Clear sky and silence

northern-lights-1149868_960_720Photo at Pixabay

I took my after-dinner amble beneath a clear sky this evening. I regularly walk a short stretch of road, sandwiched between two high drystone walls, that’s so dark at night I’m always mildly fearful, and my pace quickens.

But there’s sight, tonight, of a new crescent moon. And there’ll be another frost, so Clematis Rebecca has been tucked up in her fleece. And those two facts may help you to picture the night sky, the sharp, twinkling clarity I’ve just seen, above the dark corridor. And maybe you have experienced the absence of aforementioned mild fear that is a ready – even if temporary – consequence of awe?

Life is rich beyond all our imagining. When our vain fears and fantasies chatter daily, like monkeys, within the halls and chambers of our minds, the Universe provides the gift of a quietening, a stilling, an acceptance of both knowing and unknowing, faith and the absence of it, confidence and a tempter’s call to doubt.

I think of one (and many before him, and since) who ventured out into a dark corridor of wilderness long ago. And of his mental busyness being silenced, then, by the same stars that have silenced me tonight. And I imagine his being sometimes comforted, in his long sojourn there, by both awe and silence. And I am.

Leaderless teacher

Not for the first time Dr Bill Wooten set me on the trail of another good book today – and I’ve tracked down Ecopsychology a collection of essays that includes one on The Way of Wilderness by Steven Harper. I’m looking forward to its arrival here in a day or two – having a sense that I’ll be as taken with the collection as I was when I read the late, great Dr Gerald G May’s The Wisdom of Wilderness seven or eight years ago.

It’s Lent, of course, and every year, and for that reason, I have an eye out for some new insight on wilderness and what it might have meant for the Hebrews, and later for Jesus of Nazareth, and might mean for any of us, wherever in the world we are, in our own personal growing, in fractious, stirred and evolving times, physically and metaphorically – refugee camps and modern-day exiles in mind on the one hand, and the miracle of the International Space Station on the other!

Harper is writing about opt-in experience of course – a privilege not presently granted to refugees, who are where they are because they had little or no other choice. Dare we hope that the “leaderless teacher” (again, physical or metaphorical, outer or inner work) may instil something of “faith, hope and love” in any and all who encounter her? I need to hope and so dare I must …

When we are truly willing to step into the looking
glass of nature and contact wilderness, we uncover
a wisdom much larger than our small everyday selves.
Uninterrupted and undisturbed nature takes care of
itself. One of my favorite guidelines for facilitators
comes from Esalen Institute’s cofounder Richard Price,
who used to make the same distinction I am making here
between therapy and practice with respect to Gestalt.
Price liked to say, “Trust process, support process,
and get out of the way.” He frequently added, “If in
doubt, do less.” Personal evolution then becomes like
nature; instead of being a struggle, our process,
uninterrupted and undisturbed, becomes unfolding
growth. Wilderness is a leaderless teacher; there is
no one preaching change to us. The only personal
transformations that occur arise from within ourselves.

Steven Harper
Ecopsychology

And that’s how the Hebrews, and the man from Nazareth, and many others before and since, came upon such a deal of Wisdom to be shared – on the other side of wilderness encounter.