Time to Start Dancing


As if the river is on fire – early morning winter sunrise

Rooted is part of the  phrase that consistently “spoke” to me during the exercise I wrote about in December. I said to myself that it has more to do with “rooted in God” than “rooted in Staverton”. But as the days have gone on in January, and bookings have steadily come in (two years ago I had an empty calendar from January to May) I have the sense that it might mean both. I’ve lived here for almost 5 years, during which time I’ve had a number of health set backs, well documented, such that I feel I’m starting afresh this year with improved health both personally and in the bookings department.


Selkie has an encounter with a swan @ Still Pool

“Rooted” is also a good word for someone like me who is a “7” on the Enneagram. Sevens are the “enthusiasts” – endlessly coming up with (what seem like) exciting ideas, we love everything to do with stimulating the senses, and are constantly on the go with new projects, finding it hard to settle on one. I suffered from a bout of “seven-ness” over Christmas and New Year when, too late for my well-being, I realised that my mind was way ahead of my body in the ideas department. So I have reigned myself in big time this month and so far it’s been a positive experience, simply focussing on being here in this place, and not getting into plans for travel or new projects.


Winter’s day reflections on the Dart @ Hembury Woods

One other really positive outcome from the “give me a word” exercise, was being encouraged to decide on a practice that would support the deepening of the “word” in life. I decided I would take a retreat day once a week. I wondered if it might turn out to be a New Year’s resolution that ended up in the bin, especially as once a week seems a bit, well, enthusiastic, but so far it’s working really well. I just have to watch that I don’t go hell for leather the next day to “catch up”!

On my most recent retreat day I took the Lectionary readings for Sunday (29th) which had a clear theme of  God’s abundance and generosity – the story of Elijah being fed by the widow and the story of the wedding at Cana. I was drawn to the word “abundance”  which took me to back to an online course “The Wisdom Jesus” that Cynthia Bourgeault offered a few years ago. In a section entitled “The problem with hoarding” she says, ““Abundance” is not really a noun; it’s a verb. It’s an “abun-dance”: a dynamic flow that is engaged only when you get out on the dance floor and start dancing; ….Survival of the fittest is not the bottom line; the dance floor has been expressly designed to hold us up. Since this point is so fundamentally counter-intuitive for our anxiety-prone minds, it’s little wonder that Jesus takes every occasion to hammer it home. In virtually all his teachings the fundamental leitmotif is an “over-the-top” generosity…Think of all those well-loved parables – the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, the loaves and fishes, the water turned into wine…. It is not a question of “adequate” or “barely enough”, but of a fullness “filled up, pressed down, running over”. The trick is that we have to be willing to receive it – and having received it, to allow it to flow from us again. The problem with any kind of constrictive motion – taking, defending, hoarding, clinging – is that it makes us spiritually blind, unable to see the dance of divine generosity which is flowing all around us.”


The first snowdrops I saw on the river bank, a couple of weeks ago.

It’s very easy to hook into the negative side of this – we are so familiar with the places where we hold back, withhold, cling on, and off we go, doing ourselves down for not being more generous, or getting more involved, or or…more something. Around here there are endless spirituality groups I could get involved with, and some I even think I “should”. And I’ve been berating myself big time recently in relation to charitable giving. It doesn’t get us anywhere, and if anything, the self-critic keeps us well locked into a spiritual blind alley.


This week on Feb 1 it’s St Brigid Day, snowdrops are one of her symbols

So, rather than gird up my loins to do more and try harder (there’s always the opportunity for that), I had one of those little “aha” moments, as I was pondering all this yesterday.  I noticed the way in which I have been “abundant” in the development of the retreat space here.  In a heart felt way I chose to pour a lot of energy, ideas, time and money into the project – it was a gesture of “abundance” which I can truly say, for once, was freely given. And it helps that it is aligned with a sense of calling to offer this kind of space.

Reflecting on that  moment, it came with a strong sense of spaciousness within, which was aligned with a sense of freedom. This is because I now know it’s absolutely ok to let go of other “shoulds” and “good ideas” and so on, and simply concentrate on “dancing” this one project as well as I can. This I think is what I intuited when the words “rooted in freedom” called to me as my “word” for 2017. And what I love too is that the catch is, once again, in the willingness to let go. The world doesn’t come to an end!


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