It seems Nature is oblivious to the chaos and fear surrounding COVID19 and the violence of the past weeks. I’m envious. I envy Nature’s ability to be above it all and to carry on with the business of being what they are. Songbirds sing without a care. Squirrels scamper and chase one another around the large oak tree in our yard. And redtailed hawks glide on the warm spring air without so much as a wing flap.
It seems a little anti-climactic to say the past several weeks have been extremely difficult. I’ve avoided blogging perhaps because I’ve been sorting through my own thoughts and feelings. I considered several topics and finally abandoned them.
My heart and soul cries out for retreat, reflection and rest. The retreat I planned to attend the second week of June was cancelled due to It. I can’t even bear to name It (COVID19). I was looking forward to 7 days of silence and daily spiritual direction with a director. Seven days of prayer, meditation, walking, SoulCollage card making, prayerfully walking a labyrinth, journaling, reading and even napping. Seven days for rest and spiritual regrouping. “It” took that from me like it took so many things this year.
So many emotions about “It”. So many more about the current state of unrest and discord in our world. I’ve done my fair share of shaking my fist at the Cosmos in anger and frustration feeling overwhelmed and powerless to effectuate a “fix”, to heal deep wounds, or to abate fear. And I’m not likely to join a crowd of people in peaceful protest at this time. (That is a whole other blog about protests, petitions, fighting city hall and so on for another time.)
I heard an inner call this morning to simply stop, pause and take a mini-retreat on the back deck. I stared at a blank page in my journal for a while and began to write without a care for punctuation or spelling. I wrote to get it all out. Most of my journal entries are streams of consciousness with half sentences and random thoughts that would make no sense to a reader. That’s okay. They make sense to me – sort of. I suppose it looks like nonsensical ravings of a lunatic mind! It doesn’t matter. I took a writing course in which they told us that the page always listens. My pages got an earful today! They listened.
Friends, I don’t have answers for what is going on in the world today. My gut feeling is that as a culture, a nation and a world we are in a time of transition, a time of liminal space. Think of a door and the part in the middle that is neither on this side of the door or the other side. It’s the part of the doorway which contains the threshold, the space in between. It’s the space of transition, of letting go, of going through, and of welcoming what is not known on the other side.
Human beings are not very good with change. Yet, all of life is constant with change. Change, even if it is good, is still a challenge. Positive change, like the birth of a child, a new job, a new relationship, can be welcomed with joy and also a bit of fear of the unknown. Negative change or the type of change that is not expected or welcomed is also a challenge. Change like diminishment of ability due to aging, the death of a loved one, ending a relationship, or loosing a job are met with fear and apprehension and feeling “stuck”.
I’ve experienced several times of change and liminal space in my life both positive and negative transitions. I have a couple of “go-tos” which help me navigate and find my way through these times. They are the voices of musicians and poets, the writings of saints and mystics and the images of artists and photographers. If you aren’t familiar with Carrie Newcomer, you must acquaint yourself with her https://www.carrienewcomer.com/home Her latest album, The Point of Arrival, contains a song “The Only Way Through Is In” https://youtu.be/oYAtWQB25JY with the line “the only way out is through and the only way through is in”.
We have to keep walking. We have to try to step through the doorway. Sometimes it’s painful as hell to let go of something we loved so much. Walking through liminal space with all the fear and uncertainty and no answers is just too much. We immerse ourselves in the unknowing and the sensation of falling without a net. I believe we are being called to let go of what we know, of old ways of thinking and being and to reach through the doorway to something unknown. We are filled with anticipation and fear and excitement and —- hope. Who and what do we seek to be our guides during this time?
I’ve been in liminal space before and I came through it. It wasn’t easy and there were times when I wasn’t pleasant to be around as I cried, bled and walked through those doorways which seemed much wider than a regular door. I leaned it and I learned. I came out of it with growing edges, some which had been softened. I nurtured and healed with prayer, meditation and healing arts like journaling, SoulCollage, labyrinth, Reiki, and photography. Those healing arts helped me and that is why I became a facilitator for those processes because I know they work in as much as I allow them to work.
God blessed me with wonderful spiritual directors/companions including those individuals in my spiritual direction training program. (I personally prefer the term companion because it seems to be less hierarchical, less top-down.) The word companion, for me, creates a sense of freedom and nonjudgment. There is a dance with the Mystery of Grace from deep listening on her part and honest, vulnerable sharing on my part. A soul friend or companion listens with the heart and somehow through Grace provides what is needed.
I really don’t have fixes or answers to correct the mess. Here are my suggestions for self care during this time of transition: pray, meditate, take walks in nature, avoid numbing out with alcohol or other substances, get a journal and write in it daily if you can starting with things for which you are grateful. Practice the pause even if it is just 5 minutes of noticing your breath. Find a labyrinth near you and walk it – prayerfully. Here is some background about labyrinths and some tips for walking one. https://listening-heart.com/labyrinth/
Create something – a nature collage, sidewalk art, or learn SoulCollage®. I’m offering an online workshop via Zoom on Saturday, July 18, 2020 from 9 AM to Noon
Find yourself a trained spiritual companion who will deeply listen, hold space for you, and journey with you in this liminal space, this time of transition.
Journal Questions: What do you do for self-care during this time? Have you experienced liminal space in the past? What self-care practices have you added during this time? For what are you grateful? What do you need to let go of? What do you need to embrace? Are there specific areas of spiritual growth you desire? What is your vision for the next 6 months, year or 5 years? What wisdom would you give to your younger self 10 years ago to prepare for times like these?
Be well. Be safe. Blessings.
This blog is not intended to serve as individual spiritual direction. Spiritual direction and spiritual companioning is typically done face to face in a confidential setting and can be done via Zoom or FaceTime. If you would like to explore one on one spiritual companioning, group companioning, SoulCollage©, the Labyrinth or Reiki, please contact me. If you, your faith group, your church or your book club would like to know more about spiritual companioning, please contact me to schedule an informational workshop. In the meantime, my hope is that the photos and this blog serve as a pause in your day, food for thought, or just a reminder to breathe in and breathe out all that is holy and good. The Divine Milieu is all around us. Thank you all for your prayers and support.)