Cultivating Gratitude and Joy – Letting go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
“Wanting a soul life without the dark, ………is like expecting an egg without the brooding heat of the mother hen.”
© David Whyte from The Heart aroused
My family knows I am the easiest person in the world to scare. Just say ‘boo’ and I jump. Even if I know it’s coming, I still get a fright. Just the way my nervous system has been programmed over the years. Such fun for everyone to test on occasion, especially my children, almost like a party trick that they can roll out when they are bored, until they realise that I really do get a fright, and are moved at times by a sense of compassion for my disrupted nervous system. It is the unpredictable that has scared me, the jumping out from behind doors, the dark, the not knowing. Now, however, that seems to be slowly changing. Seems to be attaining a status of resolving residual nervous system operating system. To support my thought that this is just some residual habit of my nervous system I have been surprised lately to find that walking around my new city at night brings up none of these old fears. It seems the years of being fearful of walking through the dark and living in the valley of shadows may be over. It may be time to cultivate gratitude and joy. Time to let the light in.
Perhaps, before I continue, an apology. This post is late. More than two weeks late in fact. In starting with this project this year I had committed to posting on a Wholeheart topic every month around the 14th day of each month. Now it is the next month already. And other blog posts have also not been easily forthcoming. There has been difficulty in writing. An understatement. The committing to write from the heart has at times meant crossing into personal and intimate journeys that are not comfortable sharing spaces. Being vulnerable in full view is another step in the unfolding journey. But having committed to this writing, this project from a perspective of wholeheartedness and vulnerability, to be less than that is not really possible with these offerings to contemplate. Why then this is late. And short. And still not so very personal.
My journey this past year has been one of opening to my deeper truth, the longing for the light, the light that has been patiently waiting. To the being honest with those around me, to allow in the rawness and the meeting of the pain, and the eventual capacity to let go, to loosen the clinging and allow an interior orientation that is more flexible, relaxed and at ease with how things are. With acceptance comes the paradox of joy, of gratitude, of connection, of being encountered with at the very real raw level of our intimate humanity. That is the longing we all have.
For longing – John O Donohue
Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.
May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.
May the forms of your belonging–in love, creativity, and friendship–
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
May the one you long for long for you.
May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which
your body inhabits the world.
May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.
May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.
So as I write this month, so long overdue, while I fly over that majestic continent of Africa to bring this journey full circle, cultivating gratitude and joy even as I share some of this journey with you, I am very intimately aware of how much I have to be grateful for and how much joy there is in my life. And that it comes not from blithely or blindly stepping into an unknowable desire but into the unknown longing that draws all of us closer to the source of our own hearts and healing and strength. A turning toward the difficult, a looking deeply into the abyss, and knowing that I have finally found my way out, that no other is responsible for this journey, even as I am still deeply responsible and tied to the lives of those around me.
Though this may be sparse with the story and the detail, with that rational cognitive part with which you can make sense of these reflections, none of that is of any import. What is relevant is that in the turning toward a greatest fear, a fear of the dark, of being alone and abandoned, and in trusting this journey of longing for a deeper knowing and truth, a journey not always understood but one that has drawn me ever onward, I have found than listening to that soft voice that is my own, in amongst the many clamoring for airtime, is the only way to set the compass of my own heading, of my heart, of this journey I call my life.
What is it that you listen for? That you trust even as you don’t fully understand? And in so doing cultivate a grateful and joyful heart that can lead you out of the darkness.
May you all be well, this day, a day to fill with gratitude and joy for all that is and may you come to understand and accept your longings as divine urgency.