A hand to hold

The other day I mentioned something about the big-leaf maples that turned color last week.  And though we have none of these trees in our yard (all we have is dune grass), one of the leaves from the tree across the lagoon from us floated up on our beach yesterday, so I thought I'd show those of you who do not hail from the left coast what I mean by big-leaf maple... and, yes, the stem of this one extends to my elbow -- and I am NOT a small woman.

That I would write about this tree and that her leaf would wash up on my beach the next day is not really such a huge coincidence.  But somehow, for me, it serves as a gentle reminder of the constancy of Divine Presence.  Which brings me to this morning's quotation from Cynthia Bourgeault's book, Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God

"Mercy is always with us; it is the ground and wellspring of our being.  But unless we can connect with it, we miss the whole show -- and we do not really understand the "good news" that our gospel is founded upon.  It is possible to be swimming in a sea of mercy and still experience ourselves as stranded on shore.  This distorted perception is what meditation is intended to fix."

Living by the water as I do, this metaphor seems particularly apt -- and a lovely description of how I've been feeling lately; i.e., stranded on the shore.  So for this leaf to wash up has been helpful, and -- oddly enough -- it indirectly led me to Cynthia's post on her blog about the Fall Triduum.  Her post is definitely worth a read, and helps me to understand that the shadow space into which I've fallen lately, though it results initally from the recent series of deaths in my circle of acquaintance, is actually a natural response to the shifting seasons. Here's a tiny piece of her post to whet your appetite:

"In the quiet, brown time of the year, these fall Triduum days are an invitation to do the profound inner work: to face our shadows and deep fears (death being for most people the scariest of all), to taste that in ourselves which already lies beyond death, drink at its fountain, then to move back into our lives again, both humbled and steadied in that which lies beyond both light and dark, beyond both life and death.  What better tilling of the inner soil for the mystery of the Incarnation, which lies just ahead?"

And so, having read her words, I went again into meditation -- which hasn't been providing much solace lately -- but this time I carried with me the mercy of acceptance; that the shadows which have been coming to the fore of late are normal and natural, and not some failure on my part.  And with that sense of mercy -- and this leaf -- comes the trust that despite this stranded feeling I am not alone on the journey.  Thank you, Cynthia, for giving me a hand to hold.


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