Right now my environment is in chaos! We are getting ready to have our living room and bedroom re-carpeted. We have odd furniture in the kitchen and other rooms, and the room that was set up as quiet space is filled with years of clutter from sentimental accumulation. I miss this room. I feel it’s absence because I had gotten used to the aroma of the scented candle and the routine of entry into that quiet space with it’s slanted ceiling. There are things that I can’t find right now because the usual place has been misplaced. But, Lord willing, this chaos is not forever. I will bring order, a new order with fewer possessions, by the end of the month, after the new carpet is laid.
Outside the leaves are changing color. It is cooler and the wind has begun to pull the leaves from the branches of our hackberry tree. It is here, in this environment that I sit in silence, listening to the wind and the migrating birds. Giving peanuts to my neighborhood squirrels, who have gotten used to me. I seldom see my neighbors, even though the fences are low. It seems we have become an indoor society, venturing out only to deposit our garbage in bins or to mow. So if I walk the neighboring blocks, where the houses have numbers, but the people inside have names, I will seldom if ever encounter any of them. But, my backyard, with it’s blooming mums and nasturtiums, is a place, an environment that holds a peace in this changing season. It welcomes me when I accept the invitation with its aroma of autumn.
In some ways, my interior environment seems to be a reflection of the environment I live in. A mirror of sorts, or maybe the source? My interior is both a place of chaos and a place of changing color. I find myself sorting through an accumulation of interior sentiments. Anger as I walk through the election process and read about racial injustice. I feel the frustration of being held in isolation. I am sad, angry, frustrated… right along side my feelings of delight and enchantment… at seeing pictures of grandchildren, or feeling satisfied in the deep discussions with family and friends. But I’ve also lost inner places or things that have grounded me in the past, things like scripture, or journaling, and centering. For those seemed to require a place that is lost in the chaos of carpet. I find that it is in my outdoor environment, my natural environment where I find a place that my mind isn’t circling and cycling from one thing to the next. But, where it rests and wonders. Where thoughts of what’s next can take root and maybe grow.
So maybe this quote by Parker Palmer applies. With its background idea of letting go of ego, and instead of being the spotlight, fading into my environment. The acknowledgement of patience…extreme patience, as I give myself to attentiveness and openness to what it next. It seems as though it is not an invitation to fade into and sleep as Rip Van Winkle did, but rather to go quiet, let go of my fears and become awake, fully alert and attuned to the environment.
“The soul is like a wild animal—tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, self-sufficient. It knows how to survive in hard places. But it is also shy. Just like a wild animal, it seeks safety in the dense underbrush. If we want to see a wild animal, we know that the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods yelling for it to come out. But if we will walk quietly into the woods, sit patiently by the base of the tree, and fade into our surroundings, the wild animal we seek might put in an appearance.” -Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life
To continue in the dense underbrush, the frenzy and chaos that is part of my interior and exterior life, will not sustain me. It is a place of safety, not sustenance. So I will go to the place that has opened for me and if I can let go and go quiet with patience, I might hear, see, or experience something wild that becomes the voice of the Sacred for me.