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?
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
I've taken on a prayer practice of looking for the moments of light in each day, whether actual or metaphorical, and then writing or posting photos of what I find.