This week I’ve been away at Living From the Heart. Here is a post I wrote two years ago when I was co-facilitating this course for the first time.
Five tight buds, glossy purple lollipops, greeted me as I passed them on my way to morning prayers. Many flowers that I recognized were blooming at Twin Creeks Lodge–iris, geraniums, petunias, pansies, and daisies–but I had never seen buds like these before. By mid-morning, one had opened up to the sun. “It’s a strawflower,” someone told me.
Next morning there were five buds again. Had I been seeing things? Where was the flower? Before noon the blossom reappeared: it closed at night and opened in the day!
Every time I passed the straw flowers during Living from the Heart, I looked to see what they were doing. They, in turn, looked at me and asked, “Are you open or closed?”
In the week-long intensive I co-facilitate with Deb Arndt and Jeff Imbach, we introduced ancient prayer practices and explored contemplative living. We had the privilege of watching the participants open to God and to one another. Our job was to help them recognize the Real Teacher in their lives.
It sounds easier than it is. At times, I was as tight as a bud, anxious that I might say or do something that would inhibit God’s work. The strawflower invited me to relax and open myself to the light. So did morning and evening prayers, the silent times of reflection, and the gathering of this little community as we ate, shared and laughed together. Even the rhythm of my breath–full, then empty, then full again–encouraged me to trust that God was recreating us.
By the end of our time together, spring had ended and summer arrived. The strawflower no longer needed to retreat at night. I long for the day when I will remain open to God and bask in Love’s warmth. But for now, I sense, it’s enough to listen to the flowers.
“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me
and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
— Matthew 11:29-30 (MSG)
I want to honour the participants of SoulStream’s Living from the Heart course. It’s not easy to live from the core of who we are. Do we even know who we are? And can we trust that God is there, actively loving and leading us? As poet Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes, “It is a difficult lesson to learn today, to leave one’s friends and family and deliberately practise the art of solitude for an hour or a day or a week. . .” But what they’ve gained from their time away has led them into much love mischief for the world.