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On stings and letting go

September 24, 2016

fulll-labyrinthAt the conference I am attending, today is a day of silence, quiet, and reflection.  This makes my soul very happy.  We began the day in our normal rhythm, with breakfast.  Quickly, though, the day shifted as we gathered in the chapel to begin a period of silence.  The introduction was wonderful, with a litany for the church and a poem from David Whyte, who is one of my soul’s anchors.  Our invitation to silence began as the words of the poem ended, and I went straightaway to the labyrinth on the property.

The labyrinth has a lovely invitation with it, to follow the ancient wisdom of purgation as I walked inward, illumination once I reached the center, and union as I retraced my steps in the stone bound spiral.  beckwith-labyrinthThis is my kind of thing – silence, listening, deep thought and reflection, an opening of the soul.  As I stepped with great intention and began to settle into the rhythm, my heart opened and I began to pour through the purgation, letting all that I was carrying slowing come up so I could release it as I journeyed inward.  Soon began to surface the weight of my cares, the unspoken and often unwanted conflicts and shortcomings and disappointments.

And then the sharp pain began.  A powerful sting – not one, but two, then a third began.  Pulled from the hypnotic rhythm of my walking, I looked at my hand that was now beginning to throb – two, no three mosquitoes were perfectly perched on the back of my hand, tapped into my veins and sucking with all their might.  Jerking my hand, I slapped at them, missing the mark on one and catching the other two squaring as they sat feasting on my blood.

I wasn’t yet at the center of the labyrinth and began to move back into the gently rhythm of the walking.  Trying to re-center my mind and spirit, I found my thoughts and entered into the exercise.  Walking, rocking along, deep in thought, then Whap!  I involuntarily swatted at the next two comers who had perched on the other hand.  These tiny creatures, able to pull me so quickly out of my thoughts and elicit a strong physical response.  And that sting!  So strong, my body’s defenses kicking in before my mind even knew what was happening.  I came to a full stop – they had my attention now – and I calculated how much longer I would be walking, if there was something proactive I could do to keep these bites from hurting, if there was a different way to walk so I could avoid the mosquitoes all together.  What was my strategy?  I didn’t want to end the exercise covered in welts from the stinging bites.  But I didn’t want to stop either, to let the stings keep me from completing the gentle circles I was making and all that was unwinding within as I went.

I soon realized that this was in fact exactly the spiritual exercise I needed – the recognition of the sting.  In my soul, as I walked, my own woundedness was the weight that I felt.  And it was an important moment to recognize the sting of the things I was carrying, the way those cares elicit an involuntary pull on my energy, my psyche, my spirit, my soul.  labyrinth-1What stings are bringing reaction in my life?  Am I swatting at them, my focus pulled away from by the constant buzzing things that seems to suck the very lifeblood from me?  How am I going to care for myself once a sting occurs?   How am I going to equip myself, be proactive and keep the sting from happening?

I walked with purpose to the center and laid down the stinging bites that I had been carrying.  Strangely, I was thankful for those mosquitoes, for the sting they gave me.  Through the physical reality of the bite, I entered into a new clarity of the condition of my soul at that moment.  I sought solace and illumination there at the heart of the stones, giving over the stings to the great Healer.  And as I turned to walk the same path, now facing a new direction, I began to know the healing of union with the Source, the healing Balm of the world, of my soul.


From → On Faith

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