The following are some recent reflections about the mysterious potential of transitions.
What if the intelligence of the transition you’re facing holds a mystery beyond what partner, job or activity you choose to stop or start?
Transitions can’t be controlled
Transitions have a rhythm. We often seek to control it’s pacing, the path & the outcome. As transitions begin, we’re faced with dual feelings of loss and excitement. The imagery often associated with transitions is the crossroads. This can appear like we have a choice point to go left or to go right. On one level of experience, this indeed may be true, however, what if there were an infinite galaxy of choice points available to you?
Transitions are psychological and change is situational (William Bridges). I would add, transitions are spiritual. What I mean is they’re encoded with a becoming process that most often isn’t clear to us until we’ve crossed the river; until we’ve become someone new.
Transitions invite us to consider who we are, beyond our personality
In the field of personal & professional development we’ve a plethora of tools to support us to understand who we are. Most often these tools reveal patterns and qualities related to our personality. Personality is an interesting concept. It tells only but one level of the story. The larger question for some who are on a path of growth & development becomes: who am I, beyond my personality? What am I?
Transitions are process oriented experiences
This broader philosophical inquiry can begin a process that transcends a life-time. Often described as an awakening. Change can precipitate this new level of inquiry. However, transition becomes the process, the river, the crossroads we begin to face with the fullness of our being.
Are all transitions designed to awaken our embrace of the mysterious? I don’t know. What I’m learning is that if a transition does awaken this line of inquiry, it becomes quite challenging to dismiss it’s call.
The quest of ourselves takes on a flavor of wonder and curiosity that is flexible, spacious and at times deeply challenging to our conditioned life choices.
Practically, the tools and approaches we engage shift.
Beyond the personality profiles that offer a window into our current personality, these new tools offer pathways to explore new territories that awaken more questions than answers. They invite a consideration that who we’ve been, doesn’t predict who we can become. Some examples I’ve seen in my own journey & with those of clients are: astrology, archetypal work, shamanic experiences & healings, psychological processes that transcend the allopathic view of normal, oracles like the tarot, iChing or spiritual philosophies that orient new metaphysical understanding of life’s journey. In addition there seems to be a journey of exploring wisdom tradition lore’s and practices. We gather in circles and begin to develop community that breathes meaning and challenge to living in greater alignment and harmony with the mystery of life.
The trick in any of these new pathways to support the broader transition’s intelligence is in staying with her mystery. You see we’re deeply conditioned to know. We prize clarity and certainty sometimes at the detriment to ourselves and each other.
Security in the known becomes the unspoken motivation of our pursuit and we find ourselves exhausted, disappointed and more confused then ever. This has been for me a powerful cue that I’ve embarked on an exploration with the pursuit of a prescribed outcome in mind. When the journey itself asks that I embark with faith, trust, patience & love. These four qualities I feel are the foundation of this courageous path of transition. One that must have fellow travellers who have a light when all feels dark.
If we’re in the river of transitions, there are four oars we may want to gather for our boat.
Faith, trust, patience & love.
Faith is defined as the complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Part of the stepping into the river of transition awakens a call to/for/with faith. In many ways our lives are built and organized around what we have faith in. There is not greater time to become aware of our roots of faith, then during a transition.
Trust can be defined as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something. Trust is something we can apply like currency. We give it freely, withhold it or choose to expend it once earned. However, like faith, trust is a powerful doorway into uncovering & discovering how you relate to something that appears to live beyond yourself, that in truth is possibly one & the same thing.
In the process of transitions, we’re invited to trust. Trust ourselves fully, even when others reflect the absence of this. Trust feels like a core spice in supporting us to step off the bank of the river of an ending. The space where the transition truly begins.
Patience has been defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset. Patience reveals herself in our relationship with “time”. What do we believe about time? How do we relate with the “timing of things”? Patience for those driven by the desires of NOW can be a powerful lesson during transitions. In many ways the re-imagined Self of patience is elegantly interwoven with faith & trust. She seeks her own council. Pursuing a journey back home to her innate and natural rhythms of life.
Love is often considered in our romantic lives. But what if the force of life was governed as/by & through love? What if the essence of who we are is love? What if the great stuff of the mystery is love?
Who might we become in the travels across the river if we were to ask:
What would love do?
Part of the boat, the structure that will support the journey, IS the community we create. Not any community, rather a sacred community of fellow travellers willing to paddle their own river, beside us!
Consider pausing to consider how faith, trust, patience, love & community are seeking to gather for your travel across the river.
What do you feel could most support you now?
Finally, I feel inspired to share this beautiful poem by Mary Oliver with you.
As you drink in her words, contemplate the mystery of the transition you’re currently facing.
Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.
Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.
This is from Evidence: Poems by Mary Oliver, published by Beacon Press, 2009.