Normally I like January. It’s my birthday month. The busy-ness of the holidays is over and we’re at the start of a new year. The air is crisp and clean and the world is settling down for a bit of quiet before bursting forth into Spring.
But I am so incredibly thankful this January is over. And rather than get into all the heavy reasons why, I’m going to celebrate what’s coming next.
I’ve been asked to speak at my local UU Fellowship this Sunday on the topic of “answering a Call”. Here is the description of the service:
Opening Up in Sweet Surrender to the Luminous Love Light Deep Within – Imbolc, Candlemas, Ground Hog Day and St. Brigid’s Day are just some of the festivals to celebrate the first faint stirrings of Spring held in many lands and cultures. Throughout the stillness of Winter, the Earth replenishes the nutrients of plants. Animals bide their time, often with new life waiting to be born. So, too, do humans, in the depths of winter, turn inward, often receiving new insights and directions to their lives. These faint stirrings within our psyche may cause us to blossom forth in new and unexpected ways – ways that open us up to more fully embrace life. Sometimes we may feel that we are called to support a cause, try something new, or make a significant change in our lives. Sometimes we may hear the Call, yet ignore the summons. In this service we will explore, through personal stories, song and poetry what happens to those among us who have said “YES” to an inner call or yearning.
I was given these prods from the facilitator to shape my comments around:
1. What led up to the place where you were saying to yourself – ‘I should do this?’
2. Describe that urge or calling and what it felt like.
3. Share some of your self-talk when you were pondering whether or not to accept this undertaking.
4. Describe your memory of saying ‘yes’.
5. What difference has this decision [or gradual involvement] made in your life?
I am, of course, speaking about my decision to start grad school and enter seminary, but I haven’t quite figured out how and what to say. I spent last week in Berkeley, meeting my classmates and professors, registering for classes and doing all that orientating stuff new students have to do. I felt like a 6 year old on my first day of school – unable to sleep, up way too early, walking to school with my new bag over my shoulder and both nervous and excited to make new friends. It was a wonderful few days in the city, and the perfect way for me to put an end to the drama and heartache and stress of the past few months and refresh myself for the adventures to come.
I haven’t decided yet how to describe the feeling of knowing, just knowing I am on the right path, in the right place, doing the right thing. That feeling of absolute certainty that I am where I’m supposed to be, working towards the fullness of my true potential. And I haven’t yet figured out how to put into words the confidence and joy that comes with having made the decision to answer that Call – and how it changes everything. Having said YES changes how I view myself and how I interact with the world – and therefore how the world sees and interacts with me. It is life changing and yet a thundering affirmation of all that has brought me to this point, of who I have been becoming, of who I AM.
There is nothing like it, this experience of both mind-expanding newness and soul-warming familiarity.
How can I explain the struggle, faint at first but growing stronger every day; the terror of that moment when you realize exactly what it is you are being called to and how your life will change if you say yes; the frustration, anxiety and impatience of trying to figure out how to say yes, how it’s all going to work, how to do it without hurting too many people you love; the pure joy and relief when you finally just surrender, when you realize there’s just no way you can’t say yes; and the breathless wonder as you take those first few steps and everything falls into place?
Not really sure how to describe all of that, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out. Until then, I leave you with this perfect poem by John O’Donohue from To Bless the Space Between Us.
For a New Beginning
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.