David Steindl-Rast: May we never forget the crippled, wind-beaten trees, how they, too, bud, green and bloom

 

May we never forget the crippled, wind-beaten trees, how they, too, bud, green and bloom. May we, too, take courage to bloom where we are planted.

– Brother David Steindl-Rast

Everything in nature – plants, animals, ecosystems – quietly accepts their condition and circumstances and makes the best out of it.

We are part of nature. This is in us as well.

And because we are so fascinated by our thoughts, we sometimes get sidetracked. We get caught up in ideas of how it could have been or should have been, and mentally fight with what is.

Sometimes, one of the things most difficult for us humans is to remember and rediscover what all of nature, except us, already know and do, and what’s in our nature or know and do. And that is to bud, green, and bloom where we are planted, with the conditions and circumstances that are here.

After the initial struggle, most of us are able to make the best out of our circumstances. We haven’t completely forgotten. We know it makes sense. And yet, many of us also spend a good deal of time and energy on mentally fighting with what is.

I like that Steindl-Rast uses the word courage. It does take courage to shift out of this mental battle and instead allow what’s here. (It’s already allowed by life and here so it’s the only thing that makes sense.) It’s a kind of betrayal of old (apparently) useless mental dynamics learned from our parents and culture. It’s the courage to be as the rest of nature.

Acceptance and commitment

 
From the Optimum Health Clinic

This video is a reminder of the importance of acceptance and commitment if we want to change. He talks about chronic fatigue (CFS), and it also applies to change in general.

How does acceptance look to me? And specifically in the context of CFS?

I am more honest with myself about my situation. I let it sink in. I live according to my situation. (I make plans, regulate my activity etc. according to the limits and possibilities of living with a serious illness.) I also take care of (care for) the emotions and fears coming up in me when I am more honest with myself about my situation.

And how does commitment look?

I am committed to finding improvement. To explore best practices. Work with someone who has a good track record in helping people with CFS and uses a grounded and integral approach. Implement their recommendations. Stay with it. Make adjustments as I learn more and see what works for me.

I find it interesting to look at the comments to this video. Some comments (almost all as of writing this) seem a bit reactive and express something like “are you telling me I am not committed? I have been fighting this illness for years!”.

We may wish to heal, we may be distressed about it (sad, angry, hopeful, disappointed), we may try a lot in order to heal, but that’s different than acceptance and commitment. For instance, the word “fighting” in itself implies a lack of acceptance and an orientation that can get in the way of a deeper commitment.

To me, acceptance and commitment are quiet, deep, and gives a direction over the long term. And it’s an ongoing process, at least for me.

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Acceptance vs love

 

Some folks talk about acceptance, and there is something to it. At the same time, it can sound a little lukewarm and perhaps hiding a secret resistance and grudge.

What about love?

If there is no acceptance or love for what is, it’s because of images and thoughts I have that are taken as true. They are still uninvestigated. And as I investigate these thoughts, there is more clarity, and love is revealed. What thoughts previously called bad, wrong or unfortunate are now revealed as love. The responses these beliefs triggered in me – anger, sadness, grief, fear, frustration, resistance – are revealed as love. These labels, which may also appear not quite true, are revealed as love. The identification with these thoughts and images are revealed as love.

In this context, acceptance – as resistance – is a brilliant pointer. It points me to what’s left.