I love the image from Martha Postlethwaite’s poem of clearing a space. It’s a beautiful reminder to tend to my inner landscape, before I turn to outward work, no matter how urgent or grandiose the calling feels. The recommended order is: go inside, open your hands and wait for your song to drop into them.
Which implies two important points. One, that we each do have a song. And, two: that all we have to do to receive it is make a small clearing in our dense, wild places and wait patiently. Just ask and it will come. That it will fall into my open cupped hands is a nice image. It implies a readiness just this side of expectation, a proper, welcoming stance. Receptivity sourced from trust.
I always find other people’s retroactive stories of hardship, then success, so appealing. They tell of years of learning to listen to and trust the still, small voice. To recognize it as the way that Spirit speaks through us, to find its material form in the world, enlisting us to do our part. That inner voice is how our soul reminds us of promises made before coming here.
Still, that the inner voice is not always all sunshine and rainbows. It gives voice to inner longings, dreads, fears, and grief as well. I tend to resist dwelling on those, almost out of superstition about that universal law that what we focus on, we get more of. And yet looking at it and naming it, even in the private pages of my journal, opens up a space of possibility. Airing my loneliness and resentment relieves constriction and tightness and makes room for insight, honesty, and connection.
in the dense forest
of your life.
The key seems to lie in not expecting anything and not doing anything. This runs counter to most of what I’ve been taught about how to live my life. According to our culture, when there’s a problem you name it, you fix on a goal for how it should be better, you draw up a list of pros and cons and strategies, and you implement those strategies to reach the goal. Bam. Problem solved, intractable situation fixed.
And yet. The poet advises us to “wait there patiently,” which is not easy to do in our go-go culture. My habitual reaction can be: What? I’ve just identified this intolerable situation and now I’m supposed to sit and do nothing? That’s crazy. I find myself resisting the advice to trust.
The other day, I wrote in my journal about a longstanding and painful difficulty in a relationship. As it yielded some insights, the writing was enough and I resolved not to do anything particular about it. Just like that, within a few hours, I had the unexpected chance to be with that person in a light, open and intimate way. I am always amazed at how quickly something can turn and show a sunnier side. Grace appears, seemingly out of nowhere, and starts a new page. The song that is mine alone to sing just falls into my open cupped hands like magic.