When I walk a labyrinth, I like to take my time in the center, to pause and rest, to give space in the holy hush between in-breath and out-breath for something new to enter. In this December labyrinth, we’ve walked through increasingly dark passages, exploring the shadows, examining our own little lights, reflecting on the interplay between darkness and light.
Today the planet begins her inward spin again, back toward equilibrium, away from the outer point of our elliptical whirl. And there’s a feeling–much more poetic than scientific–of pause here at the edges. Just the slightest sensation of being between.
Breathing, like labyrinth-walking, is a steady in and out process. And like the labyrinth, it isn’t necessarily a simple in-and-turn-and-out journey. Between each breath is a little doorway into a room between breaths, a space where something new may enter.
And so, in this moment on the planetary spin, this space between breaths, this pause, this doorway, this room, we sit and we wait for what is to come. Here we sit within Time out of Time. The wait for Sunreturn is over, but Advent continues.
In the Christian tradition, we are waiting for the Child of Light to appear, for the angels to shine forth and announce a Birth. We ask ourselves what this welcome means. Is it a mystical moment, only an inner dawning? Is it a psycho-socio-political moment when we consider what it means to welcome the ones who are caught on the margins without hope of help? Is it simply the re-telling of an ancient tale? What are we waiting for?
Here in this dark, quiet room in the space between breaths, we have time to consider what it is we are waiting for. It’s not about the urgency of a child’s breathless anticipation of presents and play. We prepare these inner rooms, watch our dreams and visions, notice the way the breath moves in and out, and pauses. We wait.
Gratitude List: 1. Oyster Stew at the Town Hall Restaurant, where my father used to take my grandmother. I felt like Grandma was there, too. Even Santa stopped by, and gave us all candy canes. 2. Watching my brother teach my son to play guitar. Watching my nephew painting with my son. Playing games together, eating together. I am so grateful to be raising my children in these circles of village. 3. The twinkle and sparkle of lights. 4. The space between breaths. 5. Walking and waiting with you.
“Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you are about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret. ”
“The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring: these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings. If we refuse to hold them in the hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love.” ―Parker J. Palmer
“In love, nothing exists between heart and heart.
Speech is born out of longing,
True description from the real taste.
The one who tastes, knows;
the one who explains, lies.
How can you describe the true form of Something
In whose presence you are blotted out?
And in whose being you still exist?
And who lives as a sign for your journey?”
―Rabia al-Adawiyya, Sufi poet, 717-801
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Gratitude List: 1. Today I am grateful that I no longer experience weeks of 4-hour sleep. When I experience insomnia these days, it’s a couple hours for a couple nights in a row. It has become a teacher instead of a raging enemy.
2. The UNICEF kids. They put on a great party today, set up without prompting and supervision, ran the show, and cleaned up so quickly, I hardly knew what hit me. They’re going to change the world.
3. This ratty old black long-sleeved T-shirt. I’ve bought shirts to replace it, and they’re okay in their way, but none are so soft, so mine. I will wear it until it’s rags.
4. The Ducktown Road bridge is functional! I drove the whole way up Ducktown on my way home tonight.
5. How things come together, and fall apart, only to come together again, in a new way.
“Is the wind at your back?” asked my friend Saheeb when I saw him today. “Are you dancing?”
What a marvelous greeting! How is the universe conspiring to show you your truest self? Is the sun shining on your face? Have you answered the invitation to heal the world? What does the rhythm of the cosmos tell you? Is the wind at your back? Are you finding the keys to your desires? Are you dancing?
Gratitude List: 1. Helpful questions from a compassionate heart 2. Reminders that sometimes it’s okay to stall, to rest, to wait, to pause: this is different from paralysis or stagnation, though it’s hard for me sometimes to tell the difference. 3. Playing with the stones at the shop. I named one large piece of iron ore The Stone of the Waking Dragon 4. Staying attuned and awake. This is a blessing and also painful, but still I am grateful to be awake and awakening, to be part of it all. 5. Two five-egg days in a row!