It was a gloriously sunny morning and I was sitting in the cemetery talking to a friend in London. The weather in London had been beautiful too and my friend was telling me about the pretty daisy chain she'd made the previous day. It wasn't the beauty of the daisy chain she lingered on, however, but the fact that, the next morning, all the daisies in that chain looked pretty much dead.
Her insight had been how beautifully the daisies were doing, until she came along to interfere with things and how this is the same thing we do to ourselves on a regular basis - interfere with the natural unfolding of life by thinking we've got to take control.
Her daisy chain story brought to mind a memory from last spring when something in me gave way and I experienced, it felt like for the very first time, the true meaning and power of surrender.
I'd booked two nights in a tower in a beautiful local village and had planned to run a mini-retreat for a coaching client but when it became clear that I wasn't going to fill the space in time, I decided to go along myself.
Arriving, I went straight up to the top floor of the Tower and put on one of the CDs I found up there. I sat down in one of the chairs and sobbed my little Leah heart out. I guess the universe knew I needed my own retreat.
The next day, I went down to the sea and settled myself into one of the little rocky coves. I lay on the rocks, basking in the warm spring sunshine. I remember feeling utterly empty that day, like there was nothing at all left inside. I also remember struggling with that feeling for some time, still trying to find my way out of it and into a solution.
I guess, in the end, I was so tired of holding on that I had to let go. It felt a bit like having a trap door inside you and a mini-you standing on top of that trap door and all of a sudden the trap door opens and you have no choice but to fall down, down, down, to wherever it leads.
It leads somewhere soft and quiet and still. Surrender. It's not something you do. It's not even something you allow. It's literally something that gives way. And when you land at the bottom, you're asking yourself, 'Why couldn't I do this sooner?', because it feels so good and so safe down there, right down on the ground. You've given up completely. Maybe in a resigned sort of way. Or maybe in a 'Here, God, here, Universe - I clearly don't know what I'm doing so I'm handing it all over to you' sort of a way.
This is peace. A complete end to resistance and a full acceptance of what is. There is so much safety in this place. I still felt absolutely empty but it was a very different sort of empty to the empty I'd felt when I first arrived at the cove. A kind of full empty, if you know what I mean? An empty that was pregnant with the infinite possibilities of life.
A little while later, heading back over the fields in a somewhat dream-like state, I noticed a National Trust van parked near the gate leading back onto the road. It's funny, but I stopped and looked at it a few moments, thinking how nice it looked against the green grass. As I turned towards the gate, I noticed a man walking towards me. As he came closer, I also happened to notice he was decidedly good-looking.
Exchanging greetings, I asked what work he'd been doing. He told me he'd spent the morning counting wild orchids.
Obviously I kept my cool but inside I was like, 'Are you kidding me and...are you single?'
We chatted for quite some time, about wild orchids and such like, but then he had to head off to make his next appointment taking a group of school children pond dipping. No but seriously! Swoon swoon.
Walking back along the lane towards the Tower, where Elizabeth Gaskell had stayed to work on some of her novels, I couldn't help but feel that my brief encounter had been a direct result of my coming to my knees before life and saying, 'You do it.'
It felt so true to me that day and it has felt more and more true in the days since, that the less I interfere with life, the better life gets and the easier life flows. Unfortunately, I'm a reluctant learner and quite often forget that life, God, the Universe or whatever else you like to call it, is way better in the driving seat than I ever will be.
Our problem, it seems to me, is that we feel ourselves to be the dreamers of life, the ones needing to make things happen. But we are not the dreamers, but the dream. And if we could only touch that knowing, we could stop blocking the beauty that is always trying to dance its way into existence.
Love and courage,