I loved taking this picture at the top end of our valley, where the Victorian reservoir once started. It was the day after a big client event in London and I just needed to be quiet.
To see the water meandering around the wall, hear the birdsong and feel the sun restored my soul…Even whilst keeping an eye on the dogs and their proclivity for naughtiness.
The image is lovely and I have returned to it often, in thought and on screen. And in staying with it I’ve been rewarded.
Courage to go deeper
There are so many layers here.
The sunlight, just at the right angle, highlights the stones on the stream bed. Illuminating what is beneath, I don’t even see the water’s surface.
As I looked I was reminded of my reflections after posting my last blog Ready to move forward?. I realised that in talking about the fear of failure, I hadn’t named the emotion – shame.
Owning this meant being prepared to explore it further, letting its contours speak.
Then an amazing thing happened. In talking with Steve I realised that this wasn’t fear of failure. For me, that’s not the trigger. I naturally search for the good things to come out of the dark places – failure is not an option. No, my fear is of not succeeding!
A subtle shift, with profound implications.
In my world, in my mind, I had to be really good to be worthy. Whatever life flung at me I had to deal with it really well. Even at a young age – and more recently – when I was bullied, I had to show that I could rise above it.
Yes, I am resilient. But I’m actually more ‘me’ when I don’t shut down my emotions, when I join the human race…
This isn’t an either/or, it’s a both/and. For most of the time, we only see the surface of the water, but that doesn’t stop the pebbles being there.
See the sky
It was going back to the picture a second time that I really saw the sky, reflected in the water. Why didn’t I see it before?
Sometimes, and for all sorts of reasons, we can’t see the sky. That doesn’t stop it being there, in its glorious, free expanse. But from where we stand, at this moment, we just can’t see it.
So noticing the reflection lifts our spirits and reminds us of a reality beyond where we are today.
I realised that there are a variety of ways I ‘see the sky reflected’ when it feels like a dense cloud above. Beauty, kindness, being with people who bring out the best in me. Poetry and words that transcend my current reality (more of that later…).
Quietening my soul. Allowing my spirit to settle in a good place.
Small steps in the right direction
Returning to the image again, I noticed the green ripples of water. The flow of the brook navigating around the old concrete wall, reflecting the trees above.
I have been so blessed recently by some lovely reminders that it’s all about taking small, consistent, steps in the right direction. Rather than waiting to make giant leaps…
There’s real celebration in walking forward, not just praising those out front at the finishing line. John Mashni’s recent post says it so well Most people cheer for those on the podium, praise this instead. As a podium girl, I choose to change my focus. Thank you, John.
And Steve Marshall’s wonderful photo-journal The art of reconnection invites me to own the health of my steps. Thanks, Steve.
What about you?
Where do you need to look? What do you need to do?
Finally, I want to leave you with a short poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, so beautifully illuminated by Parker Palmer in Tracing the constellation of your inner life
Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner — what is it?
if not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.
Painting with words and light. With amazing grace.