Musings from the Well...
Copyright © 2019 Catharine Mitchell. All rights reserved.
And she glides gracefully, loving all around her.
Through that love, from her unguarded heart
She lays a silken cord upon the earth, outlining
A place of possibility, a dimension bounded only
By the willingness to surrender to gentleness.
From this, a blossom grows, with a fragrance sweeter
Than galaxies. This love sings down empty passageways,
And sheds one iridescent crystal tear for those
Too afraid to open to her Presence.
She seems to swim in shadows, only because
All of her light is turned inward to this place of
Creation. Some will never understand this.
But she did not come here to be understood. Only
To live and love, and hold the space, that
Precious sanctuary, for the becoming of others.
This is no sacrifice. This is sacred duty.
And the joy of it is both sweeter and deeper
Than earthly love. There is no suffering when there is
The above poem was inspired by the ancient Celtic season of Imbolc, which begins February 1 (or more correctly, at sunset on January 31) and runs until the end of April. Imbolc brings with it the promise of spring. Though winter still has us in its grip, there is a seed buried deeply within which is being held and nourished and protected. The Celtic deity most closely linked with Imbolc is Brighid, often symbolized by the swan. She was associated with many areas of Celtic life, in particular creative metalwork, dairy production, poetry, and childbirth. As is often the case, Christianity absorbed these traditions, assigning the festival of Candlemas to February 2, and giving Brighid continuing incarnation as St. Brigid, patron saint of, among other things, blacksmiths and midwives.
The four seasons of the Celtic year fall at the midway points between the solstices and equinoxes of the solar year. I find that the Celtic seasons provide a helpful metaphor for how spiritual deepening works. There are seasons when our energy is directed outward, when we take what we have created out into the world, sharing it with others. But there are other times when our movement is inward, and we become more reflective, gleaning wisdom from our experiences. We ponder what we will keep (cradling the kernels within) and what we will release. These seeds need a period of gestation before we are ready to, once again, turn our gaze outward.
This time of gestation, the allowing of a slow ripening within, can be very difficult. It's so hard to be patient, especially when it hurts. A common metaphor in the spiritual direction field is that of the spiritual guide as midwife. A midwife knows the process of gestation intimately. She guides the mother-to-be through the various stages of pregnancy, helping with basic information (such as nutrition and body changes) and sitting with the her through the joys and pains of pregnancy. The midwife does not contain this life; the mother does. The midwife's task is to hold compassionate space for the mother as she participates in this sacred birthing of new life. A spiritual guide has a parallel role - the journey taken within a session is not her journey; it is the seeker's. The guide's role is to hold a safe space within which this journey unfolds, and where the seeds which the seeker has planted can be either protected and nourished, or released. It is an honour to be part of this process. Blessings as Imbolc begins!