Your longing started your journey but you never fully arrived
You remember the space where you never were
You knew of the warmth you were never to feel
You’re missing something you never had
You’re lost on familiar roads
You disappear when staying is too hard
The cold feels unbearable
Your longing calls out in the silence of your voice
Wandering through this emptiness, exploring the fullness of expectation and longing is what I do on this windy, rainy day. It calls for a steady pace across long straight paths filled with mud and puddles. Walking slowly makes you sink into sorrow and hurt. The emtpiness doesn’t easily give up its fullness.
The 13th century Sufi poet Hafiz describes this in his poem ‘My eyes so soft’,
“Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
As few human or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender,
My need of God
In between showers I take a walk in the forest. The air is of an even, damp grey. Everything looks pretty much the same, everything looks brownish wet and it feels a bit boring, not very inviting. When things get boring, I start to look for differences. When you look closely, you see that everything is different; shapes, colours and textures. Not one view is the same. Perhaps you need to be bored to be able to see differences?
It’s when you start looking closely at things, that you start seeing the miracle. When we pay attention to the detail, the wonder of complexity is when we see things as if it were the first time. When we see something we can’t place, don’t recognize; we start wondering. It’s new, exciting, amazing, even miraculous perhaps. I remember the first time I saw the sea. I must have been 4 or 5 and it was endless. I was totally overwhelmed, in awe and amazament. The first time I had experienced endlessness as a hum being. I didn’t sleep much that night, as something had happened to me that was out of my knowing or expierence till then. Now, whenever I go the beach, I still recall that feeling of endlessness and wonder. When we look at another person, what do we see? Do we see a member of the human race, like trees in forest? Or do we see a unique being that requieres our deep attention to see its wonder of complexity?
Later we learn context and are taught that it is ‘just’ a tree. That the sea is not endless, but that England is on the other side and that if you travel far enough you come back to where you were. Everything becomes rational and explainable. You learn that people are pretty much the same wherever you go. The wonder is gone, it all becomes known and a maybe a bit disappointing. I am not promoting we have a romantic view of the world and all that is there. I do promote that we can see with the eyes of a child, that we can see things as if they happened for the first time, that we can experience the wonder of our world. That every tree is a miracle by itself. That every human being is different and miraculous, as if we meet for the first time.
The most beautiful moment of the eclipse is not when the moon shines clothed in full red colours over the frozen lake at which I stand. The most beautiful and special happens when the light slowly, almost imperceptibly, starts showing itself again. At first very careful, at the edges, then ever changing and increasing and decreasing in intensity. Every brief moment is different. It compels you to adapt your focus, blink your eyes, tilt your head; you make small movements to keep following the changes. A continuous adaptation from inside to outside, from outside to inside.
The people that have also come out on this cold morning don’t notice that. They pay attention to the pictures they want to take, the moment that needs to be captured. It requires constant adaptation of their camera’s and tripods, accompanied by explanations and conversation. That way they miss what I feel to be so special.
When I get back home, feeling cold through and through and hugging my heating, I see that I could have followed the proces through my window. But then I would have missed this special feeling. And I would have missed the clear light of Venus in my eyes when I walked back.
From my window I notice the boring, grey day. It doesn’t look very inviting. The past two days I delivered an intensive training; being out there and passing on a lot of my energy. A walk in the woods would help me, feel the ground under my own feet again. The forest is near and I have the time. But I don’t want to, I don’t feel like it and I am also just tired. What is this? What obstacle lies there in front of me that keeps me from doing what I know to be good for me and what I usually like doing? To have the ability but to be unwilling. In another, emotional aspect of my life I feel an unwillingness and an inability. That has to with letting go, for which I am not prepared. And then there is a willingness but an unability with my light smoking addiction that bothers me. I have bookshelfs full of sensible words but they are not helping if I don’t feel where my resistance lies. The words only serve to show me where I am not, that it is not good and that therefore I’m still not good enough. On impulse I get my tarot cards out. Let them show me what is in stead of what should be. Miraculous things, these cards. They do show me what is, in the here and now. Brieflly (without the deeper personal subtleties that the card adds):
Able, yet unwilling: devotion and discipline
Willing, yet unable: the natural restraint
Unable and unwilling: calmness and surrender
The cards give a fresh and unexpected view on the here and now. Now there is silence, quiet and peace and I am ready to go into the day.
