By Maria Demare
“She moves in secret, quiet shadows craning necks to taste the mouth of the moon.”
It is definitely profound, coming to the awareness that your heart is in need of healing. So often folks talk about healing as though it were a process that has a definite starting point, as if we could track our progress with an app or plan out an arrival date for the big unveiling of the newly-improved, shiny and polished “us.” The truth is, most of the time when we embark on a journey to heal we aren’t fully conscious of what is happening until we’re right in the thick of it, or else we don’t know that we need to heal anything at all until we find ourselves at the bottom of the (literal or figurative) barrel, dry throats eager for anything that will quench our desperation. Or worse yet, we never make it to the threshold of healing because we are so afraid of what we will feel if we assess ourselves honestly that we choose not to feel anything at all; most of the time, these choices unfold unconsciously.
What I have known to be real in my own life is that healing unfolds in seasons. To quote Anaïs Nin, my first great love, “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically.” Our growth and our healing are dissolved in layers of time. Piece by piece, we discover ourselves. With each layer that we unveil, we begin and end a new cycle.
Every year there is a Winter, an entire season devoted to barrenness. Our Winters often represent the most difficult and painful periods of our growth, the moments of despair that freeze over into longing. In Winter, everything feels hard. In Winter, the intensity of our pain engulfs us, making us long for comfort that often seems never to arrive. Winter is lonely. Winter depletes us. And yet, if we look carefully, even Winter is beautiful. It teaches us over time (certainly for me, after many years and seasons) how to protect ourselves from the harshness and cold of this world. It teaches how to appreciate the raw beauty of our pain, even when we struggle to accept and surrender to it. Winter teaches us how to hope.
And just when we feel as though we will never survive our hurts long enough to feel the sun’s warmth upon our faces ever again, behold: Spring arrives. Spring is where the thaw lives. As the ice of Winter begins to melt, so too do our hearts begin to clear a space able to hold room for all the pain we endured during Winter’s cull. It is in Spring that we fertilize our gardens, recognizing the heart’s desire to sow seeds of growth in our worlds. Thick black mud is unearthed after our pain thaws; it is here that we are presented with an opportunity to meet ourselves anew, to look at our own suffering and to begin to unpack it, to draw boundaries for the gardens we wish to sow in our future selves and to nourish and love ourselves as we sprout new roots.
The eagerness and fresh breath of Spring’s promise spills over into the virility of Summer’s kiss, allowing us to suckle at the breast of the fruit our healing yields. Summer is the warmth that our hearts are provided with if we are brave enough to forgive ourselves. Summer is Winter’s reward, the giddiness of play after the seriousness of study. Yet even Summer can deplete us if we do not tend to and care for ourselves as we grow. The sun’s warmth is nourishing, but if we do not listen closely to our hearts we risk over-exerting ourselves, of playing Icarus, of reaching too far out on the branch when we have good fruit available nearer to us that can nourish and sustain us all in good time. The Harvest happens over a period of time — it does not take place in a single day. So too must we remember that we do not reap the fullness of our growth all at once, nor do we heal absolutely and completely in one pass around the sun. Learning to appreciate the fullness of this season allows us to preserve part of the Harvest, to save and to store it so that we are prepared for colder weather. To dance beneath the moon and to revel in the beauty of our own immense fullness.
Then, Fall. A time, again, for reflection. A time to reminisce and consider all that has transpired over recent months. Fall is where we prepare ourselves to accept the truth of our position, to understand that healing is not a destination we arrive at but a process of becoming. Fall is where we accept ourselves, where we come to surrender to the inevitable reality that we are in a constant state of flux, that control is an illusion and that our hearts, like the Earth herself, have no masters. Fall is the quiet place that lives inside a gentle breath. Fall is a sunset that closes one chapter with the promise that there is so much of the story yet to follow.
This world calls on us to hold so much contradiction. We are constantly overstimulated, saturated with vibrations telling us who to be and how to act and what to feel. In a world desensitized by the superfluous, it is a radical act to choose to feel, to pick up the fragments and try to rearrange them even though we might not understand the picture they inevitably will reveal. Duality is an illusion betrothed to us by a false dream; we owe it to ourselves to wake up, to shake the sleep from our eyes and look at the truth of ourselves, to realize that we can love ourselves into wholeness. We owe it to ourselves to stop hiding, to realize that we can feel safe knocking on the doors of our own hearts. Healing is hard, but not nearly so hard as never finding solitude, not nearly so hard as never being able to feel safe in the tranquility of our heart’s own home.
Remember that wherever you are, you are precious. And you, dear one, are doing a very good job.