As I sit down to write, a gentle, heavy, wet snow is falling outside my office windows. It’s that kind of heavy, wet snow that sticks to every branch and twig and, within a very short time, creates a winter wonderland. It is still and quiet, beautiful and peaceful. It’s as if time has stopped. Yet the snow continues to deepen, so time must be passing. Mornings like this are one of the gifts of the New England winter.
Just a few weeks ago, I was in the tropical jungle of Thailand – quite a contrast to this snowy New England morning! I wrote about that very rich experience last week, focusing primarily on the great gifts available to us if we are willing to step beyond our habitual context of time and allow something beyond our “plans” and “expectations” to happen. I was in the jungle with a European team to work on a project. Although we had a goal in mind, we also practiced letting the moment show us what was next. The results were rewarding and fulfilling, both for the project and for us as individuals.
This morning, as I look out into the incredible beauty and stillness all around me, my thoughts return to my experiences with time in Thailand. And then my thoughts go to all that has been happening in my life and work since I returned home. The best word that I have in this moment to summarize what seems to be going on inside of me is “stretch.”
Being in the jungle and on Rachaprabha Lake took me back to a deep stillness that I hadn’t touched in a while. Ever since then, I continue to rest in that stillness. However, at the same time, my calendar continues to get even more full. New doors and opportunities are opening, and there is a lot going on in my life and work.
Therein lies the “stretch.”
Deep inside, the movement of time is almost imperceptible, while on the outside, time is moving very fast. I’m learning about stretching even further into the stillness and wisdom that lies deep within the heart of my being. And at the same time, I’m learning to stretch even further out into the world as a steward of Transformational Presence and its message.
This “stretch,” of course, is not a one-time thing. It’s an ongoing, life-long learning experience. The two ends of the “stretch” spectrum appear to be opposites, yet the opposites need each other. All of the introspection and reflection in the world is not going to actually get things done. Yet if I get caught up in “doing” mode without taking time for introspection and reflection, I can easily lose my sense of purpose and direction. I’m just busy getting things done.
Furthermore, it’s in the deep stillness that I find the clarity, and yes, even the strategy, for moving forward. I stretch deep inside for discovery and awareness, and then stretch outside, often beyond my comfort zone, to put my new discoveries and awareness into action. The experience of my outer action brings learning and growth, which, in turn, gives the stillness more to work with. Life becomes a constant dance of stretching deep inside, and then way outside, and then back inside – and on and on it goes.
British theosophist and spiritualist Paul Brunton, author of A Search in Secret India, wrote:
Let us accept the invitation, ever open, from
the Stillness, taste its exquisite sweetness,
and heed its silent instruction.
Beautiful instructions for the “stretch.” 1) Go deep inside to the stillness and quiet. 2) Taste and sense its exquisite sweetness as fully as you are capable of in the moment. 3) Heed its guidance and direction and take your next steps.
After you have taken those steps, once again stretch back into the stillness – maybe even a little further this time. Listen. Sense. Feel. Intuit. And then, back you go into the world, maybe even stretching yourself a little further as you move into action.
As you keep practicing, you can learn to stretch into the entire spectral line. You can learn to live in the deep stillness of the inner world and, at the same time, be fully engaged in the outer world. It may not happen today, or even this week or this year. It’s a life-long practice. Yet this practice is the path to living your greatest potential – to taking the fullest expression of who you are and why you are here out into the world.
The “stretch.” This is Transformational Presence. It’s a way of being that can change the world.
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