Big Pause, Big Questions

“All is well. While you take this big pause,
we have a lot of housecleaning to do.”

Wind Whispering

It’s early Saturday morning, the pause between Good Friday and Easter in the Christian tradition. I woke at 3:00, not an unusual experience. With a stomach ache. Too, not unusual these days. It’s been a good month or so since I’ve been in “compassionate retreat.” As I’ve written – day in, day out – not an unusual experience except… And those exceptions are what can throw me into the surreal reality of life now as I, we know it. Or don’t. And there’s the rub.

In these many days – which day is it? – from my read, media sources are full of conjecture and narrative trying to explain life now. How we got here. Where we’re going. Who’s to blame. How to fix. And much, much more. My meaning-making, pattern-seeking mind can be temporarily soothed or agitated as I scan, read, note, share, comment, talk it out, depending. But bottom line is there is so much I don’t know, and know it’s too soon to know, that my habit of needing to know is a fix.

Molokai, Perspectives with Panache, 2007

A few weeks ago, I took a chance to comment in the blog of a woman whose way of writing, and orientation to life, to faith, I really like, I feel kindred with. Took a chance because I was about to offer a very different perspective from the other comments on her post which had laid out, in a helpful way, the metamorphosis change frame revived and embellished by life coach Martha Beck. Here’s a slightly edited version of what I pondered on her page:

I’m going out on a limb to offer another perspective borne from l/earned life experience.

Several years ago, after a particularly raw, vulnerable time of loss and interior dishevelment, I attended my monthly community of practice gathering (we are life and leadership coaches, process designers, facilitators, educators – a kind and highly “emotionally – relationally intelligent” types) wherein the host offered a process based on these stages of metamorphosis. While I knew the cognitive calm and soothing this stage model offered, I also knew at a deeper level, that its comfort was based on Mind’s role of searching for patterns to make meaning and sense of, what was for me at that time, incomprehensible.

I knew at a deeper level, to follow this model, would be an abandonment, sabotaging even, of my own inner process. That giving in to the “oh, I know, what comes next is the butterfly” would prevent something totally new from coalescing and emerging, as I exchanged comfort for uncertainty, premature pattern for chaos.

I knew I was in the patternless void, the soul’s dark night, the mystic’s desert.

Could I trust that the patterns of stars in that black void of sky might emerge, though NOT be the constellations that I knew before?

That is the question for me now.

Pattern will emerge from this chaos, but most likely, unlike what I/we have ever seen, or ever known before. It might not be – most likely will not be – a butterfly that emerges from the messy imaginal cells. That is what I needed to let go of then, and need to now. This is where faith, trust, love come into play.

What new forms of being and living and loving can we breathe into those formless imaginal cells if we allow them their time?

What new stories are wanting to be written if we are patient for the words to emerge? If we trust we are each writing the new story with every choice we make (even the “no choice” choices), every day we live our lives as prayer?

What holy grief, holy gratitude, holy love, can we evolve together?

So here I sit, best I can. Big pause. Big questions.
Big breath in. Big breath out.

“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir,
to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart
and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms
and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.
Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it,
live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, 1986

Author: Katharine Weinmann

attending to the inner life to live and lead with kindness, clarity and wisdom; writing to find the beauty in her wabi sabi life

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