Finding Courage & Joy in Stress

Feb 2015 095

Nope, we won’t be meeting for core awareness class tonight, I decided with a twinge of disappointment as I flailed and skated down the driveway on a solid sheet of ice. I’ve been stuck in the house for two days straight and I was really  looking forward to getting some exercise and seeing the faces of friends. The disappointment faded as I stood taking in the scenery around me: the icicles adorning the magnolia tree and a pansy’s petals unfurled against the ice.  I remembered two things in that moment. First, I had not intended the core awareness class to be merely physical exercise, but an exploration of the core in body, mind, and spirit. Second, I recalled excerpts from Parker Palmer’s words on winter:

The rigors of winter…are accompanied by amazing gifts…One gift is beauty…I am not sure that any sight or sound on earth is as exquisite as the hushed descent of a sky full of snow. Another gift is the reminder that times of dormancy and deep rest are essential to all living things. Despite all appearances, of course, nature is not dead in winter – it has gone underground to renew itself and prepare for spring.

That these memories were triggered by the sight of a pansy seems fitting as the pansy is a symbol of remembrance. Pansy comes from the French word pensée, which means thought. Given the hardiness of the flower I wonder why the word is sometimes used to imply wimpyness when it could be used as a compliment indicating one can flourish, despite harsh conditions.  Why yes, I am a pansy, thank you.

In lieu of tonight’s class, I hope you’ll take some time to watch a talk on resilience by health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, to make time for deep rest, and to consider Palmer’s words:

Our inward winters take many forms – failure, betrayal, depression, death. But every one of them, in my experience, yields to the same advice: “The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them.” Until we enter boldly into the fears we most want to avoid, those fears will dominate our lives.  But when we walk directly into them – protected from the frostbite by the warm garb of friendship or inner discipline or spirital guidance – we can learn what they have to teach us.  Then, we discover once again that the cycle of the seasons is trustworthy and life-giving, even in the most dismaying season of all.

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3 responses to “Finding Courage & Joy in Stress

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