Now is our time, as in no other season, to cultivate affection for the heartfelt, natural dreams within us each. May we support one another to do so, as, what I call "friends of the work." While politicians do what politicians do, may we find our way, instead, into the frost-kissed clearing, beyond brambles and tangles of distractions and party lines, and take a deep cleansing breath. May we pause to take worthy note of nature's magnificence that resides, as well, in you. Here, beauty dwells. Here, you are free to be yourself and find the key that has eluded you in days gone by. Here, you leave your tracks, your mark, where all dwell free.
Make no mistake. Just as it was so for our ancestors, it is during these few brief, guarded months and flickering moments by the crackling logs in the fire that something extraordinary is offered us. May we be wise enough not to miss the gift.
Mother Nature gives us many clues. Blanketing the earth beneath patchwork quilt of gray, white, mauves, and brown, we do well to snuggle in, to rest by the hearth, to withdraw from the elements, the snow, the sleet, the ice, and storm. She has set the stage. She has given us the ultimate tuck-in reminder of what to do. In every way, we are enjoined to come inside, to stay awhile, to warm ourselves, and receive nourishing care. Now is our chance to turn inward, to renew, to recalibrate.
Here, in the quietude, a profound process is underway: the creative incubation of what we hold most dear. May we be wise enough to listen? For it takes some mighty intentional paying attention to the gentle whisper of our own best self from far, far below everyday thinking, perseverating, and "catastrophizing" to hear the present call to life.
Planted beneath the chatter, the self-doubt, the anxieties about the future, something stirs in the silent underground of the soul. Like underground caves in France that house spectacular cave drawings, the beauty within us must be approached with care, patience, honor and a spoonful of humor. We must enter with an attitude of respect if we want to find what restores our innermost life and dreams. It takes a gentle approach, with a deft hand and firm footsteps, coupled with flexibility, patiently entering the unknown, pausing to savor unexpected discoveries, dwelling there to let what shows itself to touch us, to inform of our connection to all creation.
Many years ago, I was shown an example in southern France, while exploring cave art that went back 25,000-30,000 years before my birth. Having undertaken the descent with excitement, precaution and trepidation of all such journeys, I proceeded slowly with the guide. Ducking beneath and around stalagmites, suddenly, from around the bend in the cave, what I saw stopped me in my tracks. One single, small, stark, reddish handprint, alone on a wall, met me in the darkness. My eyes welled up for the sheer wonder.
Here, in this place of endless shadows, deeper in the earth's core than you can imagine, far below hanging roots of trees overhead, one little girl, apparently 14, and her dog, according to scientists, had wandered into this place on her own search and felt compelled to leave her mark. Meeting her journey with my own, through her mark, changed my life. I would not be writing to you, responding to you here, had that not happened.
We search because it is in us to do so. We leave our creative mark because it is in us to do so. We create because we are creatures of creation. And, we prefer to have accompaniment. Life can be lonely enough without a non-judgmental companion!
The fact is that such a non-judgmental companion exists, and we need not go far to find it. In fact, we do well to stop our search in the outer, return to that cave within, and bear witness. For in that "space of unknowing," that interior place we avoid like the plague, what is wisest, truest, and most beautiful in our nature lives waits for our approach, longs for our deliverance from the chains and shackles we have constructed that hold us small, fearful, separate, imprisoned in lives outgrown, and stories that have grown stale, failing to inspire us. Here, in this hallowed land, dwells all that would set us free to be the global selves, the connected beings that we truly are if we would but see. Here, within this moment and this breath, is the hope for our salvation. It is not fancy, but it is pure, honest, infallible guidance for our footsteps as inter-beings.
This year, as our land is blanketed in wintry condition, may we seize the opportunity to be reminded of the following six guidance steps to soul:
1. Snuggle in. Find a simple means of getting cozy.
2. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply.
3. Let go of whatever has been troubling you, at least for these 10-20 minutes.
4. Ask your CSO (Chief Spiritual Officer) to guide you. Your best self has a way of letting arise what needs your attention. Ask for one tiny action step you might take today to forward the creative stirrings in your heart that might bring delight.
5. Release all need to go solo or to hang onto grudges. Make room for others to assist. A case in point may be found in Love Project 2013 on my site. True Love Projects cannot be created alone.
6. Enjoy what comes by trusting your process of complete commitment.
By way of illustration, during a dry period in my life, I cast an intention of following the above steps one winter. During my meditation, a repeating image had to do with caves. One morning, through creative imagination, I "saw" cave paintings. Ten hours later, I opened a magazine that came in the mail that afternoon. As I scanned the pages in bed beneath my down comforter, with my cup of tea, I came upon something in a rather remote section. It was a little story about artists who would be going to France in two months to explore French cave art. I did not know how I would find the money or the time off from work. All I knew was that this synchronicity could not be avoided without an even bigger cost to my heart and soul. The action step was clear: Contact the organizer that evening and reserve a spot. I did so. The funds arrived just as synchronistical. Five days later, I received an unsolicited phone call from someone I had never met abroad. His request was that I come to lead a retreat on Creative Living. I did so. The retreat paid in full what the trip to France cost.
It is all in the practice. Dreams that arise from our deepest frontiers have magic in them and a powerful force behind them. Let yourself dream big. Take a little action step in the direction of your truest nature. Become strong like elk, clear as eagles, steadfast and playful as otters, powerfully maternal to your dream as bears. Practice faithfully connecting with your hidden wisdom. Trust what comes. As Henry David Thoreau put it: "What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us."
Enjoy the following video by Scott Mckinley Productions, produced for Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the music by Kenny G. It will not surprise you that it was a Grand Prize winner at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Montana.
Do not be tempted to fall into another "winter of discontent." What you seed with your thoughts will show itself in your life this coming year. Take care to plant well, to allow what you plant in your mind to germinate creatively, beautifully. Rest. The time is coming for you to serve the world in an expanded and beautiful way with others.
Be the Love,
Your turn: What restores your creative inspiration during winter? I'm listening! Thank you for forwarding this.
Call to action: Our little ones need us! Please see carabarker.com and consider Love Project 2013, and pass along. If it's to be, it's up to we!
For more by Dr. Cara Barker, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.