seeking solstice

it is about 2 weeks now from summer solstice, and as i look ahead in preparation for a solstice gathering of friends, i am once again reminded to pay attention to the earth more closely, to listen for her invitations, to attend to her lessons. and once again, as occurs so often for me when i attend to the earth, the coming solstice seems to call me to balance, to both/and, to all-inclusive embrace.

joy is one of our themes for the summer, and indeed, the last time i wrote here, i wrote about joy in its form, Delight. today i am feeling drawn to write about angst, and while the two might seem to be far from each other on a linear scale, the earth is not a linear being, and neither am i. in my mind, i’ve always imaged the earth’s seasons as a circle, where seeds are never very far from dying foliage, where the lengthening of days is just a breath away from their shortening, where distinct edges blur into one another, where beauty and terror touch.

i have asked ‘what are you delighting in?’ today i ask, ‘what brings your heart to angst?’ perhaps these two (too) are not so far from one another, for it seems that that which we love holds the potential for both…great joy and deep sorrow… in the same space in our hearts. being human allows us to hold such a sacred space, a both/and space, a space that at the same time, in the same breath, knows that all is beauty, all is goodness, all is love, all is well, AND that there is ugliness, malevolence, sorrow and pain.

when we are in balance, we can walk the line that connects the two – like walking along the line that separates yin from yang – and see it all as one.  sometimes, though, i picture that edge to be more fluid, more blurred, (a wide gray, shifting path perhaps) like walking along the tide at the edge of the ocean, a fitting metaphor for a summer pondering. sometimes you misjudge the way the tide is shifting and a sudden wave catches you by surprise.

thankfully, the earth teaches us about a balance that doesn’t have to be all-at-once, but can be spread out over time and space, can be cyclical or inclusively round. the atmosphere is one day hot and sunny, the next day cool. the earth is one season barren and dormant, the next one abundant and alive, there are 16 hours of darkness in one season, 16 hours of light in another. i am filled with delight one month, bereft the next. we are allowed to mourn and to dance. (ecclesiates 3, after all)

the spiritual journey seems to me to be continually inviting us to flow … sometimes gracefully, if we’re lucky, sometimes getting knocked off our feet, if we’re lucky….in that gray space between, to live in the tension where everything belongs, where the ‘all is one’ and the ‘one particular desire’ dance, where ‘all is well’ and ‘not yet’ coexist, and where the unchanging eternal presence and the evolving one meet.  walking in that gray (some might call it foggy) space, we can be enraged and call for change; we can see a particular need, a particular injustice, or incarnate a particular message without becoming black and white. we can be unique and part of the whole.

yes, we can be full of intense longing and deep contentment at once.

i have heard it explained that the western religions, being born in oppressed people’s spirits, tend to be forward thinking… eg salvation, after-life, the not-yet, kingdom building & justice seeking, prophetic, and transformational…. and that the eastern ones, being born in more-privileged classes, tend to be more focused on detaching-from and taming the craving for more, seeing beneath the illusion of better/worse.  this is likely a vast oversimplification, but it speaks to the two halves of the spiritual journey… the west/east, right brain/left brain, yin/yang, soul/spirit halves of the whole human/divine beings that we are. one half of our spiritual journeys involves finding deep contentment (in the whole of life as it is) and the other half in finding deep purpose (in the particular, one wild and precious life). 

recall the woman  who’d had a stroke that rendered her left brain temporarily dead— and the overwhelming feeling of oneness/nirvana she experienced living from that half of her humanity. (if you haven’t checked out her ted talk yet, here it is).  ialso recall bill plotkin’s understanding of the difference between spirit and soul, and that spirituality movements here in the united states seem to focus a lot on the ‘spirit-ual’ journey (finding oneness, the sacred in all, presence in the moment, perhaps as a balance to all that after-life focus, brokenness emphasis of traditional western theologies) but not so much on soul-crafting, (eg what are you specifically here to incarnate). it’s all semantics really, a way of trying to express the ineffable longing we all feel, some truth we perceive but can’t name.. that we are both/and, human/divine, One/one… and that life is also the same.

and all this to say, sometimes i am living from that place deep within that knows and experiences all of life as Beauty and Blessed, that sees the Mystery everywhere and can simply dwell in the bliss of that, and sometimes i am living from that equally deep soulful place in me that yearns for more than this, or that wants to ‘be something’ or ‘do something’.  sometimes i understand that my reason for being here is simply to be Love – to learn about it, to experience it, to receive it, to grow in it, to become it — and sometimes i yearn terribly to know what my reason for being is.  both places in me seek the freedom to be, or permission to be, more precisely. i yearn for the permission to dwell deeply in both places – to be allowed to know that All is Well or to be allowed to experience the deep longing for More.  and at the same time i know that both places can be dangerous ones for me to dwell in too deeply, for too long, exclusively. if I dwell too long in the mystery and oneness of being, in the all-is-well that i know so well, i can become both paralyzed and apathetic – unmotivated to change, to respond, to do something. if I dwell too long in the specific expression… for justice or change, for instance… i can become narrow-minded, black-and-white thinking, and fail to see/trust Godde at work in all. i can become bitter if my desires are unmet, my dreams unfulfilled.

and yet, and yet, and yet… all is well. even if I dwell too long in the depths or the heights, Godde is there, loving me (i am thinking of psalm 139 here). if the waves knock me off my feet, Love is there with me. if I stay high on dry sand, making my stride more demanding, Love is there too.

today, my heart hurts, and i trust that this too is well, a sign of its tenderness.

i long for my loved one to be well, and at the same time i need to trust that she is held by a Love greater than my own.

i mourn the death of a dream and at the same time i trust that there is goodness awaiting me (even as it is here with me now).

i feel anger at my own powerlessness while at the same time i trust i am embued with a power i have not yet claimed as mine to share.

and i am tired, to boot.

deep peace to you, my friends,



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. KJ
    Jun 06, 2012 @ 08:56:33

    You have a beautiful way of expressing yourself! And I envy the Hope you hold in the midst of struggle. I am wrestling to believe there is goodness awaiting after the death of my dream. You encourage me, and I thank you.
    May you be peaceful and fully awaken to the light of your True Nature.



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