In late summer a seven-letter word hovers on the lips of farmers, growers and media commentators. That word is ‘drought’. Despite February showers in parts of the country, this year the South Island farmers have been hit hard, with the pre-Christmas promise of good lamb yields being dashed by one dry week after another. For a farmer, there is agony and despair as the land parches and cracks open.
Have you ever entered an inner season when you end up exhausted and despairing like those farmers? Have you ever experienced an inner season of drought, when hope seems as impossible to find as rain clouds on the horizon?
You may think a shower is about to fall, but promise whisks away into the distance, and you are left feeling more desolate than before. Many in Christchurch, four years and 15,000 tremors on from the big earthquakes, report feeling like this.
You do your best
You may have tried toughing it out, like an impassive, stoic farmer; or distracting yourself, like the one who drives off to the pub each night. Maybe you end up shrinking, as if shriveling into smallness will lessen the ordeal. Or trying to fix the situation, or using medication to mask the dryness within.
But none of these work, because none of them connects you with the one thing you most need.
You need healing, uplifting and connection with the infinite source, the fountain in the desert, the water that shoots out of a rock. You need a restoration of faith.
The way of the heart
The heart has its own laws, its own needs, and its own timing.
Margrit, whom I interviewed for Growing into Wisdom, told me that multiple loss had taught her a new strategy: she found great solace in solitude. She learned to rest in inner silence. She developed the ability to wait.
From the outside she may have appeared inert, but like a still pool she was full of microscopic life and movement. In time the guidance she needed swam up from her own depths like a golden fish.
Gallivanta, four years on from the Christchurch earthquakes, says she still startles easily at sudden movement, and can panic. On the recent anniversary of the Feb 22 quake, she cooked apples, brought by a friend from a damaged property, and baked bread to share. Consciously she made a decision to ‘feast on life, not fear’.
The decision to choose life needs to be made again and again. And the decision to reach for moisture when you are in a dry season.
What are your favourite ways?
Some heart practices
Here are some softening and reviving practices for the heart:
- Singing and sacred chanting
- Smiling and playing with a baby or little child
- Giving to others and affirming that you are part of a tribe
- Holding a tree or walking in nature
- Reaching for spiritual teachings or practices
When you are in the desolation of drought, watching the sky every day won’t bring relief. You can’t force the rain to fall.
But you can turn within, to the source, and reach towards the fountain of infinite supply. Your heart knows where that is, if you are willing to be still and listen. Then your inner season can shift, gradually, according to the heart’s timing.
What are your favourite ways of caring for the heart?
Your comments are welcome.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
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