As you read this post, I invite you to explore: Where are the fault-lines in your life right now? The ones through which you fear falling into the unknown? What happens if you let yourself fall, knowing that you are deeply held? How do you cradle your own falling? How do you bless the cracking open, the splitting apart? How do you honour what’s emerging? I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with this.
One wintry day last December, I went for a walk in the woods near my home. The trail, usually broad and inviting, was slippery with ice and littered with branches blown down by the wind. The insupportable weight of wet snow had cracked more than one great old tree in two, and several smaller trees had been ripped up by their roots, leaving gaping, muddy root-shaped holes in the forest floor. Waist-high ferns that were flourishing just a few weeks earlier lay flat under melting ice, only their tips showing green against the jagged ground. Nature’s wild, raw force had battered through, leaving destruction in its wake.
Sometimes, life crashes down upon us in much the same way. Some great elemental force blows through, flattening the structures we have so painstakingly built, cutting a wide swath through our habits and pretensions. At such times-when all we have relied upon becomes suddenly unstable, and we feel powerless in the face of forces beyond our control-the green shoots of spiritual truths emerge through the fault lines that have opened up in our lives.
One of these truths is that we do have power. First, we have the power to let go. To yield to the pruning force of the storm. To embrace its cleansing, scouring gift.
When I am stunned by loss, all I can do for a while is breathe. Breathe, and be grateful for each in-breath, for its gift of grace, unearned, freely given. And surrender each shaky out breath, trusting that the next breath will bring what I need.
Several years ago, following a painful divorce, I moved out of my home, leaving behind my life as I had known it. My body was in constant pain from injuries I had sustained in a car accident. I didn’t know if I would ever again be able to do the things that had once made me happy. Then, one afternoon, an artery burst under the retina of my left eye and suddenly the vision in that eye was gone. Over the next several months, I had to re-learn how to read, how to make sense of what I saw with my singular vision, how to drive. And how to let go of the person I had once been; how to embrace my newly-visioned self.
As I stood amidst the wreckage of all that I had thought of as mine, the voice of my spirit sounded clearly-and with incomprehensible joy-through the fog of doubt and grief that felt as though it would never lift. “Think of the past as compost,” said this inner voice. “This is the mulch that will nourish you. The ground from which your life will spring.”
Time crept past before I could begin to hear my spirit’s wisdom. With infinite patience, life itself reminded me, over and over again, that change is in our DNA-none of us remains the same from one moment to the next. Our families and friends, those whom we love and think we know, are not the same from one day to the next. When we let go of who we think we are, of who we think they are, there is an opening-space for delight and surprise, breathing room in which to unwrap the gifts of our newly emerging selves.
Seeing the world through one eye was a constant and unfolding surprise. Nothing was what it appeared to be. But sometimes, even though what I saw made no logical sense, I knew I was witnessing the true essence of things. Familiar objects, people, and events revealed their essential otherness, their sacred mystery.
The gift of singular sight has begun to fade, as my brain has adjusted to non-stereoscopic vision. Yet the truth of surrender to the flow of life unfolds within me each day. Each day brings new opportunities and gifts, new pathways to explore. And the ground on which I stand today with such a glad and grateful heart, is softened by the experiences of the years that have gone before. The ones that broke my heart, and the ones that uplifted it.
At some point during the journey from then to now, other spiritual truths emerged. That we are not alone. That we are embedded and held in a cradle of love so strong and deep that our falling is always and also a lifting and rising. Even, and especially, when it seems as though the only sound we can hear is the howling of a solitary wind. As the winds of change rage around us, we can stand upright in the centre of the storm. Rooted in the wholeness of our sacred being, we can know ourselves safe, loved, and sheltered in life’s embrace.
And we can bless our world, even when it seems to be falling apart. In the midst of chaos, we can choose the power of love and blessing. The moment we make that choice and act on it, we are restored to wholeness. We become the agents of grace.
Walking through the snowy woods that day, I glanced over my shoulder at the familiar past disappearing around the corner. And stepped forward to meet the path ahead. Beyond the wreckage of fallen trees and broken branches, a robin hopped on the ground, its bright eye and red breast a flutter of beauty and promise against the white snow. Clean, cold air scoured my lungs. Ice crunched under my boots. There was silence in the woods, a new and joyful spaciousness in my heart. And deep gratitude for the spirit that had brought me to this place. To this moment, where the world became new.