I’ve been a bit out of sorts lately. Tense. A feeling of tightness in my heart, for no particular reason. But I know the difference between how I’ve been feeling and what it feels like to feel content and relaxed and happy.
Why, you ask? Oh well, there’s the big stuff like the imminent climate emergency and destruction of the planet we depend on for life. (The planet will survive, by the way, but perhaps not all of us).
And then there’s the daily grind. I’ve never been one for the 9 to 5. But that’s life right now, for the most part.
There’s a desire to hide, to disconnect, to retreat. Yet a resistance to that. A resistance to the natural and needed winter phase. There’s a judgement on my self to do, and be, and connect, and socialise.
There are shifts and changes in relationships. Petty squabbles.
Yet, there is change ahead. Last week was winter solstice. The middle of the darkness. The beginning of the light.
And perhaps that’s where the world is in general. The middle of the darkness. The beginning of the light.
There’s a discipline required to remember and embody light in the midst of all this darkness. To be the seed. In the yin yang symbol that’s the white circle in the solid black section. A reminder that the seed of spring exists in the middle of winter. And the seed of autumn in the middle of summer. We grow to die. We die to be renewed.
Whoa, we just got deep. But perhaps it’s true. (perhaps is my favourite word today ;-))
And in the remembrance of death, in grief, there is a coming together. A reminder of our connection. An appreciation for life.
A young man in my local community died recently. I’d never met him. Yet the outpouring of love, the stories told, and the honouring of his life, have been beautiful to witness.
The love he shared is magnified by his death, and I’ve experienced that love too, even without knowing him in life.
Brené Brown, in her research on belonging, found that it’s through shared experiences of pain and shared experiences of joy that we remember our connection to each other. A connection grounded in love and compassion. Grief is a great equaliser. As is joy.
Funerals, sporting events (this is a hard one for me to follow - sometimes I’m quite judgy about some people’s emotional involvement with football - yet now I may have to concede it’s value!!), music, celebrations. The good and the bad. The pain and the joy. This is what brings us together.
Even if you disagree about politics, even if you were arguing yesterday - to know and experience our intrinsic connectedness - this is the gift of life, and the gift of death.
How do you experience this in your life? Do you show up to the intensity of life? To the intensity of grief? The intensity of joy?
It’s easy to hide. I know. I do it too. But what all of this has taught me is that I don’t need to just be mindful, to meditate everyday, to internally process - although all this is helpful. But I need to show up to life. To commit to participate and to open wide to all of the joy and pain.
So, I’m not going to start watching football. There I draw a line. But I’ve bought tickets to see the Soweto Gospel Choir with a friend whose mother is dying. To remember joy.
And I’ll celebrate life through ceremony, ritual, parties, festivals, and funerals.
The added benefit of all of this. According to Brené’s research. The capacity to be more authentic. More fully myself. To take more risks. Paradoxically, to stand apart. Because with the knowledge and experience of our intrinsic connection, rejection no longer exists.
To believe in and belong to myself so fully that I can more courageously stand alone. And in that aloneness, belong. Because true belonging is elusively out of reach unless it’s the most authentic expression of myself that belongs.
All that said. My authentic self craves solitude. Reflection. Nature. And so in order to find more belonging, I choose for now to retreat.
I’m so grateful for what we’ve created with Radiant Woman: A Mother Daughter Rite of Passage Retreat. It holds me in that aloneness. Because I know in October I’ll experience this again. Tears of shared pain, listening to women’s stories. Tears of mothers’ grief letting go of the child they’ve held so close. And tears and tears and tears of joy witnessing these young women being celebrated and honoured for their unique gifts and strengths by their mothers and wider community.
Please join us. More info HERE.