Sleep and I don’t have a very good relationship. Sometimes we’re on, and sometimes not. At the moment we’re alternating nights.
Yet I know that stepping into a new beginning – of whatever kind – does require some level of rest. Being anxious about not sleeping isn’t going to help. So I try not to get too ‘sweaty Betty’ about it all.
Earlier this week, when thinking about moving forward with my compass, I had an extraordinary night. It’s a good job I actually enjoy being curled up in bed, because sleep was seriously elusive. So rather than continue to mull over what my next steps should be, I did a thought experiment. What would it feel like to be facing in the right direction, but walking backwards? One foot behind the other…
It actually felt surreally scary. I couldn’t see what I was stepping back onto, and certainly didn’t want to risk going there. When I fully came to in the morning, I had the opening lines from Antonio Machado’s poem ‘Last night as I was sleeping’ running through my head. And I laughed out loud.
My challenge the previous night had been one of those ‘squaring-the-proverbial-circle’ types. Currently, our farm and household outgoings exceed our incomings and we’re struggling to find a way to bridge the gap quickly enough. The enormity can be paralysing. But I don’t want to let go of the change we are seeking to make
With the dawn comes an email from our quiet disruptor friend Amos Doornbos, with a link to Henri Nouwen’s meditation: ‘Enough light for the next step’. In it, I recognised my desire for the surety of the step after next, but the offering is simply one step at a time.
It’s true. We can see enough to keep moving forward. Just.
And with it comes a sense of relief and joy. That whilst we have a part to play, it’s not all down to us. Our individual role in the ongoing creation of the world is part of something much bigger. And maybe that’s why we can’t see it all – just yet.
Of course, this doesn’t stop us feeling vulnerable. But enough light is sufficient to enjoy what we can see and ‘be surprised at how far we go’.
So I am open to joy and being surprised. It’s heaps better than walking backwards!
Amos’ email, and others I received during the week, also reminded me of the importance of being connected. And, oh yes, this also involves courage and vulnerability.
To be really connected, we need to be open. And to be open is to acknowledge our incompleteness. I suspect that this is not always easy territory for quiet disruptors, certainly not for me. I don’t like admitting I have needs.
However, this is also part of finding a place of rest. If I always feel like I’m the one who has to remain standing and I can’t rely on anyone else, then I become tired and weary. I’ve been there and I know what it’s like.
Healthy connections starts with us. This is not weakness, it’s wisdom. We were never meant to be alone and we don’t thrive there.
Unfortunately, in a highly individualistic world, there are few good role models that don’t have baggage attached. I’m currently part of two communities who are daring to explore this territory in a different way. the Right Company – a global business community founded by Bernadette Jiwa and Mark Dyke – and the Linden church family here in Swansea.
This is where real trust is birthed.
There is also something about healthy change that requires a counterbalancing constant. If everything is moving then the whole thing becomes unstable. So the vulnerability and risk of new beginnings and stepping forward also has to be grounded in some way.
I had an unexpected visceral experience of this during the week. Each morning I walk up the valley, often stopping by the copse to read a Psalm. On Thursday, as usual, I lent against a huge conifer on the edge of the clearing but it just felt wrong. I was out of balance and couldn’t stand properly… Until I realised I was leaning against the wrong tree.
‘My’ tree has a place where I put my feet against the roots as I lean back. Just the right space. It’s comfortable and holds me while I meditate. The other tree, beautiful as it was, couldn’t give me that place of familiar repose. Even though it was only a few feet away.
For each of us that constant or grounding will be different and the amount we need will be variable. That’s not a judgement, it’s simply reality. But we do need to pay attention to what gives us that place of rest, or else we will become stuck. Unable to move into the flow we are called to.
This is beautifully expressed in a poem written by our quiet disruptor friend Tracy Ingham, from Linden.
When the well of tears
overflowing from the depth of pain
has risen to the surface
carrying with it previously unspoken burdens
You will find that truth floats.
When you immerse yourself
in healing pools of clarity
letting go of the many layers that mask
that which was hidden will be seen
And you will find that truth floats.
If you risk stepping into this river
Allow yourself to be carried in the flow where ever it goes
fast and smooth
or tossed in the rapids
trusting in the unseen buoyant force
You will find that truth still floats.
Thanks for reading
Short posts during the week