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Old Stories New Beginnings

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

I used to wear a sandwich board hanging heavy on my neck defining who I was by the sad story I told. That’s a metaphor of course, and a well-suited one.

As I untangle the twisted knots of my life tales, I continue to learn I am not my story. As I practice silence in meditation, I am able to witness all stories I have lived through. I am an observer. I am a gatherer of lessons. I glean the gems of my learnings, tuck them away in my heart and move on.

This is new for me. Silence has afforded me space to step back and observe. I know it comes from living with anguish day in and day out. I know deep depression. I know hopelessness. I know despair. Probably age has something to do with it. I listened to survivors’ stories moving beyond their pain.

Pema Chodron says, “Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

Eckhart Tolle writes, “To suddenly see that you are or have been attached to your pain can be quite a shocking realization. The moment you realize this, you have broken the attachment.”

Every day is a new beginning. I am not my story. Sometimes grief consumes me and my day is encumbered with sadness. I remember my tools to help me move through my grief. Some days I am angry. I remember my tools to help me use my anger as a fuel to ignite a positive action. I practice acceptance of where I am and sometimes acceptance is a struggle. Honor and respect for where I am eases up on my demands of myself. My meditation continues to build the I Am observer. Whenever I am lost I return to gratitude which always brings me peacefully to myself.

For a new beginning

In out of the way places of the heart Where your thoughts never think to wander This beginning has been quietly forming Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire Feeling the emptiness grow inside you Noticing how you willed yourself on Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety And the grey promises that sameness whispered Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled, And out you stepped onto new ground, Your eyes young again with energy and dream A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not clear You can trust the promise of this opening; Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning That is one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk Soon you will be home in a new rhythm For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • It struck me at the beginning of John O’Donohue’s piece how we are trying to emerge, and as we enter this new time, this is a time in which we can allow the grace to help us with a new beginning. That struck me right in the heart. I’ve been in business for my myself for many, many years and I work with large groups. And because of Covid in my state, that’s not possible. It’s a time of redesign, new beginning, and stepping out, knowing that grace will help because all of us are in a reemergence because of the pandemic. I had a spiritual vision many months ago that the collective whole was going to have a near-death experience. And even though our personal lives may not have been threatened, all of us have had to take a very close look and have a near-death experience in protecting our lives the way we have. So, now the opportunity is all of us can have a new beginning experience because things have changed, and it won’t be the same. Your reading reminded me to be still with that and allow grace to support the new beginning.

  • Thank you for that. It often takes a catastrophe for someone to wake up, some sort of cataclysmic happening of health or loss. And it is happening on a collective basis. It is an amazing process, and it demonstrates the wisdom of the universe.

  • Along that same line, it seems to me that, when you do have this collective shock to the system, we hopefully come into alignment. So rather than working at cross purposes, when you are in alignment, then you reinforce each other and have that much more collective strength than you would as an individual. It is scary as all get out right now. I have to be in the public everyday and it scares me. But on the other hand, I’m really excited about the potential for change.

  • I had a good writing day yesterday, but I had a problem in the story that I couldn’t solve, couldn’t figure out how something would work out. This morning, in the meditation, I’m clearing my mind and ask “what is the answer?” And it came to me. It’s amazing how that works. The silence just clears my mind, and now I see how to move the story forward. I’m grateful for this space.

  • It’s an interesting meditation for me. I think about how in your writing, sometimes you make a list of the struggles you’ve had in your life. This was important for me because I know that I have talked about being attached to them. I know that, in terms of the struggle and the painful events that have happened in my life, I became aware, not that that was so horrible, but it was the belief ruts you talked about yesterday. The belief ruts that I constructed around them, around the event, and that’s what I became identified with. That became what I defended. It has taken the grace of this time to have the energy and time and space and will to stay out of those ruts enough that they have healed over and I’m not identified with them any longer. That is such a gift.

  • What came up for me was the focus on the signboard. How much control I have—there were animal cards; one had a rabbit who came out of the forest yelling, “Don’t eat me! Don’t eat me!” And then the hawk would see the rabbit because he was screaming so loud. That reminded me, when you said the signboard, what do I project? What do I keep focusing on? What do I keep mulling over? What is that carpetbag that I just won’t close up and put away for a while? That’s where I am and it’s a great visual to work with today.

  • I was stuck on ‘every moment is a new beginning.’ It’s a simple concept, but not something we often think about. And we have a choice of what to think, how to feel, what to plan, what to think about. But every moment is a new beginning, and that is a powerful thought.

  • I’m been sitting here looking at a pattern of light and shadow as the sun came up on the rhododendrons next to me. And I think it is static and then one of the leaves responds to a breeze. I look at this, and realize it’s a pivot point of some kind. I’m glad I’m sitting outside.

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