Reminder: The clock is ticking on the Lughnasadh Give-Away and, so far, I don’t have a single entry for the drawing! Send the blog link to a friend. If he or she signs up and then clicks through to read the whole blog, you could win a set of six hand-made cards.
The harvest of our life is not a small gift to the world. It is, in fact, all we have to give. Literally. All. And we give it all eventually. Our choice isn’t really whether to give or not; it is whether to do so with intention or without.
As I wrote earlier in Lughnasadh, we are holy ground. We come from the dust of this holy planet home and our physical bodies return to it, to nourish the soil. But we are also something miraculously other and miraculously more: we are spirit and mind and soul and heart which exists in those physical bodies, but which also transcends them. We are something that remains in the memories and inspirations of those who live after us.
We are beings who have the privilege of embodying the life choices we make over weeks, and months, and years, and – for some of us – decades. We incarnate them, literally clothing them in bone and blood and sinew. Without our bodies, our values (our dreams, our work, our visions, our hope, our love) could not influence and transform time and space.
That influence and transformation is the unique, irreplaceable harvest of each unique, priceless life.
Now, let me back up a minute and be sure we are on the same page. When I say we embody our life choices and the values we hold, I mean the ones we really hold, not necessarily the ones we say we hold. Let’s not lie to ourselves. We can all talk the talk; that doesn’t mean we live it. So it is a worthwhile exercise to engage in some reality checking from time to time…just to notice where the talk has become an articulate, uplifting, self-aggrandizing illusion, and where it matches our actual behavior. Because, of course, that gives us the opportunity to change our priorities. Maybe we really want to be harvesting apples. It would be good to be sure we are planting apple trees, then, and not thistles or potatoes.
So, I invite you to take some time this week to write your spiritual obituary. Write it long-hand because our fingertips are the only part of our body besides our brains that contain grey matter. Writing is a way of thinking – really. You can write it in your journal, or draft it on some scrap paper and copy it into your journal if you are the kind of person who can’t stand looking at cross outs and inserts and mess.
Consider the harvest of your own life. If you were to step off a curb and get hit by a truck tomorrow, what would you most want people to remember about you, about the choices you made, about the values you upheld, and about the way you lived? List those qualities and next to each one list one concrete example that a friend might use in a eulogy: That time when….
Don’t worry about where you were born or your professional accomplishments. This is about the Self that both transcends and that undergirds all of the rest of it.
Concentrate on what you have actually done rather than on what you have thought or said. For instance, wanting people to remember that you treated the earth with respect is fine. Most of us would like that. But do you? How? Do you recycle? Walk, bike, or use public transport? Do you eat local foods? Organic foods? Do you treat the earth with respect…or is the frequently reiterated idea of sustainable living a way you put off an honest realignment of lifestyle?
Caveat: This is a reality check, which means you need to pay attention to the truth about your life. The whole truth. You need to pay attention to the small truths that we tend to ignore or dismiss. Unless Bishop Tutu is reading this blog without being signed up [Please let me know if you are, Bishop Tutu], none of us is a Nobel Peace Prize Recipient. But that doesn’t mean peace is not one of your lived values. Maybe you are committed to the hard work of reconciling with a family member who has rejected you. Maybe you practice respectful, non-violent communication with those across the aisle – whatever the aisle might be. Maybe you have forgiven someone who damaged your life irrevocably (as hard as that is or as imperfectly as you are doing it sometimes).
You may want to invite a good friend to reflect with you about what you may have left out. Because most of us leave out more of our true values, than we claim theoretical values. This exercise should not not not be an exercise in shame. This is not about beating your chest and muttering ‘mea culpa’ under your breath until you are thoroughly demoralized. This is about naming the unique, precious harvest that is your life.
Example: I am not a person who will be remembered as a peace-maker; as much as I value peace, it is not my harvest. Yes, I try not to create conflict or dissension; I try to treat everyone with dignity and respect; I try to breathe deeply and bite my tongue when I want to say something cutting and hurtful. But I am not a peace-maker any more than a raspberry cane will produce a harvest of lilies. I am a beauty-bringer. Everything I do is done with beauty. I collect beauty, and I upcycle, recycle, and create it. If I ever ended up living in a landfill, I would be puttering around, rearranging and sorting to make it look good. The world is just a little more beautiful because I have lived. Whatever the totality of my harvest is, beauty is in there as an underlying principle.
May you be blessed this week to name some of your harvest, with awe, with joy, with pride. And may these words (or your own) settle into your voice as you work.
The furrows of my heart have cradled rhizomes of hope,
let me unfold sun-bright blossoms scented with glory.
The furrows of my soul have been sown with love;
let me bear grain heavy-headed with nourishment.
The furrows of my spirit have been carved deep
to receive the seeds of
the holy desire of the universe to be incarnate grace;
let me be the sacred body
whose every breath is blessing.
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2014, Immram Chara, LLC
NOTE: Both photos are close-ups of fiber art pieces. The corn is the drop on Maize Mother which can be seen in the Archives this season. The pomegranate comes from Focus: Rebirth which is available from my Etsy Shop.