Last month, I was a presenter and attendee at Journal Conference 2016: Pioneering the Next 30 Years. It was one of those unique magical experiences that comes only from a gathering of like-minded people, sharing with and inspiring one another.
One evening Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea, of Peer Spirit, presented a group of engaged writers with this William Stafford poem.
The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
Then we wrote to these questions –
What is the thread that you hold onto?
What thread doesn’t break?
The one you’ve always been able to hold?
Here are my thoughts and musings from that evening and since I’ve been home.
I’ve picked up a few threads along the way. They’ve woven together over the course of fifty-six years to form one big, beautiful, messy string.
- Love is all there is.
- Without relationships, we have nothing.
- Without our health, we have nothing.
- I am never alone.
- We all need creative pursuits.
- Do the right thing, even when it’s the hard thing.
- Things happen for a reason.
“Things happen for a reason” reaches as far back as I can remember. My awareness of this thread comes up for me, time and again.
I fell for a man who challenges me and has taught me strength. This shy, timid girl met him for a reason.
My Mom and Dad divorced when I was fourteen. It made me evaluate their relationship to learn what I wanted in my own. My relationship with The Consultant is solid for a reason.
I was on my way to visit Dad when Mom took a fall. Sure that Mom was in good hands and after a sob and soul-search on the edge of the highway, I chose to carry on to Dad’s. During my stay, he told me about his life from teens to present. We visited our old house and the hill where I first skied. He showed me a list of everything he wanted family members to have when he passed and talked to me about end-of-life wishes. One week later, I got the call that he’d had a heart attack and a few days after that he died. That visit happened for a reason.
These are just a few examples that come readily to mind. I could go on and on.
It’s a wonderful thread that weaves a great deal of gratitude into the tapestry of life.
Yet, even with all the proof, for some reason, I’ve been resistant to write in pen that “Things Happen for a Reason” is my thread. I kept thinking that there must be one that runs older and deeper.
Thinking, thinking, thinking, it occurred to me – could it be my slowness? As far back as I can remember “slow” has been part of my identity. “Slow as molasses in January,” they’d say. It’s in my DNA. When I try to change by rushing, pretty much anything, I become anxious and stressed.
I’m slow to act, react, contribute, decide, move, and speak out. For me, there is an excessive, yet necessary, amount of thought that has to go into every situation. Making quick decisions makes me feel anxious and creates undo pressure.
Slowness is my friend. It has enhanced my spiritual practice, my journal writing practice. It let’s me honour the quiet as I listen for answers. It gives me the time I need to trust myself. My intuition can’t be rushed.
I’ve learned to accept and nurture slowness. It is my tried and tested method of operating in the world.
Slow is contemplation, reflection, observation, information gathering. It’s given me the depth of thought to discover that things really do happen for reason.
How does slowness translate to my thread?
Slowness as my nature, without apology, allows me to be confident in who I am this world, surer of next steps. It helps me recognize all the enduring threads that I hold onto for strength.
Yesterday I picked up Christina Baldwin’s book, The Seven Whispers: A Spiritual Practice for Times Like These. There on page 8, the second whisper – Move at the pace of guidance.
Yes. I will write “Slowness” in pen. It’s my thread.