Goldfinch’s color is changing ever so slightly as he moves from summer’s bright yellow to flaxen in autumn. By the time the snow falls, he’ll be olive-gray. That same toning down starts to happen to me as hoodies come out of the closet and firewood is stacked by the backdoor. Subtle changes are obvious in me when I take a moment and notice what I notice.
But do I slow down and notice?
I jump on the Catastrophe Carousel and allow myself to be carried away by unrelenting news cycles full of heartbreaking disasters and political mayhem. I could not seem to stop myself. The more I tuned in the more I needed to know.
Truth be told, if it wasn’t for an insightful talk with my friend, Oriah, I’d still be riding in circles beleaguered by the latest “BREAKING NEWS!”
Rather than dropping in, I was spinning out – way out!
How do we face so much suffering at the hands of nature or deranged gunmen? How do we resist the crazy political chatter that can consume our attention? Through her observations and our conversation it became clear that the care and feeding of our souls has never been more important.
“What does resistance look like?” Oriah went on to ask. Resistance is pushing back, I think. Then I realize that creativity has always been my resistance against negative forces. Painting, creating programs, making things, writing often leaves me feeling energized and hopeful.
Then she said, “I say that your retreat in Taos was a form of resistance.”
She’s right. The retreat’s focus was maintaining a rich inner life. Dropping in, is a way to avoid being swept into chaotic energies.
I am an example of just how easy it is to lose that focus. It takes returning to a deeper inner awareness again and again.
After we hung up, I lit some sage and sweetgrass. I spent time in silence. I did not turn on the TV. I made a pledge to her and myself that I would not. I am not totally unplugging. Like the Goldfinch outside my window, I am toning down the intensity. I am looking for the best places where I can donate for the many disaster victims. I am finding ways to bring about the changes that seem needed, signing petitions, supporting candidates that offer hope not fear.
Spiritual practices are tested in times like these. They are designed to find balance amid uncertainty. Always the underlying questions are: What action can I take? Donations of help, goods and cash let me feel less powerless. How do I respond with respect to the highest good for others and myself?
Care of our inner life is critical now. Finding balance between looking out and looking in takes practice. Care for our inner life is a form of resistance at a time when heartrending events greet us too frequently.
I will not look away!
I will peer into my own heart. I will return to my breath. I will share my sadness in women’s circles. I will sit with my sorrow. I will create more programs that enhance a rich inner life.
I will notice changes in the color of leaves.
I will spend more time in silence.