Tag Archives: seasons

Year of Self-Compassion #14 #gut

Sitting in the sun today, wondering what April is thinking having all these warm days in a row. The vines are turning golden and getting very dry around the edges, the garden is thirsty and winter clothes remain tucked up in the wardrobe. At this rate it is unlikely we will be pulling on hats and coats, scarves and gloves anytime soon. While we might be ready the elements have another idea. The weather often serves as a perfect metaphor, all the senses alerted and the skin transmitting osmotic advice deeper into the body.

With the warmth still in the ground and hardening, becoming more dusty underfoot, it is easy to slip into consideration of times where every bit of goodness is being sucked out of solid foundations. Sun-rays drawing the moisture out of the earth seem to get stronger as the day gets longer before Sister Wind has a go at blowing her gentle, autumnal breathe, to remind us that the season is changing even though all the signs aren’t there yet. There are glimpses of change in the landscape, sometimes ambiguous, a flowering that is early or late, a billowing sail through the trees as night falls, a bird that has usually left by now, still in the garden. Grief is like this too, sometimes the season starts when we aren’t ready, although we have known for years the due date; sometimes there are surprises or mis=steps to bring more complexity to what should be routine or predictable. Grief offers a master class each day in ambiguity – where memories make the decision of what serves you to be re-membered or best left on the shelf. There is an empty pit deep in my stomach and I am shifting my attention away from the emptiness to the lining of my belly which is holding this space. I hold space as a professional practice, and now I am literally getting a lesson from the inside about holding space. I haven’t even noticed that the space was being held, such is the high quality of the holding. This noticing is giving a whole new sense of respect for one part of me taking its turn for another bit to do the work.

The calendar holds the space for the month, all the while, the days and nights will do what they need to do in that space. The great Holding to match Never Ending Story’s the Nothing. My stomach has been a great informer on my well-being on this journey of late, as effective as any barometer for the seasonal change. There is so much information now about the gut, gut health and how it is our second brain and we now know there are about about a hundred million neurones in our intestines. The gut brain helps us with our gut feelings and therein lies a bit of secret – the gut and feelings – being paired. I have been reflecting not just on my own body, but those bodies I have known who have had gut reactions in their life – some of them pretty alarming – like bowel cancer, anorexia or bulimia, over-eating, gagging or choking on food. I am seeing all these as the gut brain talking and sending signals and deciphering and listening to this brain is a way to access and trust feelings. I have made some regretful decisions because I have felt with my head, rather than with what my gut was telling me. Now I want to honour that part of my body not just for its self, but also for its capacity to protect me, if only I let it.

Just as the sun comes when I want the next season to line up with the calendar, and my gut brain to align with my head brain, the elements will have their way to poke and point me to safety if only I get it the attention it has earnt and deserves. Just as the earth turns on her axis, and all our stomach turn and churn what we put into them, so new intelligence forms about the season we are in (and I can’t help with a pun courtesy Ecclesiastics and Pete Seeger – to every season, turn, turn, turn.)

I give thanks for the lining that holds the space, where it can hold butterflies, or allow a chasm so deep and wide it feels like an out-of-body experience. It might be time for some digestive healing, to “trust my gut” and feel through the walls who are holding the space for me to have the feelings in the first place.

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Promises to tomorrow #43 #turn

In this past week several people from a range of parts of my life have given me clear advice saying; “It’s your turn now”. Reflecting on my turn … my turn for what? To be nurtured? To be sick? To take up my old life? To create a new one? To turn towards? To turn away? What does it mean to turn? I can’t help but to go to Ecclesiastes for that timeless poetry Pete Seeger put to music in the 1950s:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

This has indeed been a season in my life – a long 9 year season, as I’ve written before, an ultra marathon. It has been a time where the purpose of heaven revealed itself a little more everyday. The incredible patience and diligence to stay the course. A dear sojourner of Tim’s, a wise elder in his life, wrote to me this week saying “Tim taught us how to live and how to die”. What if we lived knowing we had a terminal illness – which of course we all do – we are all dying each day – and yet how many of us embrace and savour the moments we have and saturate ourselves in joy? Br David talks about grateful living, which is beyond living with gratitude. It is a disciplined practice to live this way and one Br David’s 90+ years are testament.

The time to be born is in each and every single moment, to awaken to the moment with the bewilderment and openness of surprise without being hindered by expectations sitting on the precipice of disappointment. The time to die is embodied in every moment – the dying to ego and false self is an invitation that keeps arriving. The times for planting and reaping are never ending too, with the seasons coming and going with natural rhythm, and don’t stop just because our needs are changing, the sun continues to revolve around our little blue planet.

Times to kill and heal – killing off our bad choices, discomfort and anxieties can be inoculated or matched by acts of self-healing, and allowing others and nature to bring therapeutic and restorative powers. The gleeful giggle of a toddler will banish just about any thoughts of destruction. Yet we live in a time where peace in the lives of so many is for self-destruction and self-harm, let alone the national acts of killing that go on in our name. How easy is it to turn towards the joy, the peace?

The everyday choices we make towards make a difference to others, but most importantly to ourselves. Listening to Gill Hicks last night at a dinner to raise funds for a dinner for a peace foundation she re-told her own experience of making a choice for life when the seductive voice of death came calling and the choices a 19 year old suicide bomber made on that fateful day in 2005. Because of his decision, thousands of lives were changed that day and every day forthwith.

The times we have to weep, laugh, mourn, dance, embrace, cast away stones, and gather stones together …. these are those times. All mixed together times to turn toward and away from emotions, reflection and actions. All of these bundled up in every season of our life. And that life is a time of living and dying and we need to behave as if that is true (it is true) in order to squeeze all the joy out of all the moments so we can turn, turn, turn … keeping turning towards the light knowing that even in that light there will be shadows and times of darkness …because how else would be know the light without the darkness? And we all know that it only takes a spark to dispel the darkness.

My promise to tomorrow is to take my turn, as it is being offered, and at each turn make the choice to turn toward, to embrace, the season on offer, to greet it with the wonder and awe it offers unconditionally. After all, it is, always your turn.

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