This morning, I woke to the smell of the ocean and the gentle shhuuush of waves lapping against rocks. In the soft grey pre-dawn, I am enfolded in the fog and mist of the coast of Maine. We are spending a few days with my in-laws, drinking in the last bit of seashore for awhile. One week ago, I woke to the sound of planes landing at Heathrow…and the view from the window was urban bustle. Yesterday we were with my father in his new home in the semi-rural area between Boston and Worcester. Early next week, we fly west to the mountains.
My great-grandmother didn’t see that many different landscapes in her entire lifetime.
As we prepare to cross the threshold from Beltane to Lughnasadh, from growth to harvest, I have been pondering the landscapes that nurture and sustain us, that shape us and challenge us, that support our first steps and receive our bodies or ashes at the last. Because I have been traveling through an ever-changing outer terrain for almost four months, I have been delighting in the amazing variety of crops around me…and pondering how varied my inner crops are when I pay attention to what is actually growing instead of what I expected would grow, or what I wanted to grow. [Click here How Does Your Garden Grow to read more reflection on this.]
I realize that I carry my inner geography with me over my whole temporal existence. That geography will change over time and across the seasons as any physical, outward geography does. I may notice that my garden is maturing steadily through abundant years and less abundant ones — the climbing roses now drape the trellises perfectly (or have needed to be replaced when they didn’t survive.) There are small, steady incremental changes that I may not apprehend for months — the Japanese maple is now taller than I am. And there can also be sudden and cataclysmic shifts: violent storms and gale-force winds may reshape my soul’s coastline or wreak havoc on the forests of my heart. Floods may cut new riverbeds or change the course of those already flowing. Years of unremitting dryness may create a spiritual desert.
Every year, that inner landscape shapes me as it unfolds through the stages of dormancy, growth, and harvest. It will never be totally predictable; it won’t divide neatly into perfectly even segments. There will be early plantings and late ones, early harvests and late ones. Some years may be very sparse and some may overflow with riches. But I have come to believe that a great part of our wisdom and our contentment comes from taking the time to identify what we have grown (especially if it was an unexpected crop) and to gather the harvest (even if it is something we aren’t sure we are going to like eating over the lean months.)
And so, I invite you to join me in considering this past season. Sometime over the next week or so (you don’t need to be obsessive about doing this before the first of August), you may want to take a hour (or ten minutes – let’s not be obsessive about how much time, either) to reflect on these questions (or one or two of them – we aren’t going to be obsessive about numbers). I do urge you to write your answers in your journal so that you can look back some day when you think nothing has changed in your life…and realize that things have changed. I tend to forget that I used to be somewhere else and I tend to ignore the small steps in my life. This is why I have a spiritual director – he doesn’t let me get away with selective amnesia.
I am going to return to some of the questions I posed last year at this time because they still challenge me to be thoughtful, and using them again reminds me that sometimes I need to rethink things. So:
- Where did you experience growth during these three months?
- Where did you notice your energy being over-extended or, conversely, under-utilized?
- From where do you draw uninterrupted power or energy to fuel your work and re-creation?
- What was the unexpected produce of this season?
- What were the blessings and challenges that shaped this season and affected the taste, texture, color, abundance of your harvest?
- What opportunities were you offered to stretch into greater strength, skill, vision, witness?
If you can, try to observe rather than judge. Observation opens our eyes and hearts to possibility, to wonder, to appreciation. Judgment closes us down and limits our energy and our creativity.
On Friday (31 July), you may want to release Beltane with these words, or you may want to use your own.
wrapped in the energy of long light,
drenched in heat,
thunderous in storm,
farewell me into the brisk air
and shortening days of autumn.
Travel onward with my gratitude
for your gifts:
the upwelling of veriditas,
the tangled beauty of stem and leaf,
the plumping of seed pod and rose hip.
May the blessings you brought
distil in my heart
to remind me of your radiant laughter
until we meet again.
And on Saturday (1 August) you may wish to welcome Lughnasadh. Here are the words I will be using.
Be welcome, Harvest-Reaper.
Come you in to share the Beltane bounty.
You bring the grace of measureless plenty:
health-giving sustenance of grain,
sharp sweetness of apple,
stored energy of acorn and almond,
fulfillment of hope,
strength of conviction,
ripeness of knowledge,
fruition of generosity,
delight of beauty,
anticipation of rest.
Be welcome. Be welcome.
Share soul-table and spirit-hearth.
Come you in.
Text © 2015, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2015 Immram Chara, LLC
NOTE: I will be returning to Denver shortly after the beginning of Lughnasadh. My Etsy shop will reopen and new cards will be available. As we start into autumn, I call your attention particularly to The Green Man. A new art piece or two will go up shortly…and I will celebrate my return with a give-away (so start compiling a list of your friends and family who might want to subscribe to my blog.)