The Return of Spring

Apple Blossom Time 

Apple Blossom Time 

Touch the earth, love the earth, honour the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills, and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places.
Henry Beston

Though it is still winter, signs of spring are starting to appear here in Middle Tennessee. I was walking at the lake the other day and saw daffodils already out. It's way too early, as we can have hard frosts into March. But so lovely to see the bright yellow against the sere brown landscape. I look at photos of apple blossoms taken last spring, and their beauty lifts my heart on gloomy winter days. 

I feel I have been in a long winter; a quiet but intense time of going within. I have missed blogging and connecting with you, dear reader. But a full time day job and continuing work on my new e-book, The Tranquil Heart: Inspired Choices for Challenging Times, have been the fierce focus through fall and winter months. More festive plans are afoot now as I prepare my finished book for publication and move on from my last assignment at a day job into a season of full time writing. I will be sharing more in the coming weeks about the rebirth of my writing career. 

Today I want to express my gratitude for all who have commented or sent me messages of encouragement or reviewed my books on the many websites where they are available. I read your comments and take them to heart, and they have an influence on what I write and how I present it. I have been in an intense place the last few months, so thank you for your patience with my slow response to your letters and emails. I honor every person who cares enough to communicate, and will try to be more available now that my life is moving from winter into spring. I think we all, as a collective, found 2012 to be a challenging year. So many friends have experienced big transitions and unexpected changes in these times, as I have. I know my own spiritual life has deepened in the process, and I am excited about the new things I have to share with you, beginning with my upcoming e-book, The Tranquil Heart. More announcements will be forthcoming. Until then, I want to encourage you to make choices that will help you cope when things get intense in your life.

If you’ve been closeted indoors too long, your thoughts get as stuffy as the closed rooms you’ve been living in. It’s time to get out and let the wind blow through your hair, the sun shine on your face, and the fresh air invigorate your attitude. 

Escape to the wild places to renew your spirit. Let the wind blow through your hair and whisper secrets of wild freedom to your heart. Enjoy being away from all man-made structures and in the midst of nature’s beauty. You’ll return to your daily life with a wider—and wilder—perspective. 

Mountains, deserts, seashores, green fields, gardens—find a little bit of earth and spend some time on it, staring at the clouds, digging in the dirt, smelling the flowers, and just being with green and growing things out under the wide bowl of arching sky. Rejoice in nature and let it remind you that life is larger and airier and freer than the enclosed world you’ve been immured in. 

Watch a squirrel scrambling through leaves, intent on her business. Listen to the returning birds sing their songs of joy. Enjoy the picture of a baby animal kicking up its heels in the spring sunshine. Look at the tight knobby buds just beginning to swell. Watch for the signs of returning spring, and make room for spring in your soul. 

Remember that life is rich and full and mysterious. Nature shares secrets of renewal with those who will take time to listen to her. Seek out the wild places—mountain, forest, untamed shore, winding riverfront, vast desert—the primal creation that shimmers with living glory and reminds you that this is a very large and beautiful world. And in your own backyard, the changing seasons remind you that even the coldest winter will finally give way to spring. 

Climb the mountains and get good tidings. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
John Muir

Spring flowers, autumn moon,
Summer breeze, winter snow—
When the mind is free from unnecessary thoughts,
Every season is just perfect!
Ekai

If spring came but once a century instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change. 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. Let them be your only diet drink and botanical medicines.
Henry David Thoreau

Earth laughs in flowers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Season of Waiting

I have been working like mad on my first e-book, Inner Abundance, and it’s in the final edit and formatting stage. It’s been a long and heavy pregnancy with this book baby. There has been lot of wrestling with fear and doubt, especially because of the new e-book format. It hasn’t felt as “real” as a physical book with an established publisher. It’s a brave new world and there are no guarantees that this will work, only good people who have created their own e-book successes to encourage me. Now it’s almost ready in the text-only version that will be available for all the e-book formats. A PDF-only full color photo version will come later. Stay tuned for the birth announcement. Inner Abundance will soon be a bouncing baby book!

