For your pondering pleasure – word count 709 – reading time five minutes
by Ann Starrette © January, 2008
Dormant gifts burst with life in right habitat.
Continually I hear people of all ages, races and faiths crying out to God, “Show me the way. Tell me what it is You want me to do. Write it in the sand or across the sky. Somehow, any how, get the message to me, God.” Sound familiar?
People tend to wobble without direction. I once heard someone say “God can’t drive a parked car. Just get going! He’ll turn you around if you’re headed in the wrong direction.” I believe that.
One of our greatest challenges and responsibilities is that we already have what is ours to give. It does not necessarily take more practice, more training, more education. More often it is a matter of plugging away at the inner discernment process and moving toward the environment that brings our natural gifts to life. In the right habitat, dormant gifts burst with life.
The most subtle barrier to the discernment process is the gifts themselves – whether you call them “native gifts” as author Parker J. Palmer or “unique ability” as strategic coach Dan Sullivan. We’re unconscious of them simply because they are who we BE naturally. Parker says we are “utterly unaware of the mastery they give us.”
Never reading poetry, I was a bit shocked at the effect THE SWAN, a poem by German born (1876) Rainer Maria Rilke has had on me. After listening to a conference cassette tape of speaker and poet David Whyte reading a translated version, I stopped the tape and sat with the words. I rewound the tape and listened again. Then again and again. This poem seems to sum up our plight and our hope.
“This laboring through what is still undone, as though, legs bound,
we hobble along the way,
is like the awkward walking of the swan.
And dying—to let go, no longer feel the solid ground we stand on every day—
is like his anxious letting himself fall into the water,
which receives him gently and which,
as though with reverence and joy,
draws back past him in streams on either side;
while, infinitely silent and aware,
in his full majesty and ever more indifferent, he condescends to glide.
In water, magic happened. Out of water, a mere awkward existence. I began to ask myself, “Ann, what is your ‘water’?” What are you doing, who are you with, what are the circumstances that cause you to feel bound, awkward, hobbling along with half steam, exhaustion, insecurity and frustration? What are you afraid to die to, to let go of simply because, well, at least it’s solid ground? It’s what you’ve always done. What’s expected. What you know. Why are you so anxious about taking a step toward your ‘water?’ You’ve heard others speak of this state of whole heartedness. You’ve witnessed this rare reverence, joy, and majestic quality in a waitress, a computer repairman, a chamber of commerce president. How did they get to this graced state of ‘glide?’”
Whether consciously or unconsciously, Poet David Whyte says moving to this birthright of aliveness begins with “the conversation.” It begins when you and I ask ourselves, “What’s the courageous conversation that needs to take place in my life right now about the longings of my heart? First with myself, if only a lament, and then with others?”
You may be so far removed from your ‘water’ that you haven’t a clue where to start. Start by questioning ‘this laboring through what is still undone.’ Face and take stock of the things in your life that cause frustration, stress, conflict and confusion. Trust wholeheartedly that your ‘water’ is waiting to accept you gaily. Just the act of doing this, Whyte encourages, will move you closer to your divine ‘water.’
To get moving in the right direction, first and foremost, be yourself! Resolve to bring who you are to what you do. Then, look around. Do you see a need – within or without? Seize the opportunity. Say to yourself, “By the grace of God I can do that.” Start doing it. If God doesn’t stop you, keep walking. Like the swan, you’ll know when you’ve arrived.
“Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armor. He put his bronze helmet
on his head and belted his sword on him over the armor. David tried to walk
but he could hardly budge. David told Saul, “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me.
I’m not used to his.” And he took it all off.
1 Samuel 17: 38-39
Director of Spiritual Formation at Davidson United Methodist Church, Davidson, NC, and founding director of the Lydia Group Spiritual Formation/ Retreat Ministry, Ann provides Spiritual Guidance/Coaching, Workshops & Retreats for contemplative living and leadership. Quietly Planting Inner Seeds of Freedom, Growth and Transformation
www.The Lydia Group.com
704-892-8277 – Davidson United Methodist Church
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