Preparing for my upcoming session at the Renew and Rise Virtual Festival I contemplated how I could weave the threads of my work together. A rich blend of holding space for ceremonies, the honest conversations around death and dying, the mourning and celebration circles, online memorial services, non violent communication and mindfulness programs.
I am used to a tighter brief – a wedding with a couple, a funeral with family and friends, a celebrant training with a focus, a mourning and celebration circle for an organisation or community, a teaching session in one of the programs. What was this session calling for?
The following is what I adapted from my journal entry and used for the opening of my session. You might want to play this track which was recorded outside my window, predawn, on Gumbaynggirr country, with the sound of the ocean in the background.
I was drawn from my sleep by the koel’s steady call. Other birds joined in the chorus.
My mind kickstarted into an alertness, questions circling around a need to know, to pin down what it was that I would speak to. I dressed.
It was overcast as I walked along the headland and down along the beach, breathing in the fresh coastal air, alive and awake. I could feel my heart open to the vast horizon across the grey ocean. A small glimpse of sunrise peeking through the clouds with a stream of angelic light reflecting upon the water.
As I got home, the sky grew black and dark, the air close against my skin.
The heavens opened… torrential rain fell loud on the roof, that gave no mercy as it beat in sideways.
Old man kangaroo on the back lawn, drenched, fur askew, yet seemingly unfazed, looking out beyond the creek.
Yesterday, I’d planted some springtime seedlings. Joy arose as I sensed the roots reaching down a little deeper into the earth, feeding on the nourishment of the wet, rich soil.
The storm passed as quickly as it had come. The sun emerged from behind the clouds and five kookaburras flew into the outstretched limb of the casuarina tree just above the creek. They laughed back and forth without any reservation. Unashamed and out of rhythm, they laughed. I could hear my friend and Elder, Aunty Bea saying. ‘They are letting us know not to sweat the small stuff.’
On the leaves and spiderwebs in the garden and the forest across the creek, were a thousand jewel raindrops sparkling that caught my eye. Gems of joy and beauty. The white butterflies and bees returned and danced on the leaves of the huge flowering bush just outside my door. Four black cockatoos flew overhead in their random, gawky way, squawking raucously, in the now clear, blue sky.
The koel returned. A fresh start before they, too, would leave this place.
I breathe out and rest a while, just listening to life moving around me and in me, before getting up to write. Just a moment to listen to the story of life. Something fresh will come from this place of stopping, breathing and letting life be.
Renewed, I rise. Not with a clear direction, rather with a clean slate to make a fresh start.
The first two lines of John O’Donohues Blessing for presence, come to mind, ‘May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.’
Awaken to the mystery, to hold space with my pen in hand, so that I might listen to what is being asked of me.
How do we meet the storms of our precious human life? Sunshine one moment, torrential downpour in the next.
Is it possible to hold the mourning and the celebration in the same breath, the same conversation? The feelings of insignificance and significance? How can we connect with others when there are hard conversations that are calling and stay present? How do we embrace a fresh start? How can we renew and rise?
In the Renew and Rise Festival session space we explored these questions and more. Next time I hope you can join me.