I wrote this meditation a few years ago, but even with a milder than usual summer here in Nashville, an inner heat wave has enveloped me. I wrote more wisely than I realized when I wrote this meditation on waiting. 

Heat Wave

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
--Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)

The air is heavy with waiting. This is the hot breathless time of soaring summer temperatures, Bermuda highs, and killer humidity. It is a still time, when no breezes blow, no rain falls, and the sun beats down with its highest intensity. You can almost hear the plants growing, and you see daily development in the garden. But it is too uncomfortable to stay out very long. The minute you step outdoors, your clothing sticks to you, clinging to a body that is instantly covered with sweat. In this weather, only the bugs seem happy and comfortable. 

This is the time of waiting. You may be a gardener waiting for the plants to produce. Or you may be cultivating your own life, waiting for projects to come to fruition and dreams to come true. There comes a season in every life where the heat is on and all you can do is wait.

Sometimes it just takes waiting for the right timing. And during the season of high heat, timing is often not in your favor. You have to sweat it out. Do you have a project you’ve been working on that suddenly seems blocked or stopped? Are you waiting on someone else’s necessary decision, only to find out they’re on summer vacation and won’t be back until next week? Do processes feel like they’re being dragged out and results few and far between? Does your spiritual life feel meaningless, your prayer closet like a sauna, and a breath of fresh air seem as far away as a dream? Welcome to the dog days of the summer heat wave. 

St. John of the Cross talked about the dark night of the soul. Other spiritual masters talk about the silence of the senses. The humidity of a soul sweating out the work of time and the timing of the Creator is like a heat wave, deadening the senses into numb misery. It seems like an endless spiritual desert. Yet it is in the desert that saints and monks have purified their souls and found spiritual insight and clarity. If you are in a season of difficult waiting, perhaps God is developing the fruit of the Spirit in you. Just as a sweat breaks a fever and releases toxins, so this travail of the soul and body could be releasing impurities that keep you from spiritual health and well being. 

A time of waiting is part of life’s process and there is no way to avoid it, no shortcut around it. We have three possible responses: we can fight it, we can whine about it, or we can accept it as a necessary time for spiritual development. 

Sometimes in the early stages of a heat wave, we fight it. Angry that our vacation plans don’t include avoiding this discomfort and that circumstances demand our presence in this unpleasant weather, we are anxious, frustrated, and trying to figure a way out—any way out, at any price, as soon as possible. When we realize there is no way out and that we have to just slog through the heat, we grumble and complain. But whining can make the atmosphere even more unpleasant than the muggy humidity of waiting. We make the hard times harder with a negative attitude.

Then there is the way of acceptance. Sooner or later we come to the time when we must make this choice: will we accept the circumstance, adapt to the situation, and wait out God’s timing? If we choose the way of acceptance, there is no guarantee that the heat will lessen or that the weather will change any sooner. What we do discover, however, is that we can cope with this waiting in the heat, perhaps even learn from it. 

Here in the South, you learn to hibernate in the heat and choose your times of emergence into the outdoors wisely. You turn up the air conditioner during the day, wait till evening or early morning to do your hard work. You drink plenty of water, take it easy during the hottest part of the day, and wear comfortable clothes you can sweat into. You don’t just have to hibernate in the refrigerated indoors, however. You can also embrace the heat and immerse yourself in things as they are, rather than putting your energy into wishing for what isn’t. Spending time outdoors, embracing the heat, actually helps you cope, as your body adjusts to the temperatures and builds strength to endure.

In the southern summer I have learned take long early morning or twilight walks in clothes that I plan to sweat in, carrying bottled water to keep myself hydrated. I move more slowly and take time to look and listen to what nature is doing. There on the banks of Lake Radnor, I listen to the call of the bullfrog, watch the deer and geese feed in the green pond goo of duckweed, see the waterbugs dance on the surface of the lake, making patterns like raindrops across its surface. I feel the silky warmth of the humid evening on my bare arms, become aware of the sensuousness of the misty night. I plan on cool showers when I get home and a long tall iced tea or lemonade. I eat more lightly, adapting to my body’s diminished appetite in the heat. 

