Last weekend while hiking in the nature preserve near where I live, I noticed hundreds of young piñon trees sprouting up in the forest. They were growing in the vicinity of the decaying remains of the piñons that died about a decade ago from the drought and bark beetle infestation. I remembered how sad I felt at the time. The devastation of the trees had felt ominously foreboding of a dark and gloomy future.
Yet here is that future today, and it’s quite different from what I imagined then. From the death of the old trees has come all this vibrant new life. It’s a good reminder that our perspective is often so limited. We forget that whatever is happening now is only part of a much larger cycle. Hope and resiliency lie in the understanding that this too will pass, and that death and loss is inevitably followed by rebirth and regeneration.
It’s not that grieving is wrong. Quite the contrary. It is a human need to grieve our losses. Grieving is the way through, how we surrender and let go. When we feel stuck, hopeless and depressed, it is usually because we are not grieving. Instead, we are resisting the part of the cycle we are in at the moment. It feels like it’s going to last forever, and afraid to surrender to the feelings, we go numb instead. And, ironically, it prolongs and adds to our misery.
Life is made up of so many cycles. At any one time we can be in the middle of multiple ones. I am drawn to astrology for this reason. The planets are always moving. When people come to see me I like to look at how what’s happening in the sky currently is affecting their birth charts. It can help put their experience into perspective.
There is something consoling in knowing that the process is bigger than we are. It’s easier to surrender to what is when we understand it as part of a larger process that is leading us somewhere, even if we don’t know exactly where. Part of my job is to hold that understanding when the other person forgets.
And for sure, those little piñons wouldn’t be here now if the conditions hadn’t been right for the seeds to germinate and sprout. It took precipitation. Our grief is nourishing to our psyche in the same way. It cleanses and softens the outer shell of our hearts that wants to harden against loss. Our tears, and even our anger, provide the conditions necessary for new life to eventually burst forth.
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