Musings from the Well...
Copyright © 2019 Catharine Mitchell. All rights reserved.
September has arrived again, right on schedule. Here in Ontario, the kids have gone back to school after a year and a half of unpredictable and unnerving back and forth. I feel for them. I'm also aware of a relief that I am no longer an elementary teacher, much as I loved my decades as an educator. I think we get to a stage in our lives where we no longer have the energy (or maybe the flexibility) to navigate change on such a large scale. For all educators out there, you are in my heart. You play a vital part in the routines which hold our society together. May you have the strength, the integrity, and the agility to safely steer your way through the constant change life has thrust upon you.
I have not written a blog post for a while - over a year - yikes! This does not, however, mean that I have been spiritually disengaged. I've been trying to find ways to walk my beliefs out into the world. (That sounds a lot more noble than I actually meant it - believe me, I am painfully aware that I am no paragon, and my walk has been far from graceful.) I have a number of dear Mennonite friends, and I've always marveled at their willingness to carry their compassion where and when it is needed, without proselytizing and without expecting gratitude from those they help. I asked one of these friends "How do you do this? Why do you do this?" Her response gave me pause: "Our perspective is that the best way to bear witness to our beliefs is not to talk about them, but rather to live them out into the world." I was struck by the truth of this statement. There was a calm enduring to it, a sense of rootedness, humility, and commitment to service. I do not pretend to know everything about the broad and varied spectrum of the Mennonite belief system, as it is not mine. But I can be inspired by the integrity I discover in others.
Today, I voted at an advance poll for the Canadian election. As schools are not being used as polling stations this year (in a valid attempt to protect our precious children) other community venues are stepping up. For this election, our advance poll has been held at an area Islamic Centre. I was touched by how graciously our hosts welcomed us into their space. It was humbling to be greeted by hospitality when many times hostility has been flung at these members of our community. May we all be wise enough and strong enough to continue to offer kindness to one another.
September has enticed me back into a routine, a routine that continues to evolve as my life and the world around me changes. This is a common theme right now with many of the seekers I companion, and I feel this shift and uncertainty myself. I know from reflecting upon past transformative cycles that if I am rigid in my expectations and desires, the winds of change will break me. If I can practise flexibility, even when it's difficult, new opportunities always seem to arise. (Think of a willow tree, bending in the wind while remaining strongly rooted. When the wind leaves, the tree gracefully finds its new balance.) My goal is to hold lightly to my expectations - it's okay to have them, but I don't want them to become tyrants. Something is telling me that we have an opportunity to evolve here. I have a deep faith that we can weather this storm, scary though it may be.
The neighbourhood kids are returning from school and are playing beneath my window. September is here and they are joyfully experiencing life. We owe them a world worth living in.
Who Will We Be?
Who will we be when this is over?
People who experience a bit more gratitude (for a while)
for the return of things we missed?
Or a community which wanders, wide-eyed and childlike,
into a new way of walking this sacred Earth?
Some things, some people are gone, never to return.
Who will we become without them?
There will be grief for that which has been lost.
My prayer is that we lovingly bless that which is no more
then turn to face Now
with a willingness to open to
and tenderly touch
this new geography.
I have had a deep love for language - and all forms of writing - since I was a child. Writing, especially poetry, is an integral part of my own spiritual practice, and for me, the deepest form of prayer I know.