lodgings

“Hiding is one of the brilliant and virtuoso practices of almost every part of the natural world: the protective quiet of an icy northern landscape, the held bud of a future summer rose, the snow bound internal pulse of the hibernating bear.
Hiding is underestimated. We are hidden by life in our mother’s womb until we grow and ready ourselves for our first appearance in the lighted world; to appear too early in that world is to find ourselves with the immediate necessity for outside intensive care.
 Hiding done properly is the internal faithful promise for a proper future emergence, as embryos, as children or even as emerging adults in retreat from the names that have caught us and imprisoned us, often in ways where we have been too easily seen and too easily named.
Hiding is an act of freedom from the misunderstanding of others, from mistaken ideas we have about our selves. Hiding is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive. Hiding is the radical independence necessary for our emergence into the light of a proper human future.” – David Whyte

I felt like hibernating this morning. Honestly, that’s a common feeling for me this time of year. My body feels so out of sync with the busyness thrust upon me, when my natural instincts are urging me to slow down, grow still, be quiet. ( I KNOW I’m not alone here, though we are told there’s something WRONG with feeling this way. It’s labeled as a ‘seasonal disorder’, but perhaps we are supposed to settle in to the darkness, grow slower, quieter, more introspective. Perhaps we have forgotten how, or are no longer given the tools, to be with the darkness we encounter there without perceiving it as something to run from. I wonder if it’s possible instead to name the darkness as embrace)

But this year, this season, in particular, with the freshness of this recent grief, I am even moreso feeling the pull of the earth, urging me to stillness. With the solstice just around the curve, the day where even the sun appears to stand ‘still’ to those of us on earth who are attuned to her trajectory, I am being drawn like gravity toward her wholeness.

And yet this morning, I awakened early, the grayness of predawn mirroring my grief, with another obligation on my calendar and few precious hours to myself before I was required to show up with my light on. There ensued, intitiated by me, an hour long, quiet and connective text conversation with a sister-friend that allowed me to reach out from within my solitary watery realm, to love and be loved. No, I am not in some sort of free fall into a pit from which I won’t emerge. There is nourishment in here for me.

Yes, there is pain, but it is not defining me the way I have at other times in my life allowed it to do. Nor do I need to label this pain as ‘brokenness’, as if there is something wrong with me for feeling, or even as if there is something wrong with pain itself. 

From this ripped opened depth in me, I have been noticing—there are a lot of other human beings who feel this pain too. Broken relationships, painful interactions, feelings of alienation and disconnection, tragic misunderstandings, feelings of invisibility and marginalization, loneliness, insecurity and outright rejection, are internalized by the precious individuals who experience them as a belief that they are tragically flawed for feeling them.  There are a lot of people feeling longing who are labeling it as brokenness. There are a lot of people who are feeling hunger who are labeling it as sickness. It’s hard to just sit with darkness and let it be what it is without judging it as worthy of banishment or shame, or conversely binging upon some remedial feel good fix. It’s difficult to accept pain without branding it as bad or assigning to it blame, to simply let it be human, with tenderness and compassion. 

By the time I reached out to my sister on the phone, much later in this slow morning, I was feeling more at ease. (The inclement weather outside my window had cancelled my plans and graced me with the unexpected time to be still and to listen, without judgment or expectation, a little while longer) She has been aware of my dis-ease of late and I wonder if she was confused by my seeming quiet contentment. I had awakened feeling weary, feeling sorrow, feeling dread, but by now I was feeling quiet peace, hope, connection, love, relief.

It might appear to be incongruous, to be experiencing moments of contentment and peace right in the midst of experiencing intense sorrow, to be feeling beloved in the midst of feeling despised, to experience peace in the midst of dis-ease. I suppose I could label that as inappropriate, dissociated (or at least divided), as if this being human is an all or nothing deal. As if there is one right way to feel or express. But being human is not an either/or; it is a both/and, where neither ‘side’ is right or wrong. 

We contain multitudes, and our hearts have the capacity to hold more than we have been taught is right or true or possible. At least for today, I am choosing to see the my capacity to gently hold all of these disparate parts of me as a sign of wholeness. I do not have to feel “good” to be ok. I suspect this gift of being still with it, of hibernating, if you will, to simply observe it, let it be what it needs to be, is essential for such wholeness in me to emerge. 


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
asa guide from beyond.

Rumi

Beavers hibernate beneath the ice that blankets their underwater world, within that world of safety they so carefully tend. Before they turn inward with the freeze-over of the ice,  they are diligent to gather the nourishment they will need to survive those months of being cocooned within that darkness.  Cutting, dragging, and impaling branches of birch, aspen, willow into the mud at the bottom of the pond, just below the entrance to their hearth (notice the closeness of that word with ‘heart’), they are prepared for winter’s blast. They need simply dive to the bottom to retrieve what they have cached away for such a time as this.

My phone calls and texts to my sisters today were one way in which I accessed such a cache of nurture for myself, and when I had had enough paddling in those waters, I was able to swim back up into the protective closeness of the lodge for rest. Writing these words offers another source of nourishment. There is reading, walking, watching the rain (and the last of the leaves) fall, listening to soothing music, looking for beauty through the lens of loving awareness, moving into quiet stillness. In any of these ways, I can pay attention to the darkness without rejecting anything as unwanted or inappropriate.

This ice will thaw. That I can trust. Seasons come and seasons go, each, even the harsh ones, gifting me with a new ring of growth that will offer up its own nourishment one day, in time of hunger or of need.  I will trust my instincts today, that my body and my soul know exactly the shelter….and the nurture… that I need, and I will rest in this gentle, quiet stillness.


“Listen to your life.

See if for the fathomless mystery that it is.

In the boredom and pain of it,

no less than in the excitement and gladness…

because in the last analysis all moments are key moments and life itself is grace.”

-Frederick Buechner

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