Emergent Strategy

Water In Wood, artist unknown.

“…see something impossible….

as not only a possible way forward,

but as the best way forward.”

(from Emergent Strategy, by Adrienne Maree Brown.)


…every breath, a prayer.

“There is a music that is always being played by nature, whose channel we occasionally dial into when our hearts are at rest. It is an improvisational music, which, like the pilgrim, trusts where it may be led. Like unceasing prayer, the invitational heart allows itself to be played like an instrument would. “

(From Belonging, by Toko-Pa Turner.)


Spring Equinox

I spent most of this past week again at The Ruah Center, honoring the new moon and the turn to spring, playing in the woods, making art, and soaking in the stillness.

Winter was a lesson in letting go. After returning from India last fall, I fought a growing sense of unease and did my best to push it all aside and get back to “normal.” (Whatever that means.) That unease soon became a full blown crisis, which only abated very recently, when I slowed down.

I took a break from searching the job boards. Instead, I tried to coax my anxious heart and mind into sitting still long enough to read or draw. It’s incredible– it’s been almost a year since I quit working, and I’m still undoing the insane idea that I MUST be productive, at all times and at all costs. Reading and drawing and walking feel like precious and sometimes dangerous luxuries.

I’ve now spent time in two silent retreats at Ruah. There is something about the firmness of an old, elegant church building that ignites in me a longing for roots and home. Perhaps it’s also a faint nostalgia for my early Catholic childhood, a time in my life that was so sweet and predictable compared to my adolescent and adult years.

I’ve realized that years of moving from place to place and wandering aimlessly has left me soul-fractured, disconnected, and bone-tired. This prayer, a prayer for healing, home and roots, along with so many other prayers and buried longings, spilled out of me as I wept in the church cemetery on the morning of the equinox. I’d felt so angry and exhausted and frustrated and hopeless, and each sob was another miracle in letting go.

That same afternoon, on the rooftop garden, I had a vision of the Goddess in the hollow of a magnolia tree. What followed was a blur, an outpouring of grace and affection that was so profound that it is impossible to describe here. I’ve carried her simple, resounding message in my heart since:

I hear you.

The earth is blooming. And for the first time in months, I feel like I can carry on and walk forward, one tiny step at a time.

New Moon in Pisces

Fairy Glen
Faerie Glen, Isle of Skye, Scotland. (Image source here.)

“Blessed be the longing that brought you here

And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire

That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.”

–John O’Donahue

On Grief

River and Path, photographer unknown

Grief is the expression of healing in motion. As you make the seemingly bottomless descent, it helps to remember that grief is the downpour your soul has been thirsting for. Because what remains hidden for too long doesn’t change. It is calcified in place, often sealed by shame, left untouched and forgotten by time. But when it can finally come into the open to be seen, it is exposed to new conditions and it begins to move. It rises on a salty geyser of tears, sometimes sung to the surface by a terrific moan, streaming down our cheeks until it moistens the soil where we stand, preparing us for new growth.

Have you ever noticed how beautiful a person is after they’ve wept? It’s as if they are made new again by the baptism of tears. Indeed, when something stuck can be released through grief, we are freeing up a greater capacity to love.”

Wiser and Wilder

“There comes a day, somewhere in the middle of every woman’s life, when Mother Nature herself stands behind us and wraps her arms around our shoulders, whispering, ‘It’s time.’

‘You have taken enough now. It’s time to stop growing up, stop growing older and start growing wiser and wilder.

There are adventures still waiting on you and this time, you will enjoy them with the vision of wisdom and the companionship of hindsight, and you will really let go.

It’s time to stop the madness of comparison and the ridicule of schedule and conformity and start experiencing the joys that a life, free of containment and guilt, can bring.’

She will shake your shoulders gently and remind you that you’ve done your bit. You’ve given too much, cared too much, you’ve suffered too much.

You’ve bought the book, as it were, and worn the t-shirt.

Worse, you’ve worn the chains and carried the weight of a burden far too heavy for your shoulders.

‘It’s time,’ she will say.

‘Let it go, really let it go and feel the freedom of the fresh, clean spaces within you. Fill them with discovery, love and laughter. Fill yourself so full you will no longer fear what is ahead and instead you will greet each day with the excitement of a child.’

She will remind you that if you choose to stop caring what other people think of you and instead care what you think of you, you will experience a new era of your life you never dreamed possible.

‘It’s time,’ she will say, ‘to write the ending, or new beginning, of your own story.’”

~ Donna Ashwort