Before I open my eyes, a heaviness in flesh and bone announces the dampness filling thelate summer air. The icy fingers of autumn cause my pores to contract, reminding me ofthe downward and inward movement of the coming months. I want to stay curled up likelike the beans and peas in the garden who close at night. As I peer out through theshadowy in-between time of early morning, a thick mist hangs above the ground where the sun is just becoming. I, too, feel as though I am just becoming.
Moving outside to the garden, I reflect on the time of the pandemic and the great ‘truth telling time’ we are living in. We are collectively and individually bearing witness to the revealing of truths that have been shaping our landscape internally and externally all along the course of human history. How we live and what we believe about our place in existence is reflected in our internal and external environments. My garden tells me about what it needs in very clear ways. I am continuously learning the language, how to read the signs, and about how every aspect of mineral, soil, bacteria, insect, animal, and weather patterns relates to the flourishing or demise of what I’m trying to grow. In this great dance of inter-being, there lies the potential for all life to be nourished. Or not.
“It feels like I’m standing in the middle of a burning pyre being burned alive. When I lookout through the flames, there is this intensely raw feeling of being at the complete mercy ofa process that I cannot change and can only allow. The flames fly wildly around me andthere is nowhere to go. It seems that the flames are coming from my own flesh and bones,so wherever I go, the flames follow.” 1
Hexagram 30. Li/The Clinging, Fire. Li means “to ‘cling to something’, ‘to be conditioned’,‘to depend or rest on something’, and also ‘brightness’…what is dark clings to what is lightand so enhances the brightness of the latter. A luminous thing giving out light must havewithin itself something that perseveres; otherwise it will in time burn itself out. Everythingthat gives light is dependent on something to which it clings, in order that it may continueto shine… Human life on earth is conditioned and unfree, and when man recognizes thislimitation and makes himself dependent upon the harmonious and beneficent forces of thecosmos, he achieves success… one may put aside hope and fear, and sigh and lament: ifone is intent on clarity of mind, good fortune will come from his grief. For here we aredealing not with a passing of mood… but with a real change of heart.” 2
A ‘real change of heart’ opens pathways for healing.
The heart belongs to the element fire, summer, heat, south, joy, sadness, red, bitter flavor,the tongue, blood, sweat, flowering. Taoist sages tell us that deep within the heart withinthe heart, lives the shen (the spirit of the heart), imbued with the pure light of divineconsciousness that guides and protects us in our earth walk. The shen ask us to tenderlycare for the altar of our heart—a threshold between the realm of the timeless and the time-bound where mystery lives and informs us in the most sacred ways of the Tao. The shenneed our stillness and silence so that we may hear, with the inner ear, the guidance ofMystery whispered in a language only the heart understands.Continue reading “The Alchemy of Love”→
The experience of transition times can be mildly to severely destabilizing and disorienting, yet it can also be immensely liberating and creative as one phase declines and a new one arises. More than any other seasonal transition, the chaos of spring is one of the most demanding on the body, mind, emotions, and spirit.
In summer we are nourished by months of warmth, light, community, and the abundance of fresh produce all fostering a sense of contentment and nourishment. Our storehouse is filled so that it can help sustain us through winter months. When autumn escorts us from summer to winter, there can be a sense of grief as the warmth and abundance of summer falls away. Yet there can also be a sense of relief, ease and comfort in surrendering to the forces of gravity as the demands of long days and outward movement begin to decline. In winter, our energies become more yin, moving inward and down. Like trees and seeds, if we allow ourselves to naturally be with this time and wait in relative stillness and dormancy, new life gestates and is nourished by the invisible realm.
The first signs of spring emerge in unpredictable fits and starts. One day is snow and freezing cold, another is filled with sunshine and warmth, while the spring winds continue to bring chaos and change. A new energy begins to stir within as the daffodils show their faces, small buds swell from bare branches, and migratory birds leave and return. One day we burst out of hibernation, only to be met by fatigue and a need for more rest the next day. By listening inside to what we are experiencing and responding with fluidity, patience, and care to our current needs, we are more able to find some ease. Flexibility is key.
Like seedlings beneath the earth, our energies are beginning to rise. Instead of the ease of surrendering to gravity like in fall, spring energies must move against gravity toward the light of the sun like seedlings pushing up through the earth. This negentropic movement against gravity requires energy. If we haven’t allowed ourselves enough rest and renewal in winter, energy stores will be deficient and there may be difficulty in meeting or grounding the more active, yang energies of spring and summer.