When I am battened down in my air conditioned office, I disperse essential oils into the atmosphere to remind me of the mountains and cool breezes I long for: tree scents of cedar, spruce, juniper, pine, and fir; and herb scents of spearmint, peppermint, lavender, thyme, and marjoram. I listen to my body and take naps when possible. I allow myself to be more sluggish and respect the power of the heat and humidity. People die in these conditions when they don’t adapt or take care of themselves. And I wait, doing what work I can, but also knowing that the change in the weather is in God’s timing, not my own. I practice the difficult art of patience. 

When you are in a waiting time, it is time to let go and let God. It sounds simplistic, but there are seasons when we as creatures need to work with the rhythms of creation and wait on the timing of the Creator, whether we want to or not. Fighting it only makes the inevitable more difficult. Surrendering the ego, letting go of your own agenda, opening to a wider, wiser unfolding of events—all of this can bear fruit in the long wait of the summer heat. 

The hot humid weather will eventually pass. The time of waiting will be over. You will discover that during the time of waiting, through the long hot days and humid nights, the garden was still growing and the plants were developing toward the days of harvest. The wise gardener is patient, whether he is waiting on the weather or the development of his own soul.

The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun. Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it.
--Henri Nouwen

Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain.
--James 5:6 (RSV)

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.
--Henry David Thoreau

The seed of mystery lies in muddy water.
How can I perceive this mystery?
Water becomes clear through stillness.
How can I become still?
By flowing with the stream.
--Lao Tzu

Every time something difficult and challenging has happened to me it has marked the beginning of a new era in my life.
--Kimberly Kirberger

A streak of toughness combined with optimism is a good passport through life. The winners are the ones who get on with it.
--Maeve Binchy

Any man can work when every stroke of his hands brings down the fruit rattling from the tree… but to labor in season and out of season, under every discouragement… that requires a heroism which is transcendent.
--Henry Ward Beecher

One day at a time—this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet become. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.
--Ida Scott Taylor

Whenever a mind is simple, it is able to receive divine wisdom; old things pass away; it lives now and absorbs past and future into the present hour.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you let yourself be absorbed completely, if you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.
--Anne Morrow Lindbergh

With all our philosophy, with all our grand and enhancing ideas, we cannot escape life as we live it. Star-gazers are still walking on the solid earth.
--D.T. Suzuki

In walking, just walk. In sitting, just sit. Above all, don’t wobble.
--Yun Men

O God, grant us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed; the courage to change what should be changed; and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.
--Reinhold Niebuhr

One act of thanksgiving made when things go wrong is worth a thousand when they go well.
--St. John of the Cross

Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible. Not to run away.
--Dag Hammarskjold

There is a kind of release that comes directly to those who have undergone an ordeal and who know, having survived it, that they are equal to all of life’s occasions. 
--Lewis Mumford

Meaning, moods, the whole scale of our inner experience, finds in nature “the correspondences” through which we may know our boundless selves.
--Kathleen Raine

Introducing an inspiring friend: 

I have been following Chris Guillebeau at http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/ for guidance and inspiration on building my Internet business. He has just released a new Unconventional Guide on using social networking for your business. http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/the-unconventional-guide-to-the-social-web/ Also check out Christine Kane, songwriter, to see what she is doing with her Internet business. Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine with more than 4,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a free subscription to LiveCreative at http://christinekane.com/. And if you are lover of the food and the written word, check out this site: http://alimentumjournal.com/ I met the editor at a party. She moved to Nashville recently from New York. They currently feature a young Parisian blog writer who took her writing and love of food into a whole new career at http://chocolateandzucchini.com/
 

Comments

  1. September 11, 2009 5:10 PM CDT

    I'm writing about YOU & Abundance on my blog today! I have always loved your books and I'm glad to see that your website is up and running!

    www.thefootballwife.com

    - Sara -- The Football Wife

  2. July 1, 2010 1:54 PM CDT

    It is good to see that you are still surviving and thriving! This season has been an especially challenging one for me, with the death of my father in April and taking care of my mother and all the "loose ends" involved. I like to stop by here for encouragement and inspiration. Namaste, Candy!

    - Thomas W. Parker