Returning to London from an austere week of silence in Gaia House Devon. I’m trecking back through the city after days of silence. It’s a snow soft transition back into the social organism. I’m in a thick snow storm and Ursula Le Guin’s words from The Dispossessed are haunting me:
“Those who build walls are their own prisoners. I’m going to go fulfil my proper function in the social organism. I’m going to go unbuild walls.”
What a process it is going so deep, and then folding it all within to return to the group in “human” form. The days of silence were hard: becoming aware of my limits, of falsenesses, of the distortions of habitual behaviours, owning waves of anger, grief, annoyance… But when repetitive thoughts and feelings of concern are let go, the inner world reveals itself: so vast and clear, so mysteriously mundane, so loyal in being there and ready to heal what’s got broken up, like a friend worthy of faith.
In the evenings we walked back and forth in a room under the unwavering gaze of a human skull: a real skeleton arranged in a lotus position who presided over the walking room, surrounded by thick waxy green plants in pots. I found this last week that it is possible to walk into fear and brokenness, let go hiding from the constrictions of life and death, welcome passing phases of boredom and discomfort, make room for the darkness as well as the light. In silence you just keep turning towards it all.
It is not a complete process, we can always go deeper. God knows, the process of laying down illusions is a life-long one. Much of what I learnt was utterly simple: simple lessons on navigating energy and time and truth.
The last morning I got up before dawn and tentatively walked out into the darkness not expecting anything except a bracing frost. And yet I’d only gone a few steps before I saw stars blazing through the branches of an old oak. The tree, illuminated and sparkling, held another kind of life, like a hyper-real vital being growing out of the ground of the Universe. I felt relief and a quiet sense of remembrance like a river moving inside me. Not fireworks. Just a quiet sense of flow.
Coming home I have growing curiosity about how we meet the social organism. There’s fresh inspiration to get to work and see my daughter. It feels like the mysteries of our interior depths has this natural function of compelling us into the world: to create and destroy in reciprocity. To tear down the false walls and create what’s missing, and to change through the experience of being with others. And then to return into silence again.
The snow is falling. It is so soft, so gentle, so freezing the hell out of those who have no shelter tonight. This beauty mixed up with the harshness of human life. Staying awake to it all is hard and necessary.
I’m grateful to re-boot, re-tune, go through it, get clear and find the resources to journey through the snow storm to something new.