If we surrender
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.
Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.
So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things
because they are in God’s heart
they have never left him.
This is what the things can teach us:
to fall patiently, to trust our heaviness
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.
Rilke, Book of Hours, II, 16
I trust the mystery. I trust what comes in silence and what comes in nature where there’s no diversion. I think the lack of stimulation allows us to hear and experience a deeper river that’s constant, still, vibrant, and real. And the process of deep listening with attention and intention catalyzes and mobilizes exactly what’s needed at that time.
Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge
and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you,
you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.
A. A. Milne
There seems to be an expectation today that we should always be in good mood, and unhappiness is taken as a sign that something is wrong. Therefore we are continually bombarded in advertising with images of smiling and cheerful people and families. When we find that the reality of our day-to-day encounters with life involves occasional challenges or simply ordinary routine, we can be tempted to think that something is wrong. The prevailing model has no place for the dips in mood or even depressions that are a normal part of life and which can be seen in the cycles of nature. We have to learn not to fear those moments when we do not feel completely in control or lose our sense of direction for a while. Often our psyches are wise and know when they need to rest. As Jung states here, the lack of energy is marking a period of transition as the energies needed for growth are stored for the future and this is felt as a lack of energy in the present. This can happen over a weekend or over months or even years. What I have learned in listening to people on their journey is to hold a space and trust, even though the meaning of what they are going through is not clear just yet.
There are moments in human life when a new page is turned. New interests and tendencies appear which have hitherto received no attention, or there is a sudden change of personality. During the incubation period of such a change we can often observe a loss of conscious energy: the new development has drawn off the energy it needs from consciousness. This lowering of energy can be seen most clearly before the onset of certain psychoses and also in the empty stillness which precedes creative work.
Jung, The Psychology of the Transference, CW 16.
In the Christian calendar, this day is the last one of the liturgical year. With sunset this evening, Advent begins, and the start of a new year.
With every breath, the old moment is lost, a new moment arrives. This is something meditators know. We breathe in and we breathe out. In so doing we abide in the ever-changing moment. We learn to welcome and accept this entire process: we exhale, and we let go of the old moment. It is lost to us. In so doing, we let go of the person we used to be. We inhale and we breathe in the moment that is becoming: we repeat the process. This is meditation. This is renewal. It is also life
Lama Surya Das, Practicing with Loss
Being lost is not at all a bad thing – if you know you’re lost and you know how to benefit from it spiritually. Most of us consider being lost a bummer, highly undesirable or even terrifying. We all have important things to do, there’s not enough time in the day as it is, thank you, and getting lost is a major fly in the ointment of success, a monkey wrench in the gearbox of progress. In the Western world, where “progress is our most important product,” we are encouraged from our earliest years to know exactly where we are at all times and precisely where we are going. Yes, such knowledge is often desirable if not necessary, but not knowing is of equal benefit. Indeed, the deepest form of wandering requires that we be lost.
Imagine yourself lost in your career or marriage, or in the middle of your life. You have goals, a place you want to be, but you don’t know how to reach that place. Maybe you don’t know exactly what you want, you just have a vague desire for a better place. Although it may not seem like it, you are on the threshold of a great opportunity. Begin to trust that place of not knowing. Surrender to it. You’re lost. There will be grief. A cherished outcome appears to be unobtainable or undefinable. In order to make the shift from being lost to being present, admit to yourself that your goal may never be reached. Though perhaps difficult, doing so will create entirely new possibilities for fulfillment.
Bill Plotkin, Being Lost