Now and then I stumble upon a poem or a quote that reaches out and grabs my heart. Perhaps it’s something I wish I wrote myself, but more likely it’s what I needed to hear or something I yearned to have expressed in just this way. Today, it was this poem by John O’Donohue.
For A New Beginning
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
-fromTo Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings
(Copyright © John O’Donohue. All rights reserved)
As I officially “launch” this blog–a move that feels huge to me and yet may be imperceptible to the outside world, I step out and reclaim a piece of myself that has been unattended for a long time. It is truly an opening of sorts–an unfurling, and a beginning–undertaken without knowing exactly where it will lead. As Julia Cameron wrote, “All of it begins at the beginning, with the first small and scary step.”
I never thought I would have to begin again. “I’ve already done that,” the child inside me protested! For years I had written about my struggles and the insights gained through the challenges of my experience with chronic illness. I even thought I had found my calling in helping others on a similar journey. It seemed to all make sense–I could find meaning and purpose in the challenges I had overcome, the lessons I had learned. And then…
Life intervened, reminding me that the path was never a straight line. I discovered that the illness that changed my life so drastically was not the most difficult challenge I would face. For a time, I seemed to lose my way. I questioned what I thought I knew. I lost track of the identity and passion that I had embraced with such relief and profound sense of clarity. As much as I wanted my life story to have an arc that I could understand–a beginning, a middle, and an end–I have come to realize (again and again!) that life doesn’t work that way. What I’ve learned is that the greatest strength we can bring to any adversity that befalls us is the willingness to begin again. We can listen to the still small voice and the unattended dreams that live inside our hearts. We can muster the courage to take one step toward letting a new self emerge.
What is the beginning that is “quietly forming” in your heart?