Transitions by Anya Lawrence

When life suddenly takes us in a new direction, we think “this is a new beginning; this is the birth.” However, that is a misconception, because actually this new something began some time ago.  It began when the usual began to seem constricting.  What gave pleasure and meaning no longer feeds you in the same way.  Perhaps there is a death of someone close to you; or something you have relied upon no longer serves you.

However, it happens.  The life you have known has begun its shift.  This is the death that the universe has given you.  Along with this death will come feelings of shock, grief, and loss.  The world as you knew it is no more.  You wake up to find that the reliable is no longer so.

Often, this is the point at which one may go into a decline.  Because what has previously given your life meaning is no longer available to you in the same way.  Life has lost the structure you relied upon.  There may be feelings of depression and despair.

Tune in now and ask what transition may be affecting you now.  Where in your body do you feel this?  In a recent workshop on transitions, when asked this question, what came to me was that I was still processing my brother’s death.  It was affecting me more than I had realized.  It had happened so suddenly that my body was still reeling from the shock.  We had had so many plans together.  He was the rock I had always relied upon and now he was no longer there.  In addition, his death left me as the only surviving member of my immediate family.

Reaching inside, I felt an inner trembling, it felt rocky and sharp.  I was filled with grief and loss and without knowing it, my world picture had changed.  I no longer expected the best but feared the worst possible outcome.  I felt so alone.

As our instructor moved us forward, he showed us how this point asks our soul for courage; the courage to move on, to construct new hopeful realities.  To seek an inner calm that can be present in any circumstance.

I invite you to listen to this poem by David Whyte called Sweet Darkness:

“When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong…

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

Anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

Is too small for you.”

I love this poem for in just a few sentences, he begins to bring me into a new place.  He calls me forth to a vision of my greatness; to the place where I can manage to be alone and begin to revision my life.  This phase of transition is called the middle ground, the unknown.  All we have here is the basic core of our own beliefs.  We learn to be comfortable in not-knowing, and strive to deal with the present by being present.  Rather than thinking, thinking, thinking, we begin to feel our feet hit the ground with each step; we eat without distraction and take joy in each bite.  We count our blessings and let spirit begin to lead us into our new life.

Thich Nhat Hanh calls us to this moment:

Our true home is in the present moment.
To live in the present moment is a miracle.
The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment,

To appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.
Peace is all around us–
in the world and in nature–
and within us–
in our bodies and our spirits.
Once we learn to touch this peace,
we will be healed and transformed.
It is not a matter of faith;
it is a matter of practice

Along with the soul quality of presence, the middle ground calls us to trust.

Here, we can call upon David Whyte once again:

“Watching the geese
go south I find
I am part
of a great migration
that will take me to another place.

This morning they have
found me,
full of faith,
like a blind child,
nestled in their feathers,
following the great coast of the wind
to a future I cannot see.”

And so slowly, a new future does unfold and we arrive at the new beginning, the new birth.  We have paid our dues.  We have delved into our psyche and found a new north, the direction that will feed us in a way we have never been fed before.  We taste joy on our lips and feel the wind in our hair.  We are ready for the new adventure.  Here, we call on the soul qualities of Belief, Vision and Intention and we know our new moment has arrived.

Once again, David Whyte names this moment for us:

“I awoke
this morning
in the gold light
turning this way
and that

Thinking for
a moment
it was one
like any other.

the veil had gone
from my darkened heart
I thought

It must have been the quiet
that filled my room

It must have been
the first
easy rhythm
with which I breathed
myself to sleep,

It must have been
the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness
of the night.

I thought
this is the good day
you could
meet your love,

This is the black day
someone close
to you could die.

This is the day
you realize
how easily the thread
is broken between this world
and the next.

And I found myself
sitting up
in the quiet pathway
of light,

The tawny
close grained cedar
burning round
me like fire
and all the angels of this housely
heaven ascending

through the first
roof of light
the sun has made.

This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

Emerging through transitions calls on different soul qualities to get us through each chapter of our changing lives.  In the face of endings, we go forward with Courage.  In the middle ground, we call upon Presence and Trust.  As we come through the darkness of the womb of the unknown and enter the birth of something new, we call upon Belief, Vision and Intention.  We now know ourselves in a new way; one that perhaps was not available to us before this journey.

I invite you now to be a friend to silence and come forward, if you are called, to share what transition you are currently in and what qualities you are finding to carry you through, or perhaps what you have learned in previous transitions.  May we be blessed by the ways that spirit comes forth to lead us on.

And so it is.


This message was given to Spokane Friends Meeting by Anya Lawrence on May 19, 2019

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