Friday, November 16, 2012

On the Bridge, the Spiritual Practice of Transitions a post by Nancy L. Agneberg

    I am frequently aware of being in the midst of transition, and that interests me and becomes an opening for examination of both my inner life, as well as what is swirling around me in my outer life. 
   Fall into Winter
   This morning I noticed evidence of transitions as I walked through the neighborhood. Mainly, the transition between fall and winter, between Halloween and Christmas. Pumpkins, some almost melting in on themselves thanks to frosty nights, along with pots of mums, browning and losing an intensity of color still dominate the scene, but at the same time Christmas decorations are beginning to appear. Greens in window boxes. Lights on trees. Even an artificial Christmas tree on a front porch where pumpkins still march up the stairs. We know we are not quite done with one season, but still there is the temptation and inclination to move into the next season. We treasure and exalt Thanksgiving as a holiday that demands little of us except turkey and mashed potatoes and offers us a chance to express gratitude for our many blessings, but at the same time time, we feel the urgency of Christmas looming ahead in a countdown of shopping days. I say this not to pass judgment or to plead for simplicity and sanity. Instead, I think about the movement in our lives.
     A Transition of the Heart
     Earlier this week my husband needed a heart catheterization in order to determine if the symptoms he was experiencing were the result of blockage and damage to the heart. The good news is that no stent or bypass is needed, but instead drug therapy is proscribed, along with some life style changes that will be good for both of us. The day in the hospital awaiting the procedure was long, but we both remained calm and patient. Bruce rested, and I gazed out the window with its soothing view of Lake Monona over the bare treetops.  Time to breathe and time to be. 
      Later I thought about how my diagnosis of uterine cancer 10 years ago when I was 54 felt like an experience out of time.  Not in the rightful order of things. I felt too young for that to happen. A totally unrealistic assumption, of course. Now we are 64, and as we face this wake up call, it feels as if we are taking a major step into the next stage of our life.  We can't dismiss the possibility of physical issues beyond the norm of colds and flu. Dear friends face cancer or recover from surgeries of various kinds. We are getting older. We are in transition. 
     Bridge Work
     When I meditated the other day, a word arrived in my heart. Bridge. That is how this time feels. We are on a bridge. At times the bridge seems to sway in a strong wind and at times I lose sight of where I have come from, and the way ahead is not very clear, but I don't feel threatened by that. Instead, I am aware of the importance to take every step, to stop and pause often. To breathe and to be. 
     The morning of the heart cath I spent my meditation time with   the new book, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, Staying Close to What is Sacred, by one of my spiritual guides, Mark Nepo and was given a gift of two words: unplanned unfoldings. This is how transition feels to me. Nepo says, "The larger intention is to stay in relationship with everything that comes along, at least long enough to taste what is living." As I become aware of where I am on the bridge, I pray I accept the invitation of unplanned unfoldings to live fully with love, instead of fear. 
NOTE: As I have been writing this post I have observed a hawk on a nearby tree. As I entered the last word, he flew away. I am grateful for his watchful presence.


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