Saturday, 21 November 2015

Popping Down the Rabbit Hole

“Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be late,” says the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.

Louis Caroll, author of Alice, explains what this creature is meant to portray: “ 'elderly,' 'timid,' 'feeble,' and 'nervously shilly-shallying,' and you will get something of what I meant him to be ..." (Wikipedia quote). Weak. Quivery. Fearful.

Thanks, Louis, you’ve described me to a T these days.

In the past few weeks, we’ve all been challenged with tragedies and horrors that show the worst aspects of humanity.  Personally, that’s left me feeling wrung out – “What to do, what to think?” I worry and fuss, as I wring my hands nervously. My friends ask the same questions I’m asking: Why? How did this come to be? How do I respond? We share our anxiety, but no answers are forthcoming.  I read vitriolic facebook posts, and am afraid to say the wrong thing, so they come out more like “vaguebook.” Or perhaps I just shut those “friends” down: too much, too much, I don’t want to deal with this, I think.

I’m with you, rabbit: I think I’ll just pop down into the fantasy world of your rabbit hole and have myself a warm and soothing cup of tea and some buttered crumpets. After that I’ll take a nap, and perhaps when I wake up the world will be alright.

Yes, and the queen wears spandex yoga pants. Not likely.

Hiding is not a good thing, is it? Well, no, but also, well, yes.

As I’m reflecting on my anxieties, a Facebook friend shares a post written by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. She says that, distressed by all that’s happened, she’s done what she can – writing letters to her Member of Parliament, giving money to charitable organizations that support immigrants, looking for ways to give hands-on help if and when refugees arrive, and praying for all who are hurt, grieving, homeless, frightened and feeling paralyzed.

“But there is something else I can do,” she says. “I can recognize that after five days of reading too many opinions that make no sense to me (and arguing with them in my head) I need to give myself the silence and stillness and centering that grounds me in this moment, so I can see with clear eyes and follow the wisdom of the heart. Some of what I have read makes my heart ache and makes me fearful for our world.

Being grounded in Presence is the way I know to listen and act from a place of heart wisdom - but, when there is a lot of fear flying around it can take a little silence and stillness to make myself available to that Presence.”

Do what you can ... but don’t forget to listen. There are answers meant just for you if you will take the time to be open and hear them.

We all have our own way of listening, of popping down the rabbit hole for a while, retreating from the world as we know it so we can become grounded in the presence of the Divine.  Some  might take a silent retreat in a monastery, while others serve soup in the soup kitchen, offering deep love with each ladle of broth, looking into each face and seeing Christ there. Long walks, journaling, sitting in silence, prayer, enlightening ourselves through books and study –  a host of spiritual disciplines can help us listen.  The resident sweetie has been cleaning up his mason bee hives and finds that the cleaning and sorting of 2,000 cocoons is a meditative activity that frees his mind from anxieties and worries. Who knew that sorting bees could be a spiritual discipline?

My way, I find, is to create beauty as I “work, listening.” I am in my studio this weekend, as much as possible, to do that: write and create art. From experience I know that has been the best way to be open and listening, to eventually see my way clear to a new direction.

"I read in a book that a man called Christ went about doing good. It distresses me that I am so easily satisfied with just going about," writes author Toyohiko Kagawa.

Yes, me too – but I also know that before I go about doing good, I will have to quiet down. And listen.  And fill this world with beauty.