Yesterday afternoon Susan and I had the pleasure of joining her parents at Disney Hall as the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra masterfully performed a symphony written by the Russian composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff. We had the good fortune of being seated in the first row just behind the orchestra, thereby looking directly into the face of the guest conductor, Robert Spano, as he intimately led the orchestra through the 3 movements. I was struck by how relaxed and powerfully present he was in his eyes, and like the photo above, his face was as fluid as a baby child’s. He was clearly in his natural element, with his whole body moving with the changing tempo and flow of music as he intimately collaborated with each member of the orchestra. He radiated with a joy that, perhaps, was the ultimate conductor of the piece.
Reflecting later upon my experience of the wide variations of music contained within the three movements of the symphony, I began to appreciate how each of our lives, just like in nature, are comprised of ever-changing movements, seasons and cycles. Said another way, our lives are made up of a continual flow of beginnings, middles and endings. I’ve also learned, through supporting people as they traverse through powerful sacred passages in their lives, that because endings and beginnings can often be quite vulnerable and take us into the unknown, most of us humans have a tendency to try to “extend our middles,” often in an attempt to stay comfortable and avoid risk and pain.
The poet David Whyte recently shared his perspective about this process:
“In our personal pilgrimages there are constant edges that we are asked to go to. And if you shy away from these pioneering edges because you feel that they lead through doorways that are too difficult, you stay in a kind of bland middle. In the artistic tradition, any movement at all is understood to be disturbing and destabilizing, and the process of living is a constant visitation and absence from this edge. There is no human being who can stay at the edge all the time, and you shouldn’t try and force yourself to the edge. We’re creatures of visitation and absence, and we learn through visitation and absence. But, if you don’t spend any time at all in places where you are being broken open, where you are being enlarged, where you are being humiliated, where you’re being re-tooled for a larger world, then you stay in your old life and can become haunted by it.”
If you or someone you know is in the season of welcoming a new beginning into your life — with all the courage and innocence required to embrace it — you might appreciate the following blessing in the form of a poem:
FOR A NEW BEGINNING
by John O’Donohue
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety,
And the grey promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
As you complete your weekend and head into another week’s creative flow of beginnings, middles and endings, may you do so with the fluid face of a young child — and one of my favorite quotes as your companion:
“Every morning we must hold out the chalice
of our being to receive, to carry, and to give back.”
~ Dag Hammarskjold
With much Love your way, Gavin