Able and willing: go for a walk 🙂
“Sooner or later we have to admit that the importance does not lie in finding something, but in being found”
The forest is busy with lots of people getting some fresh air. I too need some fresh air after the social events of the holidays, that also sometimes kept me from finding the silence in these days. I overhear many conversations. I hear a lot of anecdotes, facts and opinions. We find a lot, I hear and are quite busy convincing others. Perhaps that’s the way in which people manage their space? When the drizzle starts the forest empties out, most people don’t like walking in the rain. In the now quiet nature there is no opinion. Nature is. It doesn’t ask anything of you. When you entrust yourself to nature it gives. In the images, the sounds, the smells and the moving through. In the silence and the wonder that happens then, new thoughts and considerations come to you effortlessly. You come back to yourself. Another wonderful thought is that nature, in the here and now, exists only for me. If nature were conscious, then I were there solely for her as well. It was made for me, as I was made for this forest. We are part of each other.
What if we could share like this with another person. To just be in the wonder of our being. When you get to know the other person, you also learn about yourself. In vulnerability and in fear, in attention and in despair, always lovingly. In this deep surrender to the other you also learn to know your deepest self. Perhaps you fear to lose yourself but in giving yourself deeply, nothing is lost. You are being found, you become who you are in your deepest being.
Suddenly now I see the link with my last blogpost. Love’s gift lies in acceptance, rather than giving. In being found, rather than finding.
“Love’s gift cannot be given, it waits to be accepted.” (Rabindranath Tagore)
It is a calm day under a wintry sun. Over the forest and under the trees lies an air of quiet stillness. The life of the trees has retreated to their roots and they seem dormant in the quiet of the day. Trees are also reflected in the puddles of last days’ rain. The waterways and gullys are still dry, however. To recover from last summers’ drought we would need 200 days of rain like we had yesterday, I heard. It doesn’t seem like that is going to happen before next summer.
It’s a gentle, still day, that invites to be silent and reflective, like the trees. It invites us to connect to our roots through our dreams or meditations and to connect yet again to our soul’s longing. Maybe there is a thought or a reflection that you would take into your dreams to be seen in the soft light of your soul’s wisdom. Mine would be the lines above this text, by RabindranathTagore. What might be yours?
The early dark of the winters’ evening invites me in, invites me down…
with silvery droplets of yesterday’s frost
The river gently, softly flowing
Where we sat on that summers’ eve
Everything flows, nothing is forgotten
“For millions of years, before you arrived here, the dream of your individuality was carefully prepared. You were sent to a shape of destiny in which you would be able to express the special gift you bring to the world. Sometimes this gift may involve suffering and pain that can neither be accounted for nor explained. There is a unique destiny for each person. Each one of us has something to do here that can be done by no one else. If some one else could fulfil your destiny, then they would be in your place, and you would not be here. It is in the depths of your life that you will discover the invisible neccesity which has brought you here. When you begin to decipher this, your gift and giftedness come alive. Your heart quickens and the urgency of living rekindles your creativity”.
