“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from…
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning…”
These words from TS Eliot in Little Giddings, the last of The Four Quartets written in the early part of World War II in London, are timely. In the UK we are currently in the chaos of Brexit, but we are not alone in experiencing events that are hard to fathom.
Whilst this reflection isn’t about world events, our own stories are embedded in the world we live in. And these words ring true for us as individuals and communities of people who want to make a positive difference, today.
In the cycles of life and death, of stories with beginnings, middles and endings, there is ultimately no discontinuity. Just pause and transition. We are all part of a bigger story.
So who we are and what we do is not an end in itself. What we bring adds to what others have brought before us. And we create a platform for others to grow and flourish.
In this context, each decision and each step we take is both huge and tiny. If we only hold a short-term perspective: it is massive. And that can paralyse us from doing anything.
How daft, when actually we only ever feel our way forwards in a zig-zag motion… because we are all human.
Back to the start
The further I get from my beginnings, the more clearly I see that who I am and what I am here to do is wrapped up in my DNA. Not a simplistic response to my genetic code, but appreciation of the unique essence of who I am created to be. And the seeds that have been planted along the way that thrive in my ‘me-ness’.
Whilst some of the seeds take time to germinate – and I have to both wait and cooperate with that process – they are still there. And they share a likeness.
We know from managing the valley with its diverse habitats, that different organisms – plants, birds, animals, insects – prefer different places to thrive. Yes, I know that we can function out of our natural environment for a time. But we don’t thrive and it’s a relief to be on home-ground again.
I’m not talking about whether it’s easy or not… Just whether we can flourish. Bring our true selves and offer our best contributions. Others sense it too.
Looking back to the start can help us discern the patterns that aren’t so clear when we’re close up and in the middle of things. What do we notice about what was going on when we were in our best space? When did we have the sense of being fully alive and present? What has stood the test of time?
These characteristics rarely fit a label. You are not in a box. But perhaps they show up as a narrative, which gives you a sense of direction and purpose. The story that is your life, and no-one else’s.
The thing about real stories is that they are never finally over, just paused or in transition. They don’t stand alone, they are part of a much bigger drama.
And the end is where we start from.
Thanks for being part of my story just now. I appreciate your presence.
It’s been an interesting week exploring stories and the change we want to make.
- Monday: Sprouting seeds
- Tuesday: Looking from the wrong end
- Wednesday: The power of stories
- Thursday: Beginnings, middles and ends
- Friday: Small arcs of meaning