All feels to be in stasis. We have had new snowfall where I live, and although it will not last, it is pulling me back into winter habits of hibernation rather than the energy of spring that I am longing for. We seem to be (crossing my fingers) finding our way out of the pandemic woods that we have been lost in for a year now, but between waiting for vaccines to be available, and for clarity about the impact of the new mutations, we are clearly not completely out of the woods yet. So now we are playing a waiting game, and we do not even know what exactly it is we are waiting for. It is clear that we will not return to what we thought of as our normal life, and most of us are probably considering that to be promising. Here, we are invited to change, whether we were ready or not. But what is going to be different? How do we envision the new normal that we want to commit to? How are we different already as a result of the events of the last year? I don’t know if I can remember another spring in my life that held so much uncertainty and also promise – both for my own life and for the world I live in.
The most immediate action to take in this situation is to come to center, find myself in the present moment and stay engaged in the here and now. I no longer have my battered copy of Ram Dass’ Be Here Now, but just visualizing the cover takes me to a time period when the idea of staying in the present moment felt foreign and difficult to accomplish for longer than a minute or two. I was so young back then and my thoughts flowed to the endless future I was racing toward as fast as an impatient fourteen year old girl can, imagining she can hurry life by her sheer will. The concept of embracing the present I was living back then – not of my own making but handed down to me by my parents and the adults who had brought that world into being without my input – was not what I was looking for. I wanted to be out on my own, creating my own life and reality based on my idealistic dreams.
Now, half a century later, the phrase has deep, rich meaning for me. The only moment I actually do get to add my two cents to is the present. It is in this present moment, when I, fully aware and intentional, have an opportunity to contribute to what future I will step into. So I can ask myself, today, at this moment, what future am I weaving for when the waiting is over?
Quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur.
Whatever is received is received according to the manner of the receiver. – old Latin proverb
I have been working on personal issues around receiving. It doesn’t seem like it should be difficult, but for many of us it is. We are taught to put others before ourselves, and to think of others’ needs before our own. While this sounds like reasonable advice on the surface, it has the potential to create adults who do not attend to their own needs, and therefore are always looking for their needs to be recognized and fulfilled by someone else; a perfect recipe for co-dependent relationships. Many adults are unable to identify their own needs, having grown up accustomed to a caretaker or other person addressing this for them. This seems to be the pattern at the heart of some of our power dysfunctions. What if, as children, we were taught to come first in our lives, not in a selfish way, but in a way that encouraged being able to identify what we need on a daily basis, and to provide for these needs, or feel comfortable asking for these needs to be provided? This would require that we felt and knew we deserve, and are valued enough, to have these needs and to expect them to be met. This creates a better possibility for power balance from an early age. It would teach us self-awareness, self-care as well as the need for reciprocating interactions with those around us. Some of the creepy passive-aggressive behavior aimed at getting un-admitted needs met could be avoided. But it also would mean we all might have to learn not only to give graciously, but receive just as graciously.
Just some musing that has been going on in the back of my brain as I enjoy longer daylight hours, the melting (and, yes, refreezing) of accumulated snow and ice. Over the weekend, right on the tails of the Snow Moon in February, we were delighted with a snowfall that coated everything with an elegant layer of snow. I was lucky enough to already have a trip planned that became the highlight of the month for me. I traipsed around one of Minnesota’s state parks and filled my heart with the breathtaking landscapes temporarily transformed by the fresh snow. It lasted just an hour or so before the sun broke through the clouds and all melted into mud. But what a lovely vision of winter into spring I witnessed, and I am holding the memories close. At this point of so many transitions, what memories will stay with you? What stories will you tell each other in the coming years about this winter, and the coming spring we are all waiting to receive?
This is the time of year that is considered by those in the northern hemisphere as the transition time between winter and spring. In Minnesota where I live, it is still cold and snowy and yet the sun is stronger (when we see it), the days are slowly growing longer, and the promise of warmer weather pulls us out of our deep winter rest and dreams toward the flicker of activating energy in the earth and within us. We see the tiny signs all around, and can feel ourselves awakening to new life in the world.
Like most of us, I am homebound as we enter our second year of this pandemic. I am biding my time working from home (I am one of the fortunate who can), filling my time with zoom rooms, books, movies, experimentative cooking, and taking free classes online. This at one time would have seemed like a gift to introverts like myself, but after almost a year of the experience, I know that most of us long to get out of houses, enjoy being with our friends and family in person rather than through screens, and have the opportunity to explore the world through travel and embodied reality, not simply the pictures and sounds that travel through digital channels.
We know there is a path into this future, although it may take time. For now, I am exploring tiny corners of my yard and neighborhood. Tracks in the snow tell me that we have squirrels, rabbits, and an enormous amount of winged creatures sharing this space. I make sure to fill the birdfeeders, and occasionally to scatter treats for the four legged, and I admire the lovely paths they leave in the fresh cover of snow.
What are the signs in your path? What are you able to take time to notice and take pleasure in during this pause we find ourselves in the midst of? What evidence of time passing and the seasons turning are available for you to include in your daily routine?