resolutions (or rain-part 2)

The Guest House – Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

It was alternately grey then drizzly in the morning as I rose, and so I correspondingly alternated between my perch on the humpback rock and my seat beneath the tarp. I thought perhaps the day would clear as the sun warmed the earth and persuaded the clouds to depart. Or perhaps not.

And all would be well.

I had awakened, grateful for those rains that had nourished the thirsty earth, which had been so dry as to crunch underfoot, grateful also for my own nighttime storms that somehow softened my crunchiness and prepared my own morning soil.  And so I began the day with intentional prayers of gratitude. Gratitude for it all, for the ones who accompany me through this journey of life as well as for my overwhelmed introvert self (many days without any solitude can make of her an exhausted monster).  I resolved, that early morning atop that great whale’s back, to fill my heart with (self) love instead of animosity, with tenderness rather than critique, with blessing rather than curse, with compassion rather than anger. Invoking the phrases of the lovingkindness meditation, I prayed, successively bringing to my heart’s mind each one of us, bathing us one by one in the rich feeling space that each phrase evokes within me.

May I be happy.

May I be free from violence (internal and external)

May I know Love.

May I be safe and at peace.

May I know the deep joy of being alive.

May you be happy

May you be free…..

May you..

Then I moved to join my awakening friends over hot coffee, bacon, and hash browns. Later, I did make that climb up the ridge to the hardwood grove, carrying my saw and a bag for carrying firewood, while my friend went looking for birds.  I asked the earth to show me what I might receive as a gift and she offered her gifts of a recently fallen maple, propped up from the soggy earth by a boulder. I thanked her and made my way back to camp.

Beginning the day in gratitude, as I had just learned that the Onondago children of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy practice each morning in their schools, does indeed change one’s heart along with one’s perspective.

Our final day in camp was glorious, though it began rainy and chilly, becoming quite windy with what we thought was a clearing front passing through, though the blue never broke free much at all, and we were forced to be grounded in more ways than one. Throughout the course of the day we continued to forge our relational bonds with one another, moving in and out of one another’s company that day as smoothly as breath, alternately walking or sitting alone by the water, then reading together aloud the  Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving address  ( be sure to click ‘next’ through the pages in the link to receive the full blessing), moving into the cocoon-like solitude of our tents, then breaking bread in communion around the fire.  Two of us gathered wood, another one sawed it, while another took the opportunity to sit on a rock ledge high above the water.  We shared laughter over a card game, using the pot lid as a table and our pockets for holding our tricks to keep the cards from flying away in that great life-bringing wind from the south. We cooked dinner (and while we were at it, tomorrow’s breakfast in preparation for an early morning departure),  washed and packed up the dishes, then sat by the fire, watching the wind play with the water until at last, near dusk, it settled.

Finally, we put that rain tarp back into the pack.

Somewhere in the midst of that day, I came to realize that I was loved just as I was, gnarled warts and all. It brought to my heart the truth of that great dream I  was given years ago… the one where I was told to do just that, let myself be filled from my roots to my crown with Love.   What a blessing was that.

The next morning, we rose early, eating an unappetizingly cold breakfast, then paddled out of the park in a constant drizzle. I found myself -completely disoriented- once. It was such a beautiful day.




Always on these trips, this realization surfaces in me that I must come here alone to become still enough to listen, to hear, and to honor the call of my own voice. Call it my introverted self, my neurotic self, my codependent self, my socially anxious self, if you will, but also I recall the affirming words of canoeist and author, Robert Perkins, on the need for and gifts of alone time-away, spent drawing from the deep well that is solitude in nature.

…when you aren’t as consumed with your thoughts and your fears, you begin to sense other things… if you are with another person it is twice as hard, with five people, 5 times as hard. You end up turning to them, wanting to take care of them. ‘Are you alright?’ ‘Can i help you?” Your mood is up. Mine is down’,

or of Sigurd Olsen

two of the greatest values of wilderness travel, solitude and silence’

or Emerson

there are voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter the world’

but finally those of Rod MacIver,

‘Perhaps more than anything other than love, a life needs spirituality and it needs a rhythm. A life lived close to the land and the water nurtures both…Our natural rhythms emerge in the wilderness from which we came. That is our real home, and the ultimate repository of the human soul’.

I need to find and to honor my own rhythms without feeling as I am trying to coerce another into resonance with them. This was the gift and the message of this past winter, after all,  with my husband laid up as he was, this discovery and honoring of my own slow, quiet natural rhythms. Here, I am reminded to honor the gifts of my introverted self –this deep place, for instance, where the writing comes from, is one of those –rather than curse it, to honor as valid my deep need for solitude.

And yet, I do long to share this place of deep belonging with another. Always my heart longs for that. Whenever I experience this deep connection to the earth, to myself, to the sacred in these places, my opened heart invariably longs for its connections with the human persons that it also loves, to include them in this wide welcome home. I also honor and trust in the deep transformative conversation that the dialogue of relationship invites.

Both/and. Always in tension, always seeking balance, the needs of the self, the need for relationship, the needs of the individual, the needs of community  (and FOR communion).

Honestly, sometimes when I imagine coming out here alone for an extended time, that can feel just as difficult and intimidating as navigating the complex terrain of relationships. Perhaps true gifts do require work, after all… not in an earning favor kind of way, but in a willingness to sacrifice and practice kind of way, as in a gift for the arts, for instance.  Earlier in the week, while alone on the north side of our little island home for a few days, I read the portion of a creation story -in Robin Wahl Kimmerer’s book, Braiding Sweetgrass – concerning the sweet syrup of maple trees and how it was that, once upon a time, the Great Spirit noticed that humans were not tending the earth, not planting crops, gathering roots, or putting up stores. When that Great One went looking for them, they were found lying beneath the Maple trees with their mouths open, gulping down the sweetness that was pouring from them freely in those days. It was then that the Spirit poured buckets of water into the trees to dilute their sweetness so that humans would have to work to make of the sap something sweet and usable.

Without work, we become less than who we might be. With too much ease, we fail to attend to our relationships, with the earth, with each other, with our deeper selves. We become lazy and take advantage of what is given too easily, forgetting to honor and tend the gift. In relation to the earth, when the lights turn on at the flip of a switch, or our cars turn over with the push of a button, we forget to be diligent in attending to exactly what occurs in order for that to happen and asking if what we are receiving is gift or chattel taken forcibly .  Thus, both our relationship with the earth as well as the earth herself is damaged.

In our human-to-human relationships, we can also take advantage, expecting the sweetness to flow into our mouths without putting in the work and the time, not wanting to deal with the dis-ease, and so perhaps those relationships also wither.  I trust there is also value in attending more closely to one’s relationship to self. Though too often such a value is condemned as selfish, we do damage to ourselves by not nurturing it. And most of us find ourselves lost in a existential crisis, living ‘lives of quiet despair’, if we fail to nurture a relationship with the Sacred aspect of life.

And so out here on these trips, the work of making fire, constructing shelter, sleeping on the ground, traveling by self propelled power, carrying gear on our backs, gathering water, preparing food, living in rhythm with the rising and setting sun, in concert with the stars and the weather, puts us into a closer relationship with the earth and does make life taste sweeter somehow. Likewise, the work of understanding differing perspectives and needs, strengths and weaknesses, fears and joys, preferences and dreams, makes of a human-human relationship sweeter. It is not always easy, but perhaps that is what makes it a gift.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kidfriendlyyoga
    May 23, 2016 @ 16:25:18

    Beautifully expressed!



  2. Trackback: weavings | Emmaatlast's Weblog

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