It’s come again, as it has come so many recent summers. Drought. The effects of climate change are increasingly realized intimately here at Full Moon Cottage. The river has not even been navigable by canoe this spring; anglers could wade across the shallow water as soon as the snow melted, as could the geese and herons. Fish flee to deeper waters, if they can be found, and turtles are struggling to stay hydrated.
Years ago, when these droughts began to be a regular occurrence, we learned to take the time to mulch the gardens heavily once the Earth had thawed and warmed. This way, the garden retains what rains are offered and stays moist much longer through days of drought, but mulching isn’t enough to ensure the gardens’ health. It can mitigate the worst effects of drought but we’ve also had to re-envision the entire garden, learning which plants best survive, or which new plants may help the garden thrive during these dry times. They are the ones we seek, plant, divide and spread to fill the holes left by those now unable to withstand our permanently-altered climate. Drought demands innovation; former methods of gardening no longer work. We must adapt and change to survive and to flourish.
In the same way, we endure spiritual droughts in our lives, times when we cannot connect with our authentic selves, or are spiritually exhausted due to loss, grief, challenging transitions, or the deadening dullness of unchanging routines. I’ve learned to recognize these times for the invitations to deepening they offer, so I try to continue “mulching” with practices that have always called me back to sacred relationship (meditation, prayer, service, walking, writing, etc.). But more than a faithfulness to the known, I’ve found that seeking new ways to connect with Love has enriched my spiritual journey and “watered my soul” immeasurably. These are our spirit’s high times of discernment. Every relationship benefits from introducing “new dances” and discarding those that no longer spark our souls; certainly, the discovery of new ways for our gifts to translate Love into the world can lead us from drought to profound growth.
First, I think it’s helpful to respect the drought, or desert-time, for what it’s come to teach. Aridity can remarkably clarify our path and options. It is a call for our spirit to travel both forward and down, directionally, rather than rush backward to the safe and known. Times of drought strip us of illusion and shock us into silence. If we can withstand them and listen, they can become the pivotal, most memorable points in our lives, though we may not recognize them as such when we enter them. Free-writing, spiritual direction, journaling, labyrinth-walking, creating mandalas, and dreamwork/meditative collages, can all be methods of actively listening to these calls for a spiritual change of course, and can help us locate where our heart’s compass is pointing us. Creativity and surrendering to unknown destinations are necessities for these journeys; our inner pilgrim artist is the heroine of desert-times.
For me, life-changing shifts have begun on spiritual retreats and many places offer these for a day, weekend, or longer. If affordable, such changes of place and routine can truly shake us up in necessary, challenging, and life-altering ways. One of the blessings from our time in lockdown, however, has been the proliferation of online classes and retreats, some of which can be attended “live,” and some with the benefit of being recorded, so we can be present when our schedule allows. I think it’s better, for me, to attend such sessions and retreats in-person, but so many of us don’t have the free-time or, frankly, the funds to do so, and can now, happily, take advantage of these virtual offerings.
I have several places that are reliable homes for my spirit when it’s in need of being held and guided through pivotal change. One is the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and I have been so happy to see that most of the recent offerings are also available to attend online, as the 2.5-hour traveling time is prohibitive for me at this point in my life. (www.FSCenter.org) You may want to see if any of these programs or retreats speak to your heart, or remind you of places in your own part of the world that can offer you nourishing and creative support and redirection in times of drought and transition.
Spiritual awakenings occur when we first recognize we’re falling asleep. Soul-tending is vital not just to our survival, but to our full flowering as gifted humans, here to serve and to love our unfolding journey and all others traveling beside us. Admitting “I thirst,” can be the beginning of unexpected and profound shifts in our lives, if we pursue the path of drought to the new, green and startling garden waiting to be revealed.
© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.