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Once upon a time …
“… a princess lost her beloved prince. The thought of celebrating her birthday at home without him made her very sad. As the occasion drew closer, she decided to travel to a remote mountain lake to surround herself with beauty.
Early on the morning of her birthday, she left her lodging to walk to the shore of the lake to see the sunrise over the mountain reflected in the waters, but it was too foggy to see anything at all. As she stood there, she listened to the water quietly lapping at the shore.
At noon, she walked back to the shore to see the bright sun and the beautiful mountains towering over the waters. Again, it was too foggy to see a thing. She stood there anyway, enjoying the soft scent of the mountain air.
As evening approached, she returned to the shore to watch the sun set over the mountain lake. Once again, it was too foggy even to see the lake let alone the sunset. She sat down and ran her fingers and toes through the lush moss that grew along the banks of the water.
Late that night, she returned to the lake one more time hoping to see the stars above reflected in the water below. Alas, the fog had still not lifted. She could not see a thing. As she stood alone on the bank, she realized that even though she could not see the glories of life that lay before her, she knew they were there. Though they weren’t visible just now, she had no doubt that in the days, and weeks, and months to come there would be more beauty than she could imagine.
On her birthday, in the fog on the banks of the lake, she discovered that in the midst of her sorrow and disappointment life had reached out to touch her gently with its music, its sweet scent, and a velvety soft caress. She returned to her lodging with a renewed trust that her story would go on to end in happily ever.”
– a fairy tale version of a story told to me by a friend
Trust in life is easier when we are paying attention
To trust in life is not naïve. Spiritual traditions around the world teach of our inherent goodness. That the very essence of us is love. And that we exist in and are sustained by a profusion of love. When we pay attention, the love all around us is impossible to miss.
Sadly, we are, as a species, typically way too distracted by our own hectic lives to pay attention to the swirl and spectacle of life all around us. We live, instead, in the gray-tones of our own blindness to the fact that we are part of something more – a continuous, endless, cosmic celebration of life and love.
Life is always reaching out to us in love
Even in times of pain and struggle, we can join in the celebration. We may not be dancing wildly. We may not be laughing uproariously. But, like our princess, we can allow life and love to brush over us softly with its compassionate, healing touch.
Step outside and see
For me, as is true for our princess, stepping outside is a reliable way to reconnect with the love and goodness of this world and of life itself. To step out of doors is also to step outside of your own small story – your worries, your broken heart, your frustrations, your busyness. When we step outside, it is no longer possible to believe that we are the center of the world. We are too tiny, too powerless, too vulnerable.
Stepping outside reminds us that we are bit-players in the stupendous and sweeping saga of life. Far from being a disappointment, this reminder is always a relief to me. I don’t have to have it all figured out. I don’t have to take care of everything. I don’t have to have all the answers.
When we remember our own smallness, it is easier to say YES to the sweep of life
Somewhat ironically, it is in my smallness and relative helplessness that I find comfort. Like a quiet ripple on a lake, like the soft scent of a mountain forest, like a rich, soft swath of moss, I am only what I am. I only have the gifts and abilities that I have. And the world (life!) would not be the same without me.
Adam Bucko writes in his book, Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide, “every time I would touch my own irrelevance, there was an energy of God that would begin to emerge in our midst. All I had to do was say yes to it. The presence of God was there, always ready to pick up the broken pieces from the floor and reassemble them into something good. …”
If the word “God” pinches you somehow, please feel free to substitute the word “Life” – in my humble heart they are one and the same. Both words point to the profusion of love that sustains us, that fills us, that flows through us, and that connects us infinitely and intimately to the world around us. When we are awake to this joyful certainty, when we say “YES” to life, there can be no other ending than “happily ever after.”
In the poet Rumi’s wise words, there are “hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” The only thing that is important is that you do. To learn more about drawing your spirituality into your daily life explore the spirituality and spiritual direction pages on the Yoga With Spirit website.