Last week, I sat by a tidal inlet for six days watching it be transformed by the pull of the moon. When the tide was in, the water was deep and still. Then it would begin to move as if on a mission to empty itself, leaving its depths exposed and soft edges bare. As I watched this daily succession—one body of water leaving and a completely new one returning—I thought about another experience I had had recently.
It was early morning, the stars just beginning to fade as dawn was breaking. I was walking a labyrinth meditating. With each turn of the labyrinth, a new vista appeared. One moment I was walking toward a sky turning pink, the sun making its way over a mountainous horizon; at the next turn I was walking toward the stillness of a dark grove of trees. As I walked a pattern began to emerge and with each turn toward the dark, I felt sadness as I left the sunrise behind. I was surprised when my tears began to flow. Like the tidal inlet at low tide, I felt myself being emptied of the pain of loss and self-doubt I had been experiencing.
The day before had been a challenging day, which is what brought me to the labyrinth to begin with. It was one of those days where I felt vulnerable and afraid, and I just wanted life to be different. I wanted light without dark and love without loss. My walk within the labyrinth reminded me it is in going through these emptying experiences that we begin to see and know the depth of our love and compassion. And it is from these depths that we find the courage to transform the pain of loss into a tenderness we can live with and hold our insecurities within the light of our self-acceptance.
Our lives, like a tidal inlet, are in a constant state of flow, ebbing between tides of emptiness and fullness. In our comings and goings, we pass by and collide with each other and when we do, we are transformed. Even the smallest of these encounters creates a ripple. So today, let’s flow with awareness, ebbing through the highs and lows of life and feeling the pull of the moon within us. Yes.
P.S. As I wrote I kept recalling one of my favorite poems, titled “Birdwings.” It is written by the 13th century Sufi poet Rumi and translated by Coleman Barks. Here it is:
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you are bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes, and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birdwings.