Stepping Into the Light

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” -John Muir

Today is the summer solstice and one of the most magical days of the year. I see it as a day when Mother Nature pulls out all the stops. She gives us every ounce of daylight she can. She is fully alive, thriving, and welcoming summer in whole-heartedly. Everything is lit up this time of year.

With a full moon only two days away, it’s as if even the nighttime wants to join in the festivities, offering all the light it has to offer. It does not doubt itself, saying, “What light have I to offer? I am the night and full of darkness.” Instead, it offers whatever light it has – the moon, the stars – fully, whole-heartedly and unapologetically.

This is my question, my intention, my reminder:

Can I follow nature’s example and light myself up fully, give of myself whole-heartedly, pull out all the stops on my love? Can I not doubt what I have to give or compare it to what others have to give? Can I give what I have unapologetically as my fullest offering, my fullest truth, my most authentic self?

In this spirit I offer to you a beautiful experience I had while attending Garden Day at Shakti Rising.

*****

I was raking up leaves and dead flowers from a corner of the garden that had a very Secret Garden feel to it. The dead leaves, branches, and flowers had piled up quite high, forming a blanket so thick I couldn’t see the ground. It seemed obvious what needed to be done: Clear out the old so the soil had room to breathe.

As I cleared out the top layer, I started to notice that my rake would intermittently catch on something. That “something” would turn out to be the long leaves of a green plant that had been buried underneath the blanket of dead leaves. I got a smaller rake and carefully raked around the plant, clearing the dead leaves while preserving the living plant.

I encountered more and more of these live green shoots the closer to the soil I got. Each time I stopped and did my best to work around the live areas. I’ll admit it got a little tiring and I thought how easy it would be to just clear the entire portion. But the easy way would have trampled thriving plants that were just waiting to be discovered.

The life parallel and metaphor became obvious to me the more I worked. How often, when we return to the secret gardens inside ourselves after years or sometimes lifetimes, finally ready to dig deep and clear out what is no longer needed, do we go in charging, ready to clear out instead of clean out. Clearing is so much easier and definitely less painful.

When we take our time, however, and courageously spend time in our deep interiors, as we do the work of removing old, dead layers of ourselves, we often find forgotten treasures:

Pieces of our heart we thought were dead but, upon closer examination, we find there is still a heartbeat there.
Discarded dreams we gave up on, but they are still rooted, just waiting to be watered.

I recently stumbled upon some forgotten treasures of my own. Isn’t it at once a terrifying and liberating experience?

dive deeper
into the waters you thought you knew

reexplore your shipwrecks
with your new eyes

there,
there in your shipwrecks
lies your treasure

you left it there
in your hurry to get out
with your life,
the shirt on your back,
and the air in your lungs

you forgot about it
until now

when you sail over those same waters you nearly drowned in
look into the calm waters and see a sparkle
deep down below

where you almost drowned you now dive
to see the collapse in its full glory
to see how time has softened the edges of your tragedy

to feel, for the first time perhaps,
what it’s like to be submerged,
without drowning

collect your treasure
bless the skeletons
float to the surface

inhale
exhale
weep
release
forgive

May we return to our gardens while we still have the energy and the time to walk in them, to sit in them, and to dream in them.

May we follow nature’s example and light ourselves up fully, give of ourselves whole-heartedly, pull out all the stops on our love, and unapologetically give our brightest internal light as our fullest offering to whoever we may meet.

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