by David Whyte (House of Belonging)
Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again
on an open sky.
has to be
so you can find
the one line
Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out
someone has written
in the ashes of your life.
You are not leaving.
Even as the light fades quickly now,
you are arriving.
What is the “one line written inside you” that your 2019 Watchword might represent? I invite you to share your Watchword in the Comments section below. Thank you, Edna, for sharing David Whyte’s poem above. Thank you, Bae and Mike, for kicking off the Watchword dialogue!
I’ve been quite engaged with my 2019 Watchword “Simplifying.” What will it teach me? What gifts does it hold for me as I cross the threshold into my 8th decade? Perhaps you will recognize yourself here…
NAPERVILLE, ILLINOIS NOVEMBER 24, 2018
Harry and I are putting up our Solstice Tree, about to adorn it with little fairy lights and the tiny birds and butterflies that symbolize beloved family and friends. I pull out the fairy lights and find they are hopelessly knotted, halting our progress. This project is causing mutual irritation between our personalities and we need to calm down.
I volunteer to untangle the fairy lights. Even though I’m positive it wasn’t me who so carelessly threw them in the box last year. Ha!
Finding both ends of the tangle, I pass the next 90 minutes in silence as I find my way to calm, unknotting as I go. I enter into a deep meditation that has me ponder how these fairy lights resemble the knotted-up places in my life. I observe how my personality gets tangled up into tiffs and snits and rants for no good reason at all—except to satisfy some fleeting self-righteous emotion. I also recognize the lifelong, familiar pattern that results when the personality compulsively makes everything unnecessarily complicated! Tangles “R” Us!
Ninety minutes pass. The fairy lights along with my unsettled mind are miraculously untangled, ready to carry out their mission to bring Beauty and Joy to a world badly in need of both.
Suddenly my 2019 Watchword, Simplifying, makes itself known!
I ask Harry’s forgiveness and he asks for mine. We return to joyfully co-creating our luminous magical tree that honors All Our Relations.
The past few weeks of observing and pondering Simplifying are already catalyzing new patterns in my thoughts, words and actions. I sincerely want to experience what “living simply” is all about. I truly want to understand what my teacher means when she says, “It’s quite simple.”
Looking more deeply, I’m realizing that this Complicating Stuff pattern comes from The Perfectionist part of the personality that habitually demands all manner of things be perfect. This ancient part of the personality wants approval, validation and well, Perfection with a capital ‘P’. The Perfectionist convinced my child self that if only she could think the perfect thought, say the perfect words, create the perfect___, then she would be a success, make her parents proud, and possibly be found lovable. Early on, I fell into showing off for my parents like the kid riding her bike, saying, “Look Ma, no hands!” Gradually the way of the Perfectionist caused complete Complication in my thought process. Oy vey. Thanks to the tangled fairy lights, I woke up to how painful and unnecessary this unconscious Complicating approach to life has become. It seems that the Perfectionist is not fond of Simplifying…
SIMPLIFYING—2019 WATCHWORD (Council Suit)
I Am One Who guides you
To slowly and carefully
Untangle the Karmic knots that constrict you.
I Am One Who reminds you
To simplify, simplify, simplify.
I want you to remember to Simply pick up just
One knotted thread and untangle it,
Knowing that gradually you will free yourself.
Ask, “What is the simplest way forward?”
Breathe and continue
Following this simple Path to Freedom.
I’ll be checking back in this year sharing my insights about the guidance of Simplifying. And asking what insights your Watchword practice is bringing you.
Gratitude to my Fount of Wisdom friend Alia Christine who gave me Wabi Sabi: Timeless Wisdom for a Stress-Free Life by Agneta Nyholm Winqvist. Its wisdom is assisting my inquiry into how to shift into a simpler way of life. Wabi Sabi explores the Japanese Zen practice of embracing imperfection, impermanence, and true beauty. Just what the Wise Ones ordered for 2019!
Today, January 20, with the Total Lunar Eclipse in the Leo Full Moon, is an excellent time to be inspired by your Watchword practice! (The Moon is the symbol of the subjective amplifier of one’s emotions. An Eclipse brings more lasting emotional intensity. Eclipses are not negative. Pay attention to the Eclipse’s energy that manifests and learn from it.)
I appreciate Michele Grace Lessirard who invites us to reflect on the symbolism of the Full Moon in Leo:
“The Capricorn New Moon was sandwiched between two full moons. Cancer and Leo. Why does that matter? Cancer asks us to root. Capricorn asks us to build. Leo asks us to take a creative risk.
If you want to build something you need foundational energy to support it. You have to be all in, and able to move through the emotions that bubble up wanting to stop you at the gate.
Full Moons are soul force personified. Bigness.
The (December 22, 2018) Cancer Full Moon brought up emotions you needed to clear, and as we head towards the Leo Full Moon Lunar Eclipse, it’s asking “do I have the heart and soul force to move this ___________out into the world?”
“Does it give me joy?” Leo wants play. It wants you to take a risk, asking you to live your best life not from perfection rather from INSPIRATION. Where am I being asked to take inspired action...this week you get to see what’s in your way.”
Finally, I bow in gratitude to the great poet Mary Oliver, “bride to amazement”, who changed worlds on January 17, 2019. Out of so many favorites, here is my most favorite of her poems. I am grateful for the inspiration, joy and mindfulness her poetry evokes in me. Thank you for all your Goodness, Mary! Listen here for the 2015 On Being interview by Krista Tippett.
― by Mary Oliver, from Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate.
Give in to it.
There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.
We are not wise, and not very often kind.
And much can never be redeemed.
Still life has some possibility left.
Perhaps this is its way of fighting back,
that sometimes something happened
better than all the riches or power in the world.
It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.
Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb.
I wish you Joyful Inspiration as you engage with your Watchword, dear Friends. I look forward to your posts in the Comment section! Next month is Love Month and I’ll have a special treat to share then.
In the meantime, may you walk in Beauty, today and all the days of your life. Love,