Exploring Inner Landscapes by Pam Montgomery

The next three weeks are the darkest time of the year when the days grow shorter and the nights longer. Ideally we take this time of year to “be” more and “do” less. Personally, I take this time to explore my inner landscape. I start my day very slowly and quietly perhaps with only a candle lit or the glow from the firelight in the woodstove. I travel the varying terrain of my inner world and take stock of what has filled my cup, left me saturated, what feels tender or what inspiring ideas continue to find a place to seed themselves. As I journey I find rough jagged areas, smooth warm surfaces, cool dry crevices, fresh menthol breaths and I invite the light to shine on those shadowy places that are persistent in their veiling.

Sometimes this exploration finds me in unknown territory where the lack of familiarity can be unnerving at best and a struggle to survive at its worst. It is here that I camp out and invite the strangely different emotions, thoughts and waves of insecurity to come sit by my fire. Perhaps in the shadow of the firelight I will get a glimpse of their faces and maybe even look into their eyes. As we weave in and out of searching for some semblance of comfort I begin to breath. I take a deep breath which fills me with the strength and guidance of one of my plant allies and realize this unknown place is merely a forgotten place. As the stories begin to emerge I find that I actually do know some of these seemingly foreign regions. I begin to remember that this too is part of who I am and I don’t need to be frightened. In this new light I see the fear has been the boulder that sits between me and a deeper understanding of a road I seldom travel. And yet here I am sitting around the fire under a predawn starry sky with all my fears, insecurities, doubts and troubles. The warmth of the fire and vastness of the still dark morning sky relax me and I invite each fireside companion to step forward into the light. Oh, look I know you – little curly headed one that became frightened from a mean-spirited one, and you, full of yourself, only to be made smaller by cutting words, or you the mature one who thought you knew best only to regret your actions. One after another they step forward into the light sharing their stories demanding to be heard. My heart softens with compassion and the love that I am wells up and embraces each and every one of them. I hear you, I see you, I forgive you, I love you, thank you. Here in the light and love of kinship with myself I’m no longer a stranger in a strange land. I come home to myself remembering that I am blessed.

Beannacht

("Blessing")

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.


~ John O'Donohue ~