on me,
though I am not the beads.
Memory to memory, life to life and all that lies between,
I am the string, the ocean in a drop of water—
not separate from.
The same string that runs through you and me,
the thread of being that knits the seams of everything.
Woven of light, the exhalation of God weaving through
me and you, the stars, a child’s laughter, a grieving mother,
the deepest sea.
There is no other but the breath of God.
I’ve been here forever, so have you.
© 2014 Shoshana Wolfington
Some years back, I attended a “Shamanism 101” weekend workshop. Among several things I learned was how to read a rock. Crazy, huh? That’s what I thought, too. Not having tried it since, I was curious to find out if it’s just the rocks talking in my head or if it’s for real, and so I have decided to have another go at sharpening my rock reading skills. From my garden, I’ve selected a quite ordinary, nondescript looking rock. (It’s the one in the center of the picture with the burnt-out eye sockets.) Sitting it on the table, I begin to examine its rugged exterior. Going so far as to get my magnifying glass out, squinty-eyed, I peer studiously at this triangular shaped rock. Hmm…what is this? Shapes start to form upon the rock. Am I seeing things? Have I officially lost it entirely? I laugh at what my family would think if they could see me now.
It’s as if there is a kind of alchemical force at work in this rock as it begins to shape shift right in front of me. Here buried into its craggy, triangular shaped face is a burnt out looking eye—could this be a kind of scorched All Seeing Eye from too much light pouring through? Now aligning in a place next to the first eye is another eye forming. Between there’s a hump nose, and below an inverted V shaped mouth. I can see there’s no easily winning over the affections of this rock as it seemingly studies me in return. Could there be some semblance of personality in this little craggy curmudgeon?
Ah, now redeeming itself, I see “two” cat heads with whiskers, no less, on the one side of its head; a tree on the top side; a kind of earth on the underside. Feminine wisdom, it says to me; there’s the masculine, too, yin and yang balancing in the number two. Could it be there is a need for more balance in my life? This unassuming and down-to-earth rock certainly has quite a bit to say.
Feeling silly, but after a bit, I think I’m forming a relationship with this rock—this rock that is born of great struggle from the Mother Earth herself. Disconcertingly, I also begin to feel as if I’m being scrutinized by the All Seeing Eye looking back at me. I look again—it’s been a long journey from where it began. There are gouges and scrapes dug deep in its skin; there is the complementary feminine and masculine energy and the tree of life as it reaches toward its divinity. There are roots and rocks, death and rebirth, and flecks of crystal like tiny stars that hint brightly of heaven buried inside.
Fitting so neatly in the palm of my hand, this crazy little rock must have a great many stories to tell. It’s weighty and in a moment, grounds me, ties me to the earth, then floats me to the stars. What has it seen? What does it know in its density? In geologic time, how old might it be? Born from erupting, spewing volcanoes from earth below, their red hot magma in long rivers cooling into wide corridors of land, shaped and shifted by ferocious winds, massive floods and so many cataclysmic things over millions of years? Full of gouges and scrapes, it’s been a long journey here to my hand.
In some crazy metaphorical sense, I see it kind of like my life. What wisdom or healing would surface while I in stillness sit? At what point would the primal soup of remembering my own divinity come forth? Gazing in gratitude at the miracle of my own midnight stars, might I find my heart giving up secrets of its own? Traveling past soil and skin, what discovery would I make about myself that is surprising or beautiful?
What privilege this life, this body and soul born of earth and stars, rooted deep in rock, infinite ray of light traveling far to be here now; this holy moment looking deep into this rock, looking into me, both so full of mystery, revealing the truth of my heart. Mystical and mysterious, question and answer, a cosmos of unfathomable nebulae of many colors, the DNA of the universe imprinted upon every particle that we are. A body formed, spit out from volcanoes, storm tossed on to many shores, the sun’s light encased in our cells. In time, I’m as old as this rock. Outside of time, I’ve no beginning or end. Amazing, this being-ness without end and what rock can teach you…when you listen.
Every. Single. Day.
Until you do that thing you’re called to do.
What will you do until then?
How will you spend the currency of your finite days
looking at the clock, busying yourself
while you wait for perfection.
What never works in distraction.
Even then you feel it staring at you.
This stone of your passion, pervasive,
invading every little crumb of you.
You already know what to do.
You’ve got to begin.
Put some color on the canvass,
write a word, a scribble, anything.
Risk yourself for the sake of freedom.
Relieve your heart of this weight now.
This is truth:
That when you begin,
your wings will come,
but not ‘till then.
in winter always takes me
quite by surprise.
Not so much the noisy prattle, although wonderful,
of migratory northern geese pushing southward,
but the small throated songbirds that stay
for abbreviated cold winter days.
Trillers in lyrical bel canto
compelling me, quite in the middle of anything,
out my front door to listen.
Shivering from bare limbs,
swaying and fluttering in bleak wind when gray
can be wrung from everything—
Long after earth has gone underground for
her Sabbath rest,
a polyphonic coloratura sings,
ecstatic light emitting from delicate vocal chords.
These little warblers in joy-filled descant,
sing in psalms and praises to no one
in particular listening—