The “growing edge”

Happy 2017, Gray Bird readers! So glad to be starting another year in your company.

Recently, Parker Palmer, whose writings and life work I admire very much, posted this quote on his Facebook page [Side note: I’ve referenced my carefully-curated Facebook feed here before. I limit it to things that shift my attention in a constructive direction, offer minimally biased information, and leave me feeling more engaged and hopeful. It’s a work in progress.]: 

Look well to the growing edge! All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of the child — life’s most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge!

— Civil Rights theologian Howard Thurman

The growing edge. It’s absolutely front and center in our home right now. We’re digging deep to find energy to clean the bathroom one more time for guests, or to make food for a crowd when it’s hard enough to cook food for our own table at the moment. The extra breath from the exhausted lung. Yes. We are acutely aware of the stark challenges of sleep deprivation, winter illnesses and gray days, but we are also gifted with the presence of new life in our home. A new life with twinkly blue eyes, endless smiles for her mama and daddy, and killer raspberry-blowing technique. She’s life’s most dramatic answer to death (and winter bleakness, and loss, and lack of energy).

I try to keep an ear to the ground, listening to those roots silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Even as the January weather preaches depletion and grayness, even as I slip-slide over the icy sidewalks and wake from another night of not-enough-sleep, the roots are deepening. Even as people tear one another down for their political or social beliefs in what feels dangerously close to end-of-civility as we know it, we can look to the growing edge. There is new life and hidden strength and potential for lush abundance.

Had you asked me a year ago whether I’d be able to function as a mom, wife, therapist, yoga teacher, daughter/daughter-in-law, sister, friend, and human being on fewer than five hours of sleep a night, I’d have laughed long and hard. I’m a 9-hours-a-night gal, and always have been. I was the cranky college kid yelling at my roommates to keep it down when they were up past 11 in the dorm. Basically, I was born 80 years old. I thrive on sleep, quiet, fresh air, and plenty of time for reading and making with my hands.

Ask me how much of any of those things I’ve had in the past ten months. Hint: very little. It’s just the nature of my world right now. A natural result of parenting an infant. While it’s hard for me, for sure, it’s also stretching me in ways I’ve never stretched before. It’s forcing me deeper, requiring an ever-present and intense focus on the growing edge and those silent roots.

I find myself looking for the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. Sometimes it’s the sun peeking through the winter gray clouds. Sometimes it’s the sweet smile of my favorite baby face and imagining the fun we’ll have when the weather warms and she feels grass or goes swimming for the first time. Sometimes it’s reading a lucid, thoughtful call-to-action article amidst the chaotic political ramblings circulating the internet. There’s no denying (regardless of your leanings) that in our political world, times are out of joint and men [and women] have lost their reason. It’s a giant storm of passionate intensity out there, ready to sweep you up in one forceful gust if you don’t trust in those silent-growing roots.

I hope your holidays were one hundred percent restorative and lovely, and that you enter 2017 in a state of well-rested, hopeful joy. If not, though – if you’re feeling weariness close in – know that many others are feeling the immensity of life’s challenges. Let’s keep focused on the growing edge.

If you’d like to try yoga, either on your own or with a group, feel free to contact me. Even the simplest, most modest practice of moving the body and relaxing into the breath can be pivotal in creating fertile ground for hope and joy.

Here’s to 2017, and to trust in the ever-growing roots beneath the January ice!

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