January 17, 2023
Making a New Beginning
By Amba Gale
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
– Martin Luther King
This is a time of new beginnings, for my life, for our lives, for the world.
In the last few years, we have been navigating our way through the challenging space of constraints, cocooning ourselves in our home, finding new ways for living a life worth living. In the midst of the trauma of such a sudden change, the separation of ourselves from a world that had a certain momentum, we find ourselves at the brink of questions that want to be addressed. As we create this new start, I am finding it worthwhile to be asking:
Who have I become?
Who am I now?
Who CAN I be?
In his beautiful book, Consolations, David Whyte says, about Beginning…
“Beginning well or beginning poorly, what is important is simply to begin, but the ability to make a good beginning is also an art form. Beginning well involves a clearing away of the crass, the irrelevant and the complicated to find the beautiful, often hidden lineaments of the essential and the necessary.”
As we gingerly, or perhaps boldly, step out onto the new ground we are currently finding ourselves in, it seems appropriate, fitting and even critical to ask certain questions, to take a deeper, personal, real dive into “putting our houses in order.”
The territory called “overwhelm” is overwhelming many of us.
Perhaps, it is time to simplify. New questions can be asked:
What have we been investing our time in that is now crass, irrelevant, or complicated?
Am I willing to let go of those?
What is time to eliminate?
What is it time to create?
What is it time to abandon?
What is it time to bring into existence?
What do I love most? In what ways can I amplify what I love most?
What am I merely tolerating?
In what ways can I shift my perspective or create new pathways of being and relating?
And new questions arise, that are ingrained in the poem, Skellig Speaks, came from my Muse guide, one month before Covid came into my life and changed my world. Having come to me in January, 2019, I began the years of, and opened the door to, living life in a restrained kind of way, with inventiveness, frugality, sufficiency, “enoughness”, and, even freedom, and inspiration, at the center of my being. Some of the inquiries that the poem gives rise to are–
What “lives at the edge” that it is time to leave behind?
To what do I devote my “focused intentionality?”
Am I willing to let go of “the life of argument?”
While the poem gave me an entrance into my own development, my own exploration of, and leaning into, these distinctions for simplification in 2020, and 2021, and 2022, I find the teachings still most relevant to today.
The poem is fierce, and I read it over and over and over again, to get the guidance, the call for simplicity in my life. While it seems as though what the speaker is demanding leads to scarcity, I can hear the call for a different kind of prosperity… a prosperity that comes from “being enough,” as in “sufficient,” from the profound contentment that lies with integrity, and from living a life well lived.
The Skelligs are three pyramid shaped rocks, 13 miles off the coast of County Kerry, Ireland, and have on them “beehive” huts, where the monks used to live who practiced in the 6th century Christian monastery. You might have seen the Skellig Michael monastery, which appeared in the film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as a Jedi temple.
I took the photo when we were in Ireland three years ago, on a Soul’s journey called Turas D’Anam.
By Amba Gale
(Upon reading “The Woodcarver,” by Chuang Tzu, as we enter 2022)
the green grass of Eire
and the unshorn sheep,
beyond the rock hewn wall
and the wild Atlantic,
like Himalayan mountains
whose unattainable peaks
call to you
you were a monk,
climbing those impossible stairs
ready to go to mass<
ready to say your prayers
ready for anything God has to give you.
Now you find it is difficult,
if not impossible
the stairs, the chants, the prayers,
the weather of the stormy seas,
the monastic life.
While the ancient rocks still call you,
you have left yourself in doubt
about your strength, about
your willingness to shape a life
of pure simplicity.
You question if
you can weather that impossible climb
where the weather blows
and the winds come racing a hundred miles per hour across
bone cold sea.
You know what you have to do,
but you just won’t do it.
What is being asked for is just too hard.
Oh, I pray for you, humanity,
in your soft, excessive clothes,
where life has become too easy.
The oh so ruthless bareness
and focused intentionality
of the Skelligs
is the lesson to be learned now.
A woodcarver, who has become one with his wood.
Who wants to climb those God forsaken stairs
to a bee hive hut
where no tree grows?
Who wants to
to find their God in the ancient rock?
Who wants to
live a life
where peace prevails
if it means that
surface pleasures drown in the rising tides
and conversations at the periphery must be left behind?
“How does this poem end?” you might ask,
I do not know.
that we must fast
during this outrageous storm
and embrace our enoughness.
that the love that is found
at the bottom of our own holy well
is there, available, and lives
at the center of our longing.
that we must climb
our narrow stairs
in search of Truth.
that we must leave behind
what lives at the edge.
Only, that this time
we had better make our peace,
and learn what there is to learn,
For our lives are at risk.
And the life of argument that we wanted to indulge
takes flight in the wind like a ghost
as we willingly and gladly leave behind
those surface conversations,
those actions that do not matter,
be mindful of our manners and our practices,
borne of soul
borne of heart,
and borne of the well wishes of the ancestors and ancients.
I do not know the part of me that wrote this poem.
let it be a lesson for us all.