“By letting go it all is done, but when we try and try, the world is then, beyond salvation.”
– Lao Tzu
I first heard this koan when I was in my twenties in an “Art of Living” class in British Columbia. I remember thinking,– I have no idea what this means, but it feels true to me. Lao-Tzu’s words have continued to baffle and inspire me over the years and they are still mystery to me, –even as I am faithful to the practice of “letting go”. Why I’m so smitten by this time of year, and more than ever before, so grateful that I live here.
Now is the time of the falling leaves, the vegetable garden clean-up and watching the world change. Here in the Hickory Nut Gorge we can look out at the mountains and begin to see the shapes of them, what was once hidden by all the foliage, now becoming more visible. I walk every day, and I am amazed that the same place can be so different here on any given day as I slow down and pay attention. I also sit every day. Sometimes I sit in the forest, or along the river watching the leaves floating down and around the stones. Sitting in nature also brings change in the inner landscape, too. Sitting anywhere, in quiet, does this. It is with awe I recognize our Earth’s faithful, up close, annual reminder. Every year, like clockwork, it says to us, LOOK. Watch. See. Life is about seasons, life IS change, as in George Harrison’s beautiful song, “All Things Must Pass Away.” When I was young, I remember my mother had a book titled, “This, Too, Shall Pass”. I remember how it was a solace to her and at the very same time, for me, during the tender years of my life, I felt very sad that “this, too, will pass”. So much is uncertain, unknown. How are we to cope?
In his article, “Navigating Mysteries” the storyteller and mythologist Martin Shaw asks, “What if we reframe ‘living with uncertainty’ to ‘navigating mystery’? I like this!
“Navigating mystery humbles us, reminds us with every step that we don’t know everything, are not, in fact, the masters of all.”
Ah, here’s an openness and letting go. For sure the uncertainty is a reality, it’s here all right, but to awaken to the mystery hidden within feels very different. We can cultivate this approach, as a mindfulness practice in our moments. It changes the inner energy and I find, it begins to brighten my outlook. Perhaps we need simply to be very quiet and pay attention:
“Make space for the miraculous, make space for grace—these energies show up constantly in our lives. To behold them is to bear witness to them. To celebrate them. That’s an infectious and noble position to take. “ (https://emergencemagazine.org/essay/navigating-the-mysteries/)
Poet Mary Oliver puts it this way in her lovely book, “Red Bird”:
“Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.”