While trekking through a nature preserve called the Earth Sanctuary, a place of spiritual diversity filled with shrines, small temples, and altars, I happened upon a labyrinth which beckoned me to enter. Having been carrying the weight of yet another family crisis, I was once again searching for solutions and have always found that walking such ancient circles offers wisdom. Besides, when I finally slow down and stay deliberately present, insights come.
So I begin, carefully navigating my rather large feet to remain within the narrow confines of the path. Eventually at the center I stand erect, eyes closed, and begin to breathe with the gentle wind that accompanies me this spring day. In a matter of minutes the words LET GO come. Easier said than done my sardonic brain thinks, having failed miserable at numerous attempts to control my life–such things as debilitating hypochondria, lost friendships, failing at solving my grown children’s problems, and myriad faux pas committed that I continue to regret.
Take hypochondria, for instance. For the most part I deny physical ailments because what I don’t know won’t worry me, and yet they do! Similarly, giving up friendships that had become hurtful and even toxic while knowing that anyone who treats you as an option when you treat them as a priority needs to go. And yet, I hold on! As for grown children and their issues, they actually don’t have their focus on us so why do I keep them front and center in my consciousness? And as for faux pas, once the words are out of my mouth or a misguided action happens it can’t be erased, save making amends on paper or face to face.
So I am left in a quandary as I head out of the labyrinth confused as to how to even begin to LET GO. With tears running down my cheeks I repeat the phrase...let go..let go.. let go. Once outside the protective circle I am completely disoriented. What’s more I am supposed to meet up with a group of women and surely now will be a no show. In my haste and panic I take one long turn after another going deep into an unknown forest and yes indeed, instead of letting go, I tighten up. Haven’t I learned after all these years of practice that when stopped in my tracks I need to turn fixation away from fear and simply surrender? This is a nature walk, for God’s sake, not a marathon!
I plop down on a nearby boulder and breathe, all the while listening to a cacophony of birds singing like a choir in an ancient cathedral. A little prayer to St. Anthony gets me up and going a few minutes later and without noticing it, I feel soothed by the magic of this place and begin to let its beauty take over. Wandering now and free of panic, I see my group in the distance and meander toward them.
Our destination is a Native American Medicine Wheel–a shrine dedicated to the elders whose spirits and energy are always available to us. As I step over the threshold I am overcome with feelings of grit, courage, risk taking and faith, all characteristics of my mother, grandmothers and great grandmothers. It occurred to me that they have always stood ready, from their lives and the grave, to buoy me. Indeed, their very DNA lives within and is always there. When next I think I must do it all, perhaps I will remember to turn my eyes to the hills and my thoughts to my ancestors and LET GO. None of us is alone.
Thank you for your vulnerability~
Your words always seem to resonate deep into my soul.
Sending you my warmest support, and my sincerest gratitude.
As always Joan, you hit the nail on the head. We will always worry about our kids, it’s a mom thing! To have the courage to let go and allow our children to live their truth, make their own mistakes and be supportive without telling them what to do is the hardest thing of all. Let go indeed!
In the midst of winter’s dreary season, this reading brought light, reflection, warmth, insight, and peace. ….your gentle reminders are a beautiful blessing! I am hopeful peace will come to you and please savor & relish in the wisdom you share with women around the world (I certainly do)….you are a treasure!
Joan, you, of all of us, must remember your guidance to the rest of us…let go of those who no longer support you for who you are; as far as family, we can only do so much…be there when they need us, after all, you raised them to be independent; and always take a deep, cleansing breath. So easy to say and so hard to do! I was really glad to see your post. Hang in there, my friend! We are in Texas now after a bit of a delay. My husband was very sick at the end of our cruise in December and ended up in ICU in San Francisco for 10 days. Almost didn’t make it…we are so blessed. Enjoying the warmer weather!
The courage it takes to surrender. A process. It may hurt me, but it will not harm me.
As always I feel renewed after reading your words. I have read all of your books and can not wait to see the movie. I have read “By the Sea” at least 13 times.
Joan: once again, as in your first book, A Year by the Sea, our souls and thoughts connect.
I am facing the heart breaking experiences that you relate, while you tearfully walk in silence and reflection. My common sense tells me to let go, but my mother’s heart will not allow me to find a peaceful place to rest.
I hope you have found your way to let go, my friend.
What a beautiful tribute to nature and our mothers here and beyond.