Letting Go and Letting Life Happen
I took today’s photo in late June when I decided to attend a naturist retreat – a retreat with only one participant. I needed the time alone, alone with nature and myself in my natural state. The shedding of clothing was symbolic of a psychological emptying, a stripping away to remove as many layers of self-deception in order to leave myself open to something more. I knew that everything that I held on to wasn’t enough. My anxieties weren’t abating and I just couldn’t find a path anymore – live was unraveling in spite of all of my efforts, all of my intentions.
I don’t know what the intentions of the woodpecker were other than to be attentive to what was happening so that he could get his “fill” of bugs. He was open and was teaching me to be patient, to be open and let life happen. I needed to empty myself of the garbage that was overflowing in my mind and spirit if I was going to have room for what was missing.
“Spiritual emptiness is not only an open mind but also an open self. We have to get ourselves out of the way – our explanations, our goals, our habits, and our anxieties.. We often try to avoid disaster and fill life with order and meaning, but just as often life unravels all our careful preparations. At that moment we can complain, but I have found it is best to go with the loss and be educated by it. The willingness to stand in our ignorance gives us character and keeps us honest.” [Moore, The Soul’s Religion, p. 10]
In the past, and by this I mean the not-so-distant past, I worked overtime trying to anticipate life: “What did my wife want? What did my children want? What did the world want? What should I do to having the world come crashing down on me?” It seemed as though I was just a half-step ahead of disaster. I didn’t realise it, but I was actually cultivating disaster rather than “cutting it off at the pass.”
The retreat did teach me something. With no one to blame or complain to, I found myself becoming silent, listening to almost nothing. For three days the silence continued and in the silence my anxieties abated. I began to breathe more freely. I felt alive and that, “being alive” was enough of a “meaning” to satisfy the ache within my soul. And then I began to smile.
“Deep emptiness lies in the vacant feeling you have when complaints and words of self-defense fall away.” [p. 11]