The early harvests are being gathered. The Farmer’s Markets are displaying a different level of abundance than they did over the summer months – although here in Colorado it has been a difficult summer for crops. Unseasonably cool temperatures extended well into June, there was a lot of unusual rain, and hailstorms have shredded leaves and stems repeatedly. Yet the crops have struggled back, answering their irresistible call to produce blossom and fruit.
Our spiritual harvests are equally prone to strange and unexpected occurrences: inner hail and flood and cold. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are unfruitful. Yes, some years produce more abundantly than others, and certainly some feel more energetic than others. But that does not mean those years are better, any more than the largest fruit is necessarily the tastiest. Sometimes smaller or sparser is more distilled and richer in flavor. Sometimes we discover that the fruit that comes after long struggle, hard work, and copious tears sustains us longer than the crops into which we have not poured quite so much heart and soul.
Let me be clear that I am not saying misery (whether it is poverty, oppression, despair, or pain) is a valuable end in itself, but (rather) that the easiest harvests are not always the ones that give us the strength to face the changes and chances and trials of life. And, while I have not done a statistical study of the subject, my anecdotal experience is that the life choices and events that transform us, temper us, and distill us into our purest essence frequently (always?) are those which challenge us and stretch us beyond what we believe we can withstand. And we often are not even aware how much we have changed and grown and blossomed on the way through what felt like mere survival or by-the-fingernails endurance.
Humility is not a bad quality, but every once in awhile it can be important to notice and name the gifts and strengths that have grown from our life blood, in which we can take justifiable pride. A gentle reality check that quietly and gratefully acknowledges our deep places of maturity and wisdom, can prepare us to be more generous in spirit, ready to gift and bless the world from the (yes) abundance of our inner resources.
So, I invite you to join me in some reflection about the irresistible call that has shaped and nurtured those resources within you.
Close your eyes if you are comfortable doing that. Or you may prefer to use the flame of the candle as a focus point to help your mind be still. Become aware of your breathing and allow it to be slow and deep. When you feel centered and calm, invite your right brain to offer you sensory memories of your irresistible call from G-d (or of the sacred pulse of the universe, the Holy One, Creator-Creation – however you name the power that invites you to be most fully you, most whole and complete and alive).
Allow all your senses to be richly at work, helping you follow those memories as far back into your childhood as possible. Let the memories be a thread or a pathway that leads you into your past while still connecting to your present.
You may have experienced or currently experience your call most clearly in your daily work, or in relationships, or in your avocation. Maybe it is most obvious in your volunteer outreach, or in a particular gift or skill. Perhaps it has been manifest in different areas of your life or embodied in different ways over time.
As you continue to breathe deeply, invite your creative brain to offer you symbols or images of your unique call: the Sacred Unique inviting your own unique image to flower. When you can ‘see’ these images in your mind, open your eyes and take a piece of paper.
Fold the paper until you have 8 or more squares or strips. Draw [or create a picture from magazine images, if you prefer] a “quilt” of the symbols or images that represent your call as you have lived it (be aware of the ways you have felt it, heard it, tasted it, smelled it). You may want to repeat one symbol, using different colors. You may want each square or strip to be different. You may want to repeat a symbol in various sizes, or highlight different details of a single image.
Perhaps what you have drawn can function as a coat of arms, an icon of your inner source of fruitful restoration or renewing power. Perhaps it is a visible manifestation of the channel through which flows the reciprocal energy between you and All-That-Is. At least once more this week, reflect on your unique, irresistible call. Take some time to consider the sound (feel, taste, texture) of that call in times when it seemed crystal clear and vibrantly present; and take an equal amount of time to remember it when it came through the static of competing voices.
The long road to maturity leads through satisfaction and self-judgment, through trust and discouragement, through fear and love, through generosity and resistance. We want to cling to moments that feel practically perfect only to have them vanish in a mist; and we want to circumvent the raw places of disgrace or despair especially when they seem endless and endlessly repeating. The weather of our inner life is no more predictable than the weather of our outer life.
With what honesty I can muster in the face of the harvests of which I am most proud and those which I most wish to forget, I offer this prayer-poem. If it speaks to you, please accept it as a gift.
Be in me growth I cannot resist,
endurance I cannot measure,
joy I cannot anticipate.
Be in me the compassion that heals my shame,
the love that dispels my anger,
the hope that overcomes my fear.
Be in me forgiveness for the hurtful words I have received,
the hurtful thoughts that haunt me,
the hurtful acts I have done.
Be in me the hospitality that persists beyond rejection,
the wholeness greater than exclusion,
the mercy too great to be dismissed.
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2014, 2011, Immram Chara, LLC
Note: “Balance” is available as both a card and a print at my Etsy shop. The photo of beets is available by special order.