Thoughts On Letting Go of Summer...and other things

The coveted warm and sunny summer days are definitely numbered. Soon the first alpine snowfall will usher in a tapestry of fall color and inevitably, winter will follow. Already, there are numerous signs of change-shorter days, longer nights-bears roaming freely everywhere here in the high country as they scavenge for food in preparation for a long winters nap. I want to cling to summer. I know. You are not supposed to cling to things. Believe me, I have been working on learning how to let go for most of my adult existence (which, incidentally, is now far longer than the rest of my life). I know by heart how it goes. If I cling, I will suffer. It doesn't matter. As I witness the amber glow beginning to highlight the mountain-scape, it just makes me want to cling to the remaining green.

Following a face to face encounter with a bear last week (a common occurrence for humans in Colorado these days) I have been pondering the habits of these hibernating creatures. One good thing about winter, I contemplated encouragingly, is that bears will be asleep and I won't have to wonder when one might be lurking in the shadows (a weak attempt at raising my spirits). Brown bears usually don't bother people unless they are hungry, afraid, or provoked. Regrettably, they are usually one or all three of the above these days. It seems their food provisions in the forest are in short supply and so the fierce hunger burning in their bellies has forced them to invade towns close to their natural habitat. They raid anything and everything in order to fill up for the winter-including houses with stocked kitchens. And if you are in the way-it probably won't be pretty. Fortunately, my bear encounter was unremarkable. He happened to cross my path while I was hiking in the woods. When he sensed I had nothing to offer in the way of food, he took his leave and nonchalantly walked off. Even so, I was more than a little rattled by the event. Some think it is really cool to have a bear encounter. Not me. I prefer way smaller things in nature to cozy up close and personal with-like a chipmunk or rabbit or something.

But I digress. Let's revisit the whole hibernation thing. Isn't it sort of amazing that bears just go into a cave and sleep the winter away? I mean have you ever stopped to think about how fascinating this process is? They snooze for months on end without food or water-relying on the stash in their stomachs, which they accumulated before hitting the grotto. Bear enters her dream-cave, enjoys an extended rest, avoids winter altogether, and wakes up just in time for the magic of spring. Pretty clever, don't you think? When blankets of snow cover the northern regions of the earth, bear descends into a deep, satisfying slumber that carries her off into a world where pain and suffering are non-existent. All she has to do is endlessly doze and dream. "Not a bad life," I mused.

Just as bears winter plans seemed more and more enviable, I was jolted back into reality while having my second beastly meeting in a week. As I headed for town I noticed some unusual commotion. Upon investigating the scene I spotted a hefty bruin, engaged in his own form of clinging. He was perched on a tree branch that looked like it could give way at any moment-so much for his version of safety. Apparently, this creature had been roosted there since dawn, afraid to come down due to all the chaos he had created below. Some took pictures, others stared or gawked in fascination, and a few (like me) scurried away. Police swarmed the area. Apparently this bear had already been "marked" a trouble-maker which means his days are numbered. Last week one was put down following an attack on a woman who interrupted his raid of her refrigerator. Yikes. Okay, I get the message. I am grateful to be human. Forget hibernating. I will dig deep and explore my resistance to letting go-yet another time.

These are interesting times. Each and every one of us (including the bears) will likely continue to be effected by all of the rapid changes occurring on our planet, both on a personal and global level. The temptation to flee through various means-be it sleep, denial, avoidance, or clinging (all fear based behaviors)-can lurk and linger, in the lower corners of our minds. This "old brain" of ours will entice us to seek an escape hatch rather than dealing with whatever might be in front of us. If we were part of the less developed species (like the bear), we would be completely driven by such urges-resistant to change, ducking danger at any cost, while clinging to what we know for fear of what's ahead. When hanging on to the no-end spin of the gerbil wheel, any type of change can feel threatening. Living in a state of constant insufficiency, and lack causes us to hoard, see ourselves as separate from others, and function from fear instead of loving kindness.

In operating merely from an impulse to survive without the benefit of an expanded consciousness, the prospect of change, whatever it is, can trigger our deepest dread. Of course, we are primates too-and so continue to be influenced by the part of our head, which functions from mere instinct. Only here is the good news. We have a more sophisticated anatomy and expanded awareness than other primates. Our cerebral capacities combined with an awakened consciousness can fully support us in avoiding the dramatic negative, should something wild and wooly come across our path-either real, or metaphorical. All we have to do is assimilate the data (such as, I am standing face to face with a bear) with the Divine equipment that has been so masterfully supplied on our behalf to deal with the situation. If we resist the urge to cut and run (flight), or move in an attempt to fight it off-we create an opening to hear the subtle, conscious whispers of Creation-offering a more balanced way of dealing with things.

Gustov Thibon, the famed German poet says it magically in this unforgettable poem:

"Beware of mirages. Do not run or fly away in order to get free. Rather dig in the narrow place within you. You will find God there and everything. God does not float on your horizon, S/He sleeps in your substance. Vanity runs, love digs. If you run, your prison will run with you and close in because of the wind of your flight. If you go down deep into yourself, you will disappear in paradise."

Now I realize that coming face to face with a "bear," however this creature may manifest in your life, could exacerbate your deepest fears-reducing you to a state of feeling helpless, alone, and afraid. You could listen to your primal past, which screams at you to scram (certainly the loudest voice I heard when facing a massive beast in the forest). If you are willing to pause before acting on this advice from the ancient, primal messenger-you allow an opening for the voice of Creation to whisper another more reasonable approach. Good thing "something" told me to listen at the time of my bear encounter. Fleeing or fighting would definitely not have been the way to go. In digging a bit deeper into my own "narrow space," a more peaceful solution became silently audible-"calm down, breathe, and let him pass." It worked. The bear walked away, and so did I-completely unharmed.

The path to conscious awareness is indeed a warrior's journey. And if the warrior is true to her discipline, she will focus on inner strength rather than caving in to the voice of fear. She will leap from her safety net, welcoming change, willing to engage in whatever work must be done in order to transcend her primal ways. If she wants to cling to summer, she will allow herself a moment to linger with her longing (maybe even exploring it a little), and then move to strengthening her faith in the future, as she trusts the possibility that some hidden delight awaits in winter's womb.

Regardless of its benefits, the warrior's journey is not without challenge. It can be accompanied by doubt, delusions, and even resentment. In the beginning, you believe you need a suit of steel for protection and safety. Until slowly, steadily you begin to realize that this armored suit of yours is covering the very heart you need to expose (both to yourself and to the world) in order to "get free." As you allow your vulnerability to emerge, "digging deep into that narrow space within" you become more and more awake to who you really are-and that bear in the woods, however he may appear in your world, is the "gift" that has put you in touch with that possibility. In daring to stay-even for a blink longer than you think you can-with whatever is there-you are trusting in God's promise of deliverance-to heal you once and for all. And it is then that you witness the miraculous result of non-resistance - of letting go - of surrendering to the Divine.

The Life Force is constantly supporting your development. It steadily seeks creative ways to work specifically with the unique spirit that has incarnated in this life form as you. It will synchronize all possibilities in magical ways so that every person, place, event, and situation is organized on your most optimal behalf (including the bear in the woods). And what is your part? To awaken to what is in front of you so that you can be available to receive the gift.

"God (Creator, Universal Divine, etc.) ... Please help me see, not through the eyes of fear, but rather as You see. Help me see with equal love for myself and all others." When you say this prayer, expect a miracle, though in so doing, you must be willing to accept it." ~ Paul Ferrani Love Without Conditions.

Now. Get ready for a miracle. You deserve one, don't you?

Happy harvest moon to you!

Love,

Luann