Updated: Sep 13
Benjamin Franklin said: “…in this world nothing is certain except death and taxes.” (https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/benjamin-franklins-last-great-quote-and-the-constitution#:~:text=%E2%80%9COur%20new%20Constitution%20is%20now,and%20taxes%2C%E2%80%9D%20Franklin%20said)
But I think change is inevitable. We don’t want to be babies forever, do we? But we can be quite resistant to change: the child who doesn’t want to move, the parent who struggles when their child goes to school, or leaves home, the worker who finds getting a new boss difficult regardless of how good/kind/helpful they are.
The metaphor of the journey is common in a number of cultures, as it speaks of the changes that are a part of life, whether physical or interior changes.
According to De Waal, Thomas Merton said “we should let change co
me quietly, invisibly, secretly.” There have definitely been times in my life when I’ve wanted certain changes, only to find that on reflection it has been happening without me striving to make it happen’. Our journey though, is often steps forward (or sidewards), as well as steps backwards.
Our life journey is rarely solitary. We can be open to learning from others, people from the past, people in our present, people we come across for a short time. We can hear them out, or their stories, assess without judging them whether there is something they contribute that we want in our lives. It is an active paying attention. Not a passive, doing whatever anyone else does.
De Waal tells us that Vincent van Gogh, even though his paintings came from a place of deep pain, painted over 30 canvases depicting wheat fields. Signs of hope, with their cycles of sowing and harvest, life and rebirth. The roads travelling through them take us into the wheat fields, taking us on a journey, into places of hope.
Spend a few minutes thinking about your life journey so far, as if it is a sequence of images. Note some of the times you consider significant turns. Let it come and let it go, until you are present to the now moment.
If you’ve been to Fosterton Retreat you’ll know we have, at present, 3 labyrinths you can walk. A labyrinth is not a maze (although, as Max says, it is amazing) but a metaphor for our journey or journeys. We have handheld wooden labyrinths to use with your hands, and we also use paper ones.
If you are close to an outside labyrinth that you could safely use in these covid times, use it. If you own a handheld one, this is good too and in case you don’t have either, there is a labyrinth below you copy, put on an A4 page, enlarge to fit the page, print off and trace with your finger.
Sit silently paying attention to where you are, what is happening in your body, take a deep breath and let it go. Then begin walking or tracing the labyrinth. There’s no hurry. Let the twists and turns take you to the centre and remain there a little while. Slowly travel back out.
Plant some seeds in your garden or a pot.
Visit them each day, noting when they start to shoot through the soil.
As they grow, spend a little time each day contemplating them, note the changes, consider these I light of the poem. Overtime, see what they have to teach you about change. Remember to capture these somehow in your journal.
“I am a gardener, I know
plants grow at the bottom first,
root before stem,
stem before flower.
the soil must be rich, dark, I must water until it’s soaked
so thirsty roots
will go deep to drink
not fan out on the surface
to wither in the heat,…
go down first,
trust depths and darkness,