The Drinking Bowl
A friend of mine whose father was a mountain climber shared some wisdom from his experiences that has inspired a great analogy. Her dad loved to climb a particular mountain in New Zealand that had a long scree slope near the top. A scree is a collection of broken fragments of rock that has accumulated through periodic rockfall from adjacent cliff faces. Once on the scree slope, for every two steps forward, you take one step back, and it always feels as if you will never get over it and reach the peak. How frustrating that must be! However, by persevering, a climber will eventually move past the scree slope to arrive at the mountaintop.
If you’ve been facing unexpected challenges, if your core issues are coming to the fore, or if you feel overwhelmed by everything that’s happening, you are not alone. You may feel as if you go two steps forward only to take one step back.
I can relate! Four years ago I undertook a major addition/renovation to my home. On paper, the plans looked simple, and the process, though time consuming, would be relatively painless. I’ve heard of those DIY shows on HGTV: three weeks from idea to blueprints to tear-down to furniture selection and moving in! What could be easier?
Well, I hit a scree slope: Two-day projects turned into two-week projects; minor glitches turned into major setbacks. As the months plodded on, mental and physical fatigue set in. As promises were broken or delayed or altered, I wondered if the renovations would ever take shape. It took over two years for me to cross the scree slope and realize my dream of a dedicated sacred space in my home.
Somewhere mid-process, I realized I had to nurture myself with the same encouragement and understanding I had been sharing with my clients. And the key word was adaptability.
Adaptability is watchword for the personal and spiritual path, and it’s singularly hard to do when you’re feeling pushed to your outer limits. But adapt is precisely what we are being called to do: Notice the places where we’re feeling pushed, and rather than resist them, use them to continue beyond the scree slope.
Lena Stevens, international teacher and shamanic practitioner, writes: “We have been put through the paces, initiated into the unknown, forced to trust, and are now facing our own resistance to change and evolution.” When this happens, “we…get to experience that resistance is futile and stems only from our own fears of the unknown and our attachment to what we know. It is time to adapt to what is actually happening and to where the energy wants to flow.”
Lately, I’ve been saying these very things to client after client. When we bump up against our resistance, there is only one way to move—and that’s forward, where adaptability, flexibility, resilience, and resourcefulness come into play.
Look at the doors you are opening
Stevens goes on: “When you can be proactive with your choice to accept and be flexible, the universe opens more possibilities for you. Instead of focusing on the door that is closing, look around you at all the ones that are opening. The more flexible and accepting you can be, the more resourceful you will be with an easier time adjusting and adapting to current situations.”
The Drinking Bowl
Let’s return to my friend’s mountain climber father. In the middle of that scree slope, just when he thought he couldn’t go on, would never get past it, and would never, ever, reach the summit, he came upon what climbers have named “the Drinking Bowl,” a rock formation that held a big indentation of collected rainwater. That cool, abundant water tasted so good! It gave him the strength to go on.
Years later, my friend climbed the same mountain, arrived at the scree slope, and realized her father hadn’t been exaggerating. It was tough! And just as she was about to give up, she herself arrived at the Drinking Bowl. Just as it had been with her father, she was refreshed and energized by this cool, delicious water, and she, too, reached the top.
That story reminds me that no matter how intense life gets, no matter how long and challenging the scree slope, an unexpected, refreshing provision always appears along the way to sustain us and encourage us on our journey forward. This is the way of Spirit. I hope this reflection will support and encourage you on whatever path you are traveling.
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