taking flight takes courage...

As if the lower back aches and pains were not evidence enough - or the snow white and silver hair - a picture posted on FB this morning puts it all into perspective:  today is Louie's first day of school in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

I can remember with vividness his mother's first day of school back in Saginaw, MI. She wore a red corduroy jumper, a white blouse and a green tweed sports coat. She carried her vegetarian lunch in a small Army green back back. There were reddish Buster Brown shoes on her feet as well as white tights. I cried that morning - a mixture of joy, sorrow, anxiety and hope. And I found tears in my eyes this morning seeing my grandson's first day at school picture, too. So many big and competing feelings, yes? 
This aging business is complicated - I love it and sometimes fear it - knowing there is nothing I can do to stop it. This is truly the season for practicing letting go. As Christine Painter wrote earlier this week: 

Autumn is the time of transition, of the earth's turning, with the balance of light and dark in the northern hemisphere tilting toward the dark season and the invitation to release the excess we carry and rest into growing Mystery. It is a season of initiating these great movements across the globe of birds, fish, and mammals following an instinctual call.

I am taken with the mysteries of migration, the inner knowing that rises up in them to embark on a journey, the impulse to swim and fly across great expanses of earth and sea in search of a feeling of rightness that season.

I think of the ancient desert monks who each knew that one day they would have to leave behind the familiar and venture out into the wilderness to seek a space of radical encounter with God. Or the Irish monks who felt called to a particular kind of journey called peregrinatio, which was a pilgrimage for the love of Christ without a destination in mind. The practice was to step into a small boat called a coracle, without oar or rudder, and let the current carry them to the place of their resurrection. They yielded their own agendas and plans to the current of love, trusting in this deeper wisdom at work in water and wind, on behalf of the One who opens the way before us.
So Louie goes to school, we leave to celebrate the marriage of a young woman I first met 20 years ago in Tucson. It is the anniversary of Dianne's father's death 15 years ago and the passing of my own dad just about 2 years ago this week. Sensing some of these transitions - as well as our journey in a few hours - Lucie remained glued to my hip last night. She, too, is aging, no longer the screwy little puppy who would sleep on my boot. Painter closes her reflection with words that speak to this moment in my own soul's migration:

In the Christian contemplative tradition, we are invited to rest more deeply in the Great Mystery, to lay aside our images and symbols, and let the divine current carry us deeper, without knowing where, only to trust the impulse within to follow a longing. As autumn tilts us toward the season of growing darkness, consider this an invitation to yield to the mystery of your own heart's desires. You do not need a map or agenda, simply a willingness to swim in the waters carrying you back home again.

The monks knew the wisdom of embracing a season of unknowing, to wrest from their grip the idols of certainty and security. As mythologist and storyteller Michael Meade says, "a false sense of security is the only kind there is." Of the new things happening you have known nothing until this moment. Taking flight requires courage to ascend into the unfamiliar and unknown.


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