Walking in single digit temperatures by the Rio Grande River and later beside Blanca Vista Lake, I hear thumping, knocking, and the rumble of water beneath the ice. I become still and close my eyes, waiting and listening as the morning sun warms my back.
Recently I was reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words, “The earth laughs in flowers.” I say the earth speaks in the groans of water coated in layers of ice. The winter chatter of the river and lake are as beautiful to me as birds belting out spring songs.
The river, of course, still flows, but the lake––her waters bumping under the weight of ice––barely muffles her sounds. Awe and joy fill me in these moments. One of my writing teachers, Mark Matousek, while speaking about having reverence for the beauty of the world, recently shared the words of Meher Baba, “Things that are real are given and received in silence.”
Such listening deepens my relationship with myself and with silence. “Who are you when no one else is around?” Mark asked in a recent Seekers Forum talk.
I’ve had to develop strength and learn sufficient trust to be able to stop, be still, and listen to what’s beneath my own shell of ice––that rumble that occurs from whatever I may be trying to hold down. When I’m alone, often what “I’ve held the lid on” begins to surface in efforts to dispel the fog, crack the ice, and free the water. Tears flow and grief pounds my prayers as I walk the long stretch of levee and river.
Vulnerability has a respectable stage presence these days, but taking it on, like Bréné Brown claims, sure can be a street fight. Practicing distraction, numbness, or dissociation seems so much easier than stopping and listening to that which we ignore or shut down within ourselves. Mark says the very thing we want to know about ourselves is the key to our creativity, that we can’t know who we are if we don’t know where we come from.
Remember Newton promising that for every action there is a reaction? Hearing the knocks and groans of water under ice, I stop and listen to the rumblings from my own shadowy depths and remember to let vulnerability transform into courage.
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