Sunday, July 09, 2017

Brambles and Webs...

Once, when I was very young, I wandered into a blackberry bramble.  As soon as I felt the needle pricks through the fabric of my pants, I panicked.  I tried to free myself.  But the more I struggled, the more I got tangled.  The more I jerked towards freedom, the deeper the scratches.  Like a butterfly in a spiderweb, fighting only made it worse.

I wish that I could say that I had a moment of clarity and that I relaxed and surrendered to the moment, slowly unwinding from my thorny captors.  But, it didn't quite play out like that.  My father heard my screams and sobs, and in a flurry of curses and adult stature, he swooped me up and rescued me.  I was free, but it cost.  My pants were ripped and my legs were crisscrossed with ruby lines.  The scars are only memories now, long since faded.

Life is a little like that sometimes.

Tempted by a berry, we can stumble into a thicket.  We can become trapped in the needling fray.  Our wings can get stuck, rendering us incapable of flight.  I find that the solutions are the same as when I was young... find the peace inside myself or surrender to a Higher Power, something bigger than myself.

The question then becomes... what is peace?  I often times hear people use the word, "peace" as though it were an otherworldly state of extreme serenity, devoid of all conflict or inconsistencies.  If this is what peace is, I've never known it.  The world around us, the greatest teacher, has never known this perfect purity.  The world... life... it is raked across with imperfections, deviations, and irregularities.  Even the most tranquil vignette is marked with the song of birds, the sound and feel of wind in the grass, and the sometimes subtle and sometimes savage cycle of birth and death.  Life is a riot of colors and sensations.  Does this mean that "peace" does not exist?  No. Rather, peace is a verb, not a noun.  Peace is a mindset to tolerate, to compensate, to surrender, to allow, to maintain, to be compassionate.  Peace is the action of finding stillness and holding on to it.  Found deep within, peace is a way to look outside yourself and the moment.

In this sense, discovering peace and surrendering to a Higher Power, are not so different things.  Both require a measure of faith, an act of believing.  This isn't about theology.  It could be.  And maybe it is for some.  But this is about being apart of something bigger.  Even the spiderweb is a collection of silk threads, strong and purposeful.  It is created by design.

We can go through life avoiding the brambles.  We can walk a path, running away from possible dangers and avoiding hurt.  But the berry will be plucked by another who is less fearful.  The brambles are still there, teaching their lessons to those who will listen.  Life is still unpredictable and chaotic.  The spider will still weave its web.  We can endeavor to exist safe in homogeny or surrender to the wild, conquering our fears and championing what ignites our hearts, and find a path through the thicket... unscratched as possible, or at the very least, alive to tell the tale crisscrossed by memories, but no less beautiful.


Heather Powers said...

Beautifully written and a great reminder for someone like me who usually panics in the thickets. It reminds me to find some moments of peace in my daily chaos. I love mindfulness practices but often forget to take the time when life gets overwhelming.

Margot Potter said...

Absolute perfection, thank you.

Ann Schroeder said...

Thanks for this post. I'm working on these concepts myself right now. It's helpful to read your clear thoughts on it.