The Gift of Steadiness


The day after the day after the election last week (so yes, last Thursday), I went to my first ever silent retreat. It was a mini retreat - only from 10-2, but it was to be spent completely in silence; either exploring the natural surroundings of the retreat - the trees, paths, and pond, or resting inside the beautiful, cozy property.

Admittedly I was still deeply shocked and saddened by the election and spent the majority of the retreat leader's quick intro weeping. Nevertheless, I was excited to try this silent thing out and listen to my own intuition and any other messages of guidance, solace or hope. 

And I did, indeed, receive. 

Initially, I found myself wanting to stay inside the nest-like retreat living rom. But after composing myself, and getting a snack and some tea,  I took my journal with me to the front porch and sat in a chair overlooking the outside scene. Baby steps. 

Immediately I was warmed by the light of the sun. It was so powerful. So beautiful. So elevating. Buoyed by the sunshine I decided to journey down to the pond. As soon as I took a step down the path, I could see all these little grasshoppers jumping down it, each time I stepped, like they were guiding me down to the water. There were butterflies almost everywhere - I felt like I had stepped out of DC and into Narnia.

Birds singing, dragonflies guiding me down to the pond, and a palpable optimism and lightheartedness of these natural creatures. I found myself actually laughing out loud as I continued down the path.

As I arrived at the pond, I noticed the trees flanking me on almost all sides. I meditated for a few moments, thinking about these trees. Their deep deep steadiness, their roots reaching so far down into the earth. Though the trees were preparing for winter, loosening and losing their leaves, there was no concern. The natural order was steady. Ever-changing, but ever-relaxed. Unshakable.

I laid down right there on the ground and thought about our world, our country. How much there is to do, how much I ached to bridge the disconnects of hate, misunderstanding, and fear. As I stared up at the sky I realized there was so much I wanted to do to help mother earth as well. So much pain and pollution. But for a few moments as my body was held by the earth and my gaze captivated by the sky, I was the one fully held. I was the one being helped. I was supported and nourished. I ended up falling asleep right there for almost an hour and waking up feeling deeply rejuvenated and safe. 

It made me realize this: in order to affect change, we must be as grounded, as steady and as rooted as the trees we so often take for granted. Acting from fear cuts us off from our higher selves. The school of nature gave me the greatest gift that day - the gift of steadiness, and the gift of being held. I am so grateful for this exquisite earth, for its simple, patient beauty and timely lessons. 

May the power of nature offer you too, some steady peace in this time.