LIMITS AND BLESSINGS
In my world, this is a time of laboured breath and limited capacity for walking. While medical investigations are underway, I am constrained in what I can do. But walking outside, taking slow deep breaths, and drinking plenty of water are medically and spiritually recommended. Today I went outside for the first time in some days, water bottle to hand, and a rhythm of slow, deep breathing established.
I walked in my neighbourhood and a nearby local park. The picture above is a treescape from that park. For me, it is images solidity and endurance alongside blue sky and spring growth. In itself, it occupies a unique niche in the web of life. I enjoy its company, and the opportunity to record its presence here.
My world may seem, at least for the time being, to have shrunken. My own presence in it, and my perceptions when present to it, do not have to shrink along with the physical distance I can cover. A necessary slowing down contains it own opportunities. I have space and time to enjoy the willows here, their leaves, and the shadows of their leaves. I am constrained to take notice. I appreciate the experience of noticing. I am reminded that I am just outside the period assigned to willow in my personal tree mandala (1,2), but of course it is not too late to connect and commune. There are compensations nested in my unwanted condition.
I find the houses and their surrounding plant life photogenic, not least under a blue April sky. The season has been advancing, the equinox now well past. Around me, I find an energetic acceleration towards summer. Hildegard von Bingen called this kind of natural power viriditas. I can recognise and enjoy it even when I’m lagging behind.
Very close to home I encounter the ruins of Gloucester’s Franciscan Priory, sadly with a nondescript mid C20th building tacked on behind them. They are a landmark for me on my return. I’m tired. I’ve about reached my limit. Although I’m sad that my walking distance is so limited, I feel blessed and nourished by what I find within the limitations. I am also glad to sit down and recognise feeling at once refreshed and exhausted.
(2) The mandala is based on my personal experience of trees in the neighbourhood as well as traditional lore. Moving around the spring quarter from 1 February, the positions and dates of the four trees for this quarter are: Birch, north-east, 1-22 February; Ash & Ivy, east-north-east, 23 February – 16 March; Willow, east, 17 March – 7 April; Blackthorn, east-south-east, 8 – 30 April. The summer quarter then starts with Hawthorn at Beltane. For a complete list of the sixteen trees, see https://contemplativeinquiry.blog/2020/autumn-equinox-2020-hazel-salmon-awen/
I do enjoy reading your blog James. I’m sorry you’re going through this, but how right you are that there is this extraordinary gift ‘nested’ as you put it so well, within the experience of having to slow down. It reminds me of the idea of ‘hallowing limitation’.
I like the sound of ‘hollowing limitation’, a new term for me. Thanks for your appreciation Philip.
I hope you get some useful clarity about that’s going on.
Thanks Nimue. Chest Xray this pm! My love to you and Tom with your own challenges ♥
Best wishes to you James. Since my heart surgery last November, I am only able to use a walker outside. Old age catches up with us, like it or not (and I don’t).
Thanks Ron. I didn’t realise you needed a walker now. I don’t these aspects of aging either!
All the best to you!
Thanks Julie. Same to you!
Sorry to hear about your medical problems. Hope things improve for you soon.
Thanks Lorna. I seem to have COPD. The good news is that I also seem to be emerging from a bad phase. I have a lot to learn, I think, about how to live well with this recently discovered condition.
I guess a diagnosis is something and at least you now know what you’re dealing with. I’m glad to hear you’re emerging from a bad phase. I hope things continue to get better for you.