I stepped out of my car, scanned the front yard and breathed. I sensed that the yard was breathing with me.
When I left the retreat house last fall, the lawn was completely covered in leaves. I had tried to clear them during my stay, but the more I raked, the more the leaves came down and down and down. There were mounds of leaves everywhere.
At the time, I could relate to the heaviness of the lawn. I also sensed that the lawn could relate to the heaviness in me. It was a difficult time; I was in touch with lots of grief.
Now, here we stood together, the lawn and I, feeling open and free.
Later, I walked the yard and discovered the lingering debris. A plastic bottle. A broken birdhouse. An old bag. Fallen branches. Acorn caps. Dead flowers. This didn’t bother me: I could easily help the yard with this tidying. I also knew that this work would energize me.
Then, to my dismay, I found huge piles of leaves that spanned a large section of the backyard. Apparently, they hadn’t made it to the street for the city’s fall pickup. My heart dropped. How would the yard ever be free of all of these leaves?
And suddenly, I was surprised by my own returning grief. How would these strong emotions ever move through me?
I decided to assist the lawn, knowing that it would assist me. I located a cart and then scooped leaves into it. This was hard work; the leaves were wet and heavy. Finally, when the cart was full, I dragged it to a designated spot and emptied it. Slowly, I did this again and again.
Eventually, some space began to open up in this section of the yard. With the help of a rake, I sensed that the lawn was breathing just a little easier. Some green grass emerged, and I knew that the yard was feeling more free. I also experienced more space opening up in me.
Of course, this task was far bigger than I could finish during my December stay. I know that the work will never be complete for the yard or for me. And yet, as I continue to reflect on this time, I’m in touch with all the freedom that emerged for both of us.
I wish you much peace this holiday season, especially all of you who are grieving. As we move into 2023, may we continue our own healing work and in turn, the healing work in our families and communities. May we create a world in which ALL feel open and free.
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