He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.
― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
There are events accorded by the natural cycles of life that afford an opening to let go of earlier structures and allow something new and unknown to emerge. They are moments when the connective tissue that holds everything in place, all the pulls and obligations, hoped-for and avoided futures, ambitions and fears relative to a worldview, suddenly dissolve. In these moments, we are left floating in a kind of void, alone with ourselves. If we can bear it long enough, some new or newly remembered value and yearning may arise.
I’ve seen these moments in the stages of development of my children. They are made poignant because a child and parent take these steps in tandem. The first is birth, when our identities as individual men and women are subsumed into the broader context of “family” and we are instantly transformed into “father” and “mother” just as the child leaves the idyllic world of the womb behind and is born into the bright and brash realm of embodiment as a separate body in a wider world.
Many more large and small moments follow until a child reaches a responsible age, “attaining majority,” and the father and mother must to a practical degree leave behind the role of controlling, responsible agents and become “men” and “women” once again.
One could view the changes that are afoot now in humanity in a similar light. We are invited to loosen our bonds with goals and plans nested in the recently known forms and structures of life, and open to some new impulse. We are faced with the fact that the world context—livelihoods and economy, transportation and travel, comfort and connection—are changed inexorably. The moment we recognize and accept this is when a new possible future is conceived.
How apropos that we are in the season of late winter. It is now, in the cool incubating darkness, that new life germinates and begins to stir. Says Rudolph Steiner in his poetic litany:
Deep in the ground of the human soul
Of victory assured
The Spirit-Sun is living.
All through the winter of the inner life
The faithful heart divines it.
We are invited now to be patient in the stillness of unknowing. Resting here, we can make contact with what we care for more deeply, more authentically. Said Rumi 800+ years ago:
Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. In the depths there is a spring with all the water your heart is thirsty for.
Our task is first to relax, and then it is to relax again. We allow worries and concerns for the future to settle long enough to appreciate the perfect cool days of sunshine and the spacious richness of our inner life. We avail ourselves of this required retreat from contact and activity and sit in the dynamic stillness that is both an emptiness of not knowing and a fullness of presence. We invite conception and give space for something new to gestate and be born.
The obligatory work retreat is not unlike prison. We can bring our intention to it, in the way some prisoners sometimes do. A penitentiary is a place to become penitent, not in the sense of regret but reconciling with our disparate pulls and desires in such a way as to reclaim their energy for what lies ahead.
Practically, we take some time each day just to sit and be with ourselves. We follow our breath and open to what is arising within our being. We let the noise of concern settle and keep a careful eye out for some new impulse that is the silent voice of a deeper heart’s desire.
Always remember our inner work is not for ourselves. It is for the whole of life, and for the future. From our presence we send good will and good wishes to our family and community. Further, we send good will and good wishes to all of humanity, so that whatever sense of calm and wholeness we contact in ourselves can radiate into the whole world, of which each of us is a part.