“Don’t worry about the darkness for that is when stars shine the brightest.” – Napoleon Hill
Last weekend we were up on Whidbey Island at a beautiful place on Mutiny Bay. At 3am I woke up as documented in my The Whispers of My Failures post and none of my usual tricks helped me go back to sleep.
So I walked to the window and the sky was so beautiful, clear and filled with stars. It was a breathtaking view of which I never see when I’m in the city (nor do I usually look). Instead of going back to bed, I threw on some warm clothes and got my kids out of bed.
I wrapped them in blankets and helped them slip outside to sit on the break wall and look at the stars. Miss O saw two shooting stars, the Big Dipper and Orion’s belt right away. I pointed out the Milky Way galaxy and the Seven Sisters (Pleiades) and then Mr D asked what the noise was. It was a cruise ship all lit up (see featured photo) and heading south to dock in port in Seattle at sunrise. Then as we turned to go back inside, a second cruise ship steamed by.
I told the story of what I’d done to my mom when she came over for dinner this week, and she said, “You are a good mom. I would have never done that.”
Then she added, “But it’s stuff like that they’ll remember.”
I’m not claiming any parental award for this star gazing outing though. All I did was let my God voice outweigh my practical voice. I listened to that inner whisper that asked, “When will this night come again?”
It took a little work but my kids went back to sleep. As I settled back into bed I felt the full circle realization of the majority of why I try (and sometimes fail) these days – for these beautiful little lives that I’m responsible for. And for them to know beauty – like of the night sky.
Somehow, waking them up at 3am was the perfect cure for aligning me with what I value most. No surprise because when I honor that small God voice inside it usually does reward me with that alignment to what matters most.
As I fell back asleep, I did so with a little piece of the world’s beauty in my heart and proof of my most enduring efforts sleeping next door.
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest Hemingway
I often think of myself as freestanding and in charge – only to repeatedly learn I’m not. I say that even as I know my best decisions, like the ones to have my beautiful children as a single person, came from a calling that was far beyond me. I read an amazing piece on that subject this week from Mark Nepo that I am posting here in case anyone else needs to hear the same thing.
Teachers Are Everywhere
Teachers arise from somewhere within me that is beyond me, the way the dark soil that is not the root holds the root and feeds the flower.
So often we think of ourselves as freestanding and in charge, because we have the simple blessing of being able to go where we want. But we are as rooted as shrubs and trees and flowers, in an unseeable soil that is everywhere. It’s just that our roots move.
Certainly, we make our own decisions, dozens every day, but we are nourished in those decisions by the very ground we walk, by the quiet teachers we encounter everywhere. Yes, in our pride and confusion, in our self-centeredness and fear, we often miss the teachers and feel burdened and alone.
In trying to hear those quiet teachers, I am reminded of the great poet Stanley Kunitz, who as a young man struggling darkly with how to proceed with his life, heard geese cross a night sky and somehow he knew what he had to do. Or how a man I know was slowly extinguishing himself, sorely depressed, when, finally exhausted of his endless considerations, he heard small birds in snow in unexpected song. He realized he was a musician who needed to find and learn the instrument he was supposed to play.
From the logic of being freestanding and in charge, experiences of this sort seem crazy-making and untrustworthy. But the soil of life in which we grow speaks a different language than we are taught in school. In actuality, truth and love and the spirit of eternity are rarely foreseeable, and clarity of being seldom comes through words.
In my brief time on Earth, I have felt the light of ageless spirit fill me unexpectedly when I thought I would die, and as water pumps its way up a slim root making that plant leaf out toward the light, I have found myself, against all fear and will, flushed with possibility in the direction of dreams I had hardly imagined.
Whether through birds in snow, or geese honking in the dark, the brilliant wet leaf that hits your face the moment you are questioning your worth, the quiet teachers are everywhere. When we think we are in charge, their lessons dissolve as accidents or coincidence. But when brave enough to listen, the glass that breaks across the room is offering us direction that can only be heard in the roots of how we feel and think.
The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
“I am too alone in the world and not alone enough to make every moment holy.” – Rainier Maria Rilke
Willie Nelson and his son Lukas Nelson were talking about the power of manifesting life on a podcast with Brené Brown that I recently listened to. They suggested that the secret is in dreaming what you want in your life and then letting it go for God to make possible. This secret speaks to the line between being and doing that always confounds me.
When I first wanted to have a baby at age 45, I talked with the general practitioner that I was seeing at the time. She told me to eat organic. I was pretty sure that I needed to do a little more than that to have kids – either that or the organic food industry has a whole other marketing niche they aren’t plugging. 😊 So I went to talk with a fertility specialist next who had some very concrete steps for me to do.
On the other hand, I’ve always joked I’ll get married again when a man falls out of the sky and lands on my head. So far just putting that one out there and letting it manifest hasn’t created any results but I’m not all compelled to take more action in this moment.
I suspect the line between being, just putting it out there and letting it happen in God’s flow, and doing, taking very specific action to make things happen, is so difficult because no one can pass on that wisdom for anyone else’s life. It’s just between us and God. And it’s further complicated, at least for me, because I very much believe that I’m responsible for my own happiness so I don’t leave much for God to do.
Listening to that podcast inspired me to wonder about this balance all over again. The Nelson’s with their deep faith also talked about working hard to practice, embodying the same push and pull of being vs. doing. It illuminated part of my struggle and the beginnings of a solution – I suspect that I’ll never have a line that I can chart with any mathematical precision. Instead I was directed back to my daily practice of listening to the Divine about what I need to do that day, doing my best at that and leaving the rest to God.
(featured image from Pexels)