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Turning and Returning: The Foliage of the Heart

By Bethany Webster

I took a walk today and beautiful colored leaves covered the sidewalk. I looked around and saw trees glowing with colors of gold, deep red and orange. It struck me how beautiful it is that the leaves transform right before they die. Right when they are about to let go of the life they’ve lived for several months. The leaves survived the spring and summer, through many storms, wind, sun and rain. They’ve held on through so much and are now somewhat threadbare and tired looking. And right when they are about to be dropped and destroyed, they transform into a brilliant beauty. There is something so wise and beautiful in this. It speaks to the transformative, mysterious power of surrender.

When we are tired of resisting and trying to control life, when we are tired of pretending and striving, we start to surrender and let go, either consciously with intention to do so, or just from sheer exhaustion and overwhelm. We start to desire the deep rest and effortlessness of authenticity and the natural ease that comes from feeling held and supported.

There is magic in the way that as a leaf slowly falls, it is held and seemingly cradled until it finally rests on the earth.  It can be so soothing to watch a leaf fall slowly and gently to the ground, carried on the wind to a final place of stillness. On a deep level we all desire to release the rigid control that we’ve been conditioned to believe we must have on life. So often we fear that if we let go and lessen our grip on our life situation, that everything will fall apart immediately. This is not so. We are supported and loved beyond measure, but we can’t truly know this in our bones until we actually begin to let go and see what happens.

Letting go can mean many things to many people. Only you can know what it means to you. It could mean letting go of stress, of worry, or inhuman standards for yourself. Letting go could also mean simply slowing down the pace of your day, or reducing the clutter of your schedule or your living space.  A willingness to let go implies we’re done trying to hold everything together perfectly and are ready to be held by Life itself. We’re ready for life, a higher power, to take the wheel because we can no longer pretend that we have all the answers.  At this moment, we may feel totally defeated, exhausted or depressed. But I believe this is the moment when the inner leaves start to change within us and transform into a radiance our minds cannot fathom. It’s the beginning of an organic process leading back to the center of our being, to our natural state of unity with life.

As I walked down the street, I noticed that the some of the leaves had just fallen and were still firm, colorful and crisp. Other leaves looked like they had fallen weeks ago, which were colorless, damp and dissolving. Some leaves had already been reduced to pure mush and would soon go back to being undefined dirt, no longer recognizable as ever having been a colorful leaf that survived several seasons. As I walked over the leaves, I saw that they were being slowly pulverized under the weight of my boots.

After the initial relief and rest of letting go, we can come to a place of stillness and think that this relief is the endpoint. Yet, a pulverizing, or shedding process will ensue once we’ve rested on the ground of our being for a while. This is the point when people often think that something has gone wrong, that somewhere along the line, they failed, perhaps not letting go “correctly” or deeply enough. This is not the case, although it can seem to be that way. The pulverizing is a purging process in which after deeply letting go, anything that is not in alignment with the deep truth of your being will come to the surface to be faced and released. This includes ideas, beliefs and patterns that we have become attached to and have identified with, that had served only to maintain our defenses against painful emotions or the deeper truths we were not ready to face. This is a phase that, while it can certainly be postponed, it cannot be avoided, and ultimately the intensity and duration is different for everyone.

In a nutshell, after we surrender and let go, life asks us to let go of all that we are not, in order to become who we truly are.  This is a very holy, sacred time of distilling into our true identity as conscious spirit, life itself in physical form. We die as a leaf and dissolve, returning to the earth from which we initially came.

When we are in the process of letting go even deeper into Being, persevering through our shedding process, we start to have glimpses of our true nature, which is divine, untouched and ever-present. We see that we are indeed held and have always been held. If we stay true to the simplicity and ever deepening free-fall of surrender, the possibility opens up for us to directly experience ourselves as the One, the indestructible spirit that animates and lives within the heart of all Life. Our lives transform, our motivations change, fears lessen, thoughts are observed with gentleness. We embrace Life, living from a raw openness, simplicity and radical honesty.

Now the impulses of life move through us easily and we intuitively respond. We see our innate oneness with life. Circumstances change, inspiration sparks, insights flow into us, we feel drawn to once again take form, whether it’s a new life direction, a new project, or a new way to fold the laundry. Yet this desire to take a new form is not fueled by the belief that we have to achieve, obtain something or “be somebody.” It’s simply for the moment-to-moment joy of life itself! While simultaneously creating new forms, and dying as others, all the while, you consciously know your Self as the pure, untouched awareness, ever-present and intimate with itself. You are the fabric of life. You are Love.

© 2012 Bethany Webster

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