Unraveling

(From Brainstorms)


In the beginning,

there was love.

And we saw that it was good.


Our beginning held hope

as our paths entwined,

allowing us to walk

hand in hand

down the road for a time.


With a knot at one end

rooting us,

our strands wound tighter

with each of us reaching further

to try to meet at the other end,

finding that the harder we pulled,

the more unyielding the rope,

as though rigid under the pressure

of its own resistance.


But now,

when I let go,

relax my pull,

the fibers loosen,

edges fray, and the jute

begins to separate from its mate.


The strands become distinct

until it is easy to distinguish

the one from the other.


Like a spring coiled tight

and suddenly released,

the two yarns unravel

with a quickening speed,

ease and fluidity,


revealing that they are each

strong enough

to stand on their own.

My morning ritual these days is to take our new puppy, Cookie, out to the side yard for an early morning snuggle-play and for her to do her business. I usually sit in the same spot facing the canyon, but this past week a friend moved out of town and left some patio furniture with me, so I had a cozy new sitting nook under the branches of a tree.


As Cookie wandered away from me, my gaze landed on a sprig of green sprouting from the pebbled ground in front of my feet. I reached down to pull it out and found it released from the soil with just a gentle tug. I was expecting the root to come with the sprout and it did, but something else was attached, something that looked like a little, brown ball of dirt. When I went to flick it away, I realized it wasn’t dirt; it was the seed.


I pluck sprouts from this area all the time, and it’s never happened before that I’ve pulled up a seed with the weed. I spent a few minutes trying to wrap my head around this precious beginning I held in my hand, feeling the tough shell, noting the fracture from which both the root and the shoot had emerged.


I felt a sort of sadness as I ran my fingers down the tendrils of the root. In pulling up this errant sprig, I had ended the potential life that was stored inside this seed. In the same moment, I felt a sense of awe that here I was, on a Saturday morning, holding the possibility of creation in my hand.


I was also amazed by the synchronicity. In just a few hours, I would be co-facilitating a retreat on compassion. In our preparation, my colleagues and I had decided to focus the retreat on the theme of emergence and to use metaphors of gardening, composting, and spreading seeds as we created space to tend to the emotions of the past year. Perhaps it was more than a lucky coincidence that on this morning I sat in a new chair with this sprout at my feet. Perhaps this seed could become an offering, a symbol of the process we would begin during the retreat.


I took the plant inside, found a glass jar, filled it with water, placed the roots in the jar, and set the jar by the candle next to my computer. As the retreat began, I shared my story of uprooting this sprout. Later in the day, a woman in the retreat said that she was moved by the synchronicity of the seed as well. She told us that has been noticing a pattern of uprooting, both among the trees in her area and in a more metaphysical sense. "We are being uprooted from what we thought was solid and familiar and safe, from a sense of normalcy," she observed. "How can we bring consciousness to the process of uprooting?"


I’ve been wondering something similar as I contemplate the word dis-integration, which has been haunting me lately. Sometimes words do that to me—they arrive like a messenger and take hold in my mind until I acknowledge what they’ve come to teach me. So I’ve been paying attention to what I might learn about dis-integrating, teasing out pieces of the whole in order to examine the component parts. What's thriving and what's ready to be weeded out? What seeds have been planted and what wishes are beginning to sprout? I don’t pretend to have answers, but lately I’ve been finding a lot of wisdom in asking questions and being open to guidance from unexpected places, like a seed in a garden or a frayed rope.