Like many people I’ve been watching the river this week, but I watch her often. For me she is Mother River. I can’t begin to accurately describe the serenity I find on her banks or the myriad lessons I’ve learned by simply being still at her side.
This week the lesson I learned was about emptiness and fullness. I didn’t realize that was why I had gone to see her yesterday though. I simply went because I had been feeling called to and someone at the bus stop that morning had reminded me of her. So off I went to see how high the water was and to enjoy the peace despite the little bit of chill in the air and the gray skies.
For about a week I have been going through a process of emptying out, emotionally and spiritually. It’s a process that I am working with in general this year, being empty and refilling. The empty part has been challenging. It is not easy to be still with emptiness because it feels like loss at first. Yet, I’m discovering that is not what it is at all.
The first time I went through the process last month I spent a week experiencing intense feelings of separation, from people, from my Source. It was a real challenge. I had been given a gift before that week began though, a glorious moment of oneness spent with a Great Blue Heron that served as a reminder to me that the feelings of separation I was feeling were just that, feelings, not the truth. It is a delicate difference and yet made all the difference that week as I returned to remembering my truth that I can never truly be separate from my Source. In the end, what I found in the stillness of the emptiness was an incredible sense of joy.
This month the initial feelings were similar though slightly different. It was more a feeling of being alone. I know that sounds the same as separate, but it didn’t feel that way. The gift I received to help me through it this time was an opportunity last week to share a story with my daughters from when I was 18 years old. It was a soft, quiet moment that changed my life. At the time I was feeling more alone than I ever had before (including all the drama of that feeling that goes along with being 18!). I had some pretty good reasons at the time because I had moved away from all I knew, all I had grown up with, the summer before I headed off to college, lots of major changes. I was feeling a great deal of despair one night and I looked out the window of my room and through the branches of the trees there was a star. I had seen it there before out my window but in that moment I knew it was there for me. Because the light of that one star brought me a knowing that as lonely as I might be feeling, I was not alone, I was never alone. That moment changed my life and I knew from that moment forward that I would never be alone. Having just told my daughters about that night, served as a reminder to me this week when I was in the midst of feelings of being alone and empty.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I am willingly going through this process of being empty and full in a spiritual sense. It is a great learning for me this year and I am grateful for the opportunity and the gifts I am receiving to help me through it.
As I went to Mother River yesterday to sit in the stillness of the emptiness, she showed me something. The water between her banks was still quite high from the rains of previous days and I knew more rain was coming that would raise her levels even higher. What she helped me realize as I sat there watching her, was that she felt the same to me despite the rushing waters. The essence of her, her spirit, felt the same even though she was very full. I then thought about the times I have sat beside her when water was scarcer and realized she felt the same then too. The difference had been in her physical expression only; her essence remained the same whether she was empty or full. Honestly, I was stunned by the realization. It was so simple and yet for me so profound and until that moment I had not seen it. I am in constant awe of the lessons she willingly teaches if I simply listen and observe.
This morning I remembered something else about my times with Mother River when she was empty. Last summer we were able to wander to places we could not normally reach when she is full. In those places we found great treasures that we would not have found if she had not been empty. So this week I am deeply grateful to Mother River and for the treasures found in the emptiness as well as the fullness.