“Real friendship or love is not manufactured or achieved. Friendship is always an act of recognition. This metaphor of friendship can be grounded in the clay nature of the human body. When you find the person you love, an act of ancient recognition brings you together. It is as if millions of year before the silence of nature broke, his or her clay and your clay lay side by side. Then, in the turning of the seasons your one clay divided and separated. You began to rise as distinct clay forms, each holding a different individuality and destiny. Without even knowing it, your secret memory mourned your loss of each other. While your clay selves wandered for thousands of years through the universe, your longing for each other never faded. This metaphor helps to explain how in the moment of friendship two souls suddenly recognize each other. It could be a meeting on the street, or a party, a lecture or just a simple banal introdcution, then, suddenly there is the flash recognition and the embers of kinship glow. There is an awakening between you, a sense of ancient knowing. Love opens the door of ancient recognition. You enter. You come home to each other at last…”
I am on an evening walk. It is dark but not too dark. The full moon shows its face every once in a while through the clouds that are gently drifting in from the south-east. Walkin in the dark is very different from walking in day time. You walk in a more feeling way, more in a hearing way. It is quieter, I can hear my breathing. Sometimes there is a rustle in the leaves. The light of the moon in winter time is different from summer time.; softer and more quiet. It colours the trees en the shrubs and the leaves on the path in many different shades of grey. In me it gets quieter and more still as well. The moonlight that colours everything in these beautiful, soft shades of grey invites me to look and listen inside as well, to the grey shades of my own body and soul.
I was at the IDFA festival today with my colleague coaches, where we saw the documentary “Sheep Hero”. A hard headed sheep herd who has to stand up to cutbacks and reorganisations. You also saw straight away that his stubbornness was the reason that he couldn’t make any choice other than following his heart’s direction, untill the inevitable end. We heard and saw him making his stubborn choices and we could predict the end of his story from the start. You can do that because you have some distance to him. I wonder who can predict my choices, who can already tell the river of my story; gently, softly, with all the twists and bends. Who can tell your choices and story; gently, lovingly, almost without questions?
John O’Donohue writes a beauftiful piece about making choices in his book ‘Walking in Wonder’
“That is one of the fascinating things in going through the world -you wonder at destiny, at the way that life actually flowes and moves and grows. I have a great suspicion of of an awful lot of what is paraded as moral decision and moral rectitude and moral recognition, I think there is a beautiful morality of possibility to be written, because placing all the emphasis on moral choice is very limiting. Choise is always about loss; you choose one thing over the other several things. And maybe the soul doesn’t want to do that. It is a very interesting question: whether in the course of your life, you had to choose one direction, if in actual fact, in the unknown area of your life, your other unchosen lives might not actually travel with you as well. Maybe one of the great surprises we will get in the wonder moment of after-death is that when we wake up and straighten up in that new kingdom, we will find that all our unchosen and unlived lives are there to welcome us as well”.
It’s an early Sunday morning. The first frost on the fields slowly disappears under a clear, cold sun. Geese huddle together. Enthousiastic church bells try to lure the last of the faithful to the service. In the forest, two woodpeckers signal each other from a distance. The last of the yellowing leaves hold on to the branches. It’s a very different atmosphere from what I remember from my childhood. The evening fell quicker then, maybe because there was less light and less business in the evenings, maybe because I was a child. The headlights of my bicycle beamed through the mist and the dynamo made a zooming noise. But the reception of St. Nicolas hasn’t changed. With my school class behind the band to the big hall in our village, where a few children, the very good or the very naughty were seen by St. Nicolas. I was never one of them, always with the majority in the back. Not that I minded, I wasn’t looking for attention. St. Nicolas was still a severe albeit just person and Pete was still the helper with the rod and the sack. I was more afraid of the severity of Nicolas than of Pete’s rod. And then, in fairy tales it is always the younger brother, the unnoticed and the servant that turns out to be the real heroe. At the end I would walk with a brown paper bag in which there were an orange, some ‘pepernoten’ and a marzipan frog to my aunts’ house where the adults were watching the first black and white tv set. The rope that I had dangerously slung across the road in front of our house in my youthful ignorance however did make into the Saint’s red book. In a house call he made I had to confess and promise never to repeat this. I then got a handful of pepernoten from Pete. Yes, Saint Nicolas was very Catholic in those days; do penance and receive a reward.
People now want change, I hear and see. People long for change and safety in an uncertain world, a feeling of home. For some that is going back to their childhood, for others it’s a place in society. I have no longing for the days of my childhood. My longing is for belonging and love in the world of today.
Yet I find beauty in the way people project their longing for and the safety of home on Pete. Not on Nicolas the Saint, but on Pete the helper. As in the fairy tales it’s the helper that becomes the symbol of everybody’s hero. An encouraging thought.