The song of the tui had changed. As I walked up the steps to my bach, I took time to pause and listen. No chortles, gurgles or rasps. The tui were singing a clear song, just two notes, one long and one short, with a rising inflection.
This was new. I’d never noticed this song change before.
What was making them so happy? I wondered. Was it that they were replete after the berry season, and so much feasting?
Late autumn and the transition into winter is bringing me contentment too. I keep thinking, ‘I am in Haratua’.
What do I mean by that? I’m thinking of the Maori lunar month of Haratua, which approximates to May. Haratua marks the time when the hard work of harvest is over.
Haratua precedes the start of a new cycle, the new year of Matariki, and it marks a pause between the two. In fact, this twelfth lunar month was sometimes dropped altogether from the Maori calendar.
What does it take to pause?
How do you mark the time after your inner harvest, the completion of a project or a time of hard work? Do you take time to pause and reflect, or are you impatient to get on to the next thing?
It takes discipline and acceptance to pause.
Sometimes we can’t get it right.
After the hard labour of publishing my last book, I began the next one a little too soon. Usually I would wait for the underground spring to fill, and take a good pause between books. But external factors meant I needed to begin the new book at the start of the year.
Now, as the project is finding its own rhythm, it’s a relief and a pleasure to slow down and relax into the spaces between things; to stop on the steps and breathe in a mysterious fragrance that spreads through the air from an unseen tree. To gather nikau seeds on a bush walk. And to listen to the song of the tui.
The value of the space between.
The space between activities is an optimal time, and one that can easily be missed if you are always busy. As the Zen philosophers say, this emptiness is pregnant with possibility.
What new seeds might be planted now? What new directions might be calling, if you only know how to stop and listen beneath the layers of distraction and the tasks of everyday life?
I listened, and felt the call to pick up a pen and write reflectively in a small notebook. Then I heard another call, to begin drawing again. And so I returned to keeping a visual diary, choosing one memorable moment from each day and making an image for it.
I realised these manual practices, away from the computer, were calling me back into mindfulness.
I gave myself a pause from writing this newsletter. I took retreats in nature. I removed all pressure and waited until the spring began to bubble up from the silence once more.
Haratua and you
I have been in Haratua, the season of rest.
Even if you are in the northern hemisphere seasonal cycle, know that your Haratua, the space between, can be taken at any time after you have completed a period of fruitfulness. So these questions are for you too:
✪ Do you allow yourself to rest after harvest?
✪ Do you have a way of marking a pause before beginning something new?
✪ How do you take a small season of rest?
See if you can make a shift from Doing to Being, and see what happens.
Blessings to you in the spaces between,
Kua uru nga kai ki te rua, hua mutu nga mahi a te tangata
Crops are stored in pits; labours are over.
For more about Haratua, go to Chapter 4 of my book Dancing with the Seasons.
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