The combination of this squash and the Mexican bobblehead critter has been a source of delight this past week or two. I picked up the squash at the Farmers' market, intending to cook it up, and that's still the plan, but first it served as Thanksgiving day decoration, and then the little armadillo, or whatever it is, seemed to belong on top of it, gently dipping its head and bobbing its little orange ears whenever someone blows on it.
And the other photos, taken in the past couple of months, seem to go with this burnt orange theme.
Palmer's seasonal metaphor for the inner journey flows from the new beginnings of scattered fall seeds, to winter dormancy, to the spring flowering of paradox, and so comes to summer's abundance.
Summer is the season of abundance and first harvest. Having traced the seed of true self on its arduous journey from birth, through death and dormancy, into flowering, we can look at the abundance that has grown up within us and ask, “Whom is this meant to feed? Where am I called to give my gifts?” A Hidden Wholeness, p 83
Palmer cautions that the idealists among us ask these questions prematurely -- wanting to serve the world's needs, but burning out trying to do more than we are able. We need first to understand our true self -- the seeds planted in us, the deaths and dormancy, the new life, the fruit. To understand the true self, we need the interior intimacy that comes with solitude and we need the giving and taking, the listening and speaking, the being and doing that comes with community.
I cannot give what I do not possess, so I need to know what gifts have grown up within me that are now ready to be harvested and shared. If the gifts I give are mine, grown from the seed of true self, I can give them without burning out. Like the fruit of a tree, they will replenish themselves in due season. A Hidden Wholeness, p 83
Abundance and harvest -- and then again the scattering of seeds, times of dormancy and paradox, and new growth. The seasons cycle, again and again. In his Circles of Trust, Palmer works with this seasonal metaphor representing a lifetime; his writing reveals the cycles of seasons occurring again and again in his own life.
I shared this seasonal metaphor with a group of friends recently, and one exclaimed, with a sudden shock of recognition, "I'm out of season!" In her current seasonal cycle, she had assumed she was moving into a summertime of abundance and harvest, and instead found herself in an unexpected wintry dormancy, with glimmers of spring paradox.
Outside my window, northern Indiana is moving into winter dormancy. In my interior world, I am living into a variety of spring paradoxes. What season are you in?
Palmer continues his seasonal metaphor for the inner journey by turning from winter's dormancy to the paradoxes of spring.
Spring is the season of surprise when we realize once again that despite our perennial doubts, winter’s darkness yields to light and winter’s deaths give rise to new life. So one metaphor for spring is “the flowering of paradox.” As spring’s wonders arise from winter’s hardships, we are invited to reflect on the many “both-ands” we must hold to live fully and well – and to become more confident that as creatures embedded in nature, we know in our bones how to hold them.
The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring; these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings. If we refuse to hold them in hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love. But in the spring we are reminded that human nature, like nature herself, can hold opposites together as paradoxes, resulting in a more capacious and generous life.
A Hidden Wholeness, p 82 - 3
Above, a dead and decaying log -- filled with moss, lichen and tiny mushrooms. The close-up is below.
One seasonal metaphor for our life's journey begins with a childhood springtime, blossoms into youthful summer, transitions into a midlife autumnal harvest, and slowly fades into the wintry chill of old age.A lot of us find the journey more complicated than that, and that's another reason Parker Palmer's seasonal metaphor in A Hidden Wholeness caught my eye. He begins the cycle with fall as a time of new beginnings and the scattering of seeds -- very appropriate for someone working with educators! But then comes winter.
The seeds of possibility planted with such hope in the fall must eventually endure winter, when the potentials we carried at birth appear to be dead and gone. As we look out upon the winter landscape of our lives, it seems clear that whatever was seeded in the fall is now buried deep in the snow, frozen over and winter killed. Many demoralized people recognize this “dead of winter” metaphor as an all-too-apt description of their bleak inner lives.
Hidden Wholeness, p.82
At some point in our journey, we encounter winter. Unexpected losses, disillusionment, discouragement, depression, anxiety, additctions...it can take many forms, and it can come more than once, leaving us feeling frozen and fenced in. Palmer himself came through a time of deep clinical depression, and knows that wintry feel well.
Yet when we understand winter in the natural world, we realize that what we see out there is not death so much as dormancy. Some life has died, of course. But much of it has gone underground, into hibernation, awaiting a season of renewal and rebirth. So winter invites us to name whatever feels dead in us, to wonder whether it might in fact be dormant – and to ask how we can help it, and ourselves, “winter through.” Hidden Wholeness, p 82.
(And just in case anyone is wondering, these photos are from last winter. There a a few small flakes flying as I write this, but full-fledged winter has not yet arrived in northern Indiana.)
These past few weeks I've been fascinated by the variety of seed shapes and seed carriers I've found in the prairie plantings on campus.
Perhaps that's why my attention was caught by Parker Palmer's seasonal metaphor in A Hidden Wholeness, his book about his work with circles of trust. Usually when I think of new beginnings and seeds, I think of spring. But Palmer begins with fall when he develops a seasonal cycle as a metaphor for what happens in the inner journey of discovery.
"We often start our groups in the fall, a time when work begins again for many people, following a summer break--and nature begins her work again by dropping and scattering seeds. In this season of new beginnings, a circle of trust might inquire into the 'seed of true self.' What seed was planted when you or I arrived on earth with our identities intact? How can we recall and reclaim those birthright gifts and potentials?" p. 81
Here's a few photos of seeds about to be dropped and scattered, for you to muse on as you ponder your own seeds and new beginnings.
Our frosty mornings continue, followed by sunny days -- is this really November? There's that brief period after the sun is up but before it has really warmed up when I find leaves covered with crystals and outlined by light. It's providing me with a rare opportunity to use the phrase "rimmed with rime" to describe this series of leaf photos.
More photos from Sunday's visit to the Calendar Garden. My eye was caught by the lines of leaves and branches.
I can hear the wind blowing outside my window, and they tell us rain and possibly snow are on the way, with the temperatures dropping from a high of 70 today to expected highs in the 40's this week.
So a couple of us went down to the Calendar Garden this afternoon, seizing the chance to enjoy sunshine and warmth before winter arrives, and to see what we could see. We found familiar faces of other friends who had the same bright idea, and a not-so-familiar face in the corner of the greenhouse. I'm not sure I'd look so stoical if I had cactus growing in the top of my head.
Gulls floated silently overhead, hardly stirring their wings as the wind blew them on by. In the center pond, I saw a few minnows, a tiny goldfish, and a copper dragonfly, but the only frogs out soaking up the sun were as stoical as the cactus-haired damsel, with a stony look on their faces. Still, the sky was blue, with wispy white clouds and the afternoon sunlight streamed across the gardens, highlighting succulents, colorful leaves, and dried plants, and we sat and enjoyed it all.
November is busy with a palette of browns and grays and greens, and occasional notes of glorious crimson. I'm feeling chilly today, and so I am wrapping up in a ruddy afghan and taking comfort in some of November's crimson and scarlet moments.
We've been waking to below freezing temperatures this week, though the frost has done its best to sugarcoat it all. Early morning sunlight on frosted plants makes for a light -filled walk and lots of exclamations.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"