4:25 AM. Darkness surrounds me. Don’s sound asleep upstairs. I’m nestled in the living room window seat. A favorite place to perch for the ten years this house was ours in Ouray, Colorado. Now we rent this mountain home from its new owners. Outside my window stars spill across an indigo predawn sky. Bold outlines of towering pines slowly become visible. Their branches sparkle with stars as though carefully placed there. I wonder, who was it that looked up, saw stars dancing on branches and then created the tradition of Christmas tree lights? Surely some mesmerized person wanted to celebrate a moment much like the one I now enjoy.

The night sky enraptures me in Ouray. This is a magical place.

Here my dreams become intense and sometimes even prophetic.

Last night was no exception. An angel appears in my dream. He doesn’t speak, but guides me to a platform where I view the future. Humanity will face huge challenges, conflicts, confrontations, unrest, weather disasters and more. I see it all in the blink of an eye. Then I view my own future that’s full of joy and struggles. In a split second, I am back in the present moment. The angel stands next to me. He says nothing. Yet, I’m left with an awareness that even though it’s hard, especially in certain parts, life works out.

Dreams like these come to me from time to time with important messages. I can’t explain them. I rarely talk about them. I don’t even consider myself to be an “angel person.” This dream left me feeling peaceful. It also left me with this question, what does “life works out” mean?”

As a recovering control freak with perfectionist tendencies, I am leery of such ideas. Life can often find me trying to move my world and its reluctant inhabitants in a favorable direction. I do loosen my tightfisted grip at times and see that a mindful response is more satisfying. Of course, this is easier to do when things are flowing my way. The real test is when I am unhappy with my situation.

When we know life will work out, what is there for us to do? Can I sit back and go with the “flow?” Or does that lead to what I call “spiritual passivity?”

Acceptance can be a great wisdom, or it can be a way to dodge a challenge. Spiritual passivity shows up in phrases like, God wouldn’t give you more than you can handle. Or everything works out for the best.

Statements like these are meant to release us from concerns. But they often imply there is nothing you can do or need to do. They can let us confuse acceptance for passivity. When I am faced with a challenge, I first need to embrace the moment, see what is being presented and decide if I need to act.

Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, explores this concept in an interview. Here is his response about going with the flow… So “going with the flow” is not necessarily true surrender and may lead to passivity, lethargy and inaction. Surrender to the Now is something very different because it only concerns accepting the reality of this moment. Whatever action is needed will then rise out of that state of complete acceptance.

It takes a lot of energy to fight against the way things are. I say this because my recovery process is ongoing. I still fall into thinking I am in control. Predawn mornings like mine in Ouray remind me that we are all part of an unknowable mystery. Our engagement with this mystery is part of it “working out.” 

Mindful responses to challenges is my current curriculum.
· Embrace the moment
· See what is being presented
· Decide if I need to act or not

There is a great mystery that moves through all life.  It invites us to be present and engage with it.  This is how I wrote about it in Unfolding

“A great mystery lives within us. It sits with us as we flip from channel to channel. It watches as we scoop ice cream from the freezer. It stares as we pour another glass of wine. It leans against the sink as we brush our teeth, waiting and wondering—when will we notice?”

A search of the internet tells me it was Martin Luther, the sixteenth century theologian, who began the lighted tree tradition. He wanted to recreate for his wife what he experienced on his walk home through a pine forest on Christmas eve. He was awestruck by starlit pine branches. He cut down a tree, carried it home, and placed tiny candles on it. He brought the Christmas night sky home to share with her.

Like Martin Luther, I see an unfolding mystery in the night sky. It reminds me that I am not really in charge, no matter how hard I try.  Yet, my engagement is an important part of the mystery.



Photo Credit: Creative Commons CCC

4 thoughts on “Trusting”

  1. Nancy, what a lovely insightful rumination on the age old questions about the difference between acceptance and inertia, surrender and giving up. It dovetails nicely with my own mental meanderings about the difference between hope and denial. May the new year keep us puzzling over what these words mean in our human lives. Happy New Year dear friend.

  2. Happy New Year to you dear friend. I am always struck by the way our paths seem to follow a similar direction. How do I surrender at the same time knowing that my interaction can make a difference? A puzzle for sure. I love being of a certain age that gives me a chance to ruminate over questions that are important to me. I added a line or two since you first read this post. Been having some internet problems and couldn’t make any edits for a few days. Thanks for your insightful response.

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