I was struck this week with the utter profoundness of my own consciousness. I saw myself as atoms and energy organised as complex forms. In this form I felt that I was the universe looking back at itself. I was in a constant state of flow, collecting, holding and then returning myself to the earth. Breathe in- Oxygen, complex sugars, DNA, proteins, skin, organs, nerves – breath out -carbon dioxide, uric acid, manure. All atoms and energy returned to the earth, now the trees, the animals and the ocean share me.
Who am I in this constant flux and flow? Life expressing and observing itself, consciousness expressed as human? What remains in this constant cycle of life, death and resurrection? Every seven years my body is completely new. At 44, am I the same being I was when I took my first breath? This body is not the same, every atom is different, even my mind is different, what essential aspect remains for me to claim as myself?
At 44, am I the same being I was when I took my first breath?
Life is in a constant flux and yet we resist it with such a rigid inflexibility. Jesus told us the parable of the wheat seed, “unless a grain of wheat goes into the ground and dies it cannot bear much fruit”. And again, “whoever would gain his life he must first lose it, but who ever would keep his life he has already lost it”. In contrast to this, Western culture has taught me to collect material objects, guard my life against possible change, to add and add to myself, to consume and store. Letting go is seen as loss, change as grief. We feel that we are lessened when we give up some of the matter and energy, we have accrued around ourselves.
I have been enjoying a Netflix series called Consumed where a psychologist helps families throw out all the things they have collected over the years and haven’t been able to get rid of. These families have hoarded so many things over the years that they find themselves completely unable to function. Is it possible that our hearts and minds can suffer the same type of mental hoarding?
Recently I have become more and more aware of how cut off I am from the obvious truths of nature- life leads to death and the death leads to resurrection of new life. The tree falls and opens space for a new expression of life. In giving myself over to this process of death, I too allow new life in myself and those around me. When I look at what I am rigidly holding onto- where I am resisting death- I see that in those places of resisting death I have created a sepulture to past joys and pleasures.
If I desire to truly live, I must learn to pass through death into new life.
As we age, the temptation to glorify the past and resist the future become more and more tempting. When I observe this tendency to cling to the past, I can see that vibrancy and true life is snuffed out under that smothering veil of sentimentality. If I desire to truly live, I must learn to pass through death into new life. Letting go of what was, whether good or bad, and allowing myself to be reformed into a new creation.
Each and every season and cycle is the song of nature’s call, Summer/winter, night/day, birth/death, these cycles and seasons call us to a much greater, more beautiful dance. Life is constantly moving; its spirit is always being renewed and we as humans are of that same spirit. I think natures cycles teach us to rejoice in change and meet death with a hope of new life. I think that if we resist this pattern we will suffer the fate of a living death. By this I mean that as we resist new life and cling to old memories, we will slowly lose the vitality that is only available in the present moment. The Sufi poet Rumi said, “we must die before we die”, by this I think he meant we must learn the skill of allowing death so that we can then allow new life to bloom with in us.
the process of letting go in grief, is the process of taking up new life in hope
As uncomfortable as it may sound, the process of letting go in grief, is the process of taking up new life in hope. Hope is the call of nature and God. In hope we find the strength and faith to let go of the old, because you know deep in your hearts that through death there is always hope of new life. Life is a cycle of death and resurrection, resist it and you will lose true life, embrace it and you will allow a river of vitality and new life into your life and the world around you.
What are you clinging to right now? I would encourage you let it go in the hope that new life will spring up in its place.
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