Sometimes we just have to keep going. When stuff happens or we don’t know which way to go, our reaction can be to just sit down. To slump to the floor and bury our heads in our hands. But there are times when we just can’t do that. When we have to keep on walking.
However, I’ve been learning that there’s walking… and there’s walking…
It’s not what’s happening on the outside that counts. But what’s going on in our hearts that really matters. Even more than if we’re sitting or moving.
Last week I came across Anne Lamott and quoted her insights on hope:
Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope
that if you just show up and try and do the right thing,
the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work:
you don’t give up. Anne Lamott, from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions in Writing & Life
I also watched her inspiring TED talk: 12 truths I learned from life and writing. One of the truths was about death and included a quote from Ram Dass: “When all is said and done we are really just walking each other home”. Given that we were in my Mum’s last days this was hugely poignant. It provided a wonderful, fresh perspective on what was happening.
We couldn’t stop the walking, but we could see it in a new light. This added gentleness to transcendence and gave us a more meaningful job description for these few days. She reached home early on Sunday morning with a gentle transition to a new life.
And we are so thankful.
Walking with a good heart
I’ve also found myself in other situations where I don’t have the choice to stop the clock. I can’t re-write what has or hasn’t happened, even if I really don’t like the consequences. Especially if they are unfair.
But I still have a choice. What do I do with my heart?
By nature, I am an observer, someone who stands back relatively dispassionately and analyses what’s going on. This means I am used to assessing where things have gone wrong. But that can coat my heart with layers of hurt or shame and self-protection. Leaving no room for forgiveness and kindness.
I have the choice to keep my heart gentle as I walk.
It’s not easy. And sometimes if I can’t sit or pause, I simply ‘armour up’. It’s my default, my sense of self-preservation. But actually it becomes counter-productive.
Armour is heavy and separates me, both from other people and from my own path. Especially if it’s through a stream…
Letting spring come
Here in the valley the air is still damp and raw. Whilst snow flurries are beautiful, and frozen earth crunches nicely under my feet, I don’t yet see the hopeful emergence of spring.
But underground in seeds germinating in pods, and in tightly formed buds, spring is starting to break out. Slowly and gently the expansion of new life is happening. The frogs and toads have already begun their ever-hopeful laying of eggs in puddles. Hazel buds dangle bravely in the breeze from bare branches. And the birds are turning up the volume, whether in the trees or across the water.
It is gathering pace.
Will I let spring come in my heart and break through the layers I’ve laid down? Reactions that stop me getting hurt, again, but actually just keep me sealed up.
No one can choose but me. And I want to choose to let kindness in…