The Sacred Otherness of Life

I have begun, in partnership with a dear friend and fellow “midlifer,” the practice of “Giving things over to God.”  This is a bit radical for us—and I must say up front, so I don’t scare off any readers—“God” can refer to almost anything in the context of how we are using it.  God could be the mountains and their aura, or Changing Woman, a Goddess from the Native American tradition, or one of the enlightened teachers such as Jesus or Buddha, or the energy of life one sometimes experiences when walking near a creek.

As long as the connotation of “God” is to the “sacred otherness of life”—the way of putting it that I gratefully adopted from David Whyte, poet, author, and walking tour guide extraordinaire. http://www.davidwhyte.com/

It is a good thing that my friend and I are learning to surrender some of our illusions about how much control we actually have over things, and I don’t think we could have gotten here before midlife.

To get to this particular place of “letting go,” we had to have a certain amount and type of experience under our belts, including and in particular, I suspect, the experience of witnessing changes in our bodies that make us feel more physically vulnerable, and in a certain way, more limited.   This mix of life experience and awareness of vulnerability seems to reach a threshold during midlife that allows and perhaps encourages more surrender and the active acceptance of what was previously a thought kept in the back of the mind:  “I cannot make things happen and I can’t be the one who masters and moves all.”

And as is usually the case, life is presenting me many opportunities to practice our new philosophy.  Spring, so ripe with all its possibility, is often a very busy time for me, what with new sports leagues starting up, local creek cleanups being held, school fund raisers and science fairs on the calendar, and spring break vacations to be planned and taken (on top of the regular professional and family work).  I find spring up there with the winter holidays in terms of being stressful, and if I am not careful, spring takes on a feeling of “let’s get through this,” and more tension and less presence runs through my words and actions.

What better time then, than spring, to hand things over to the “sacred otherness of life?”  To do what I can to get organized and make plans, and then allow things to unfold.

And by whatever name we call it, I know that the “sacred otherness” sprung yellow daffodils in my yard last week, and is budding pink apple and cherry blossoms all over town, things that neither my will nor my trying could ever have achieved.

Posted on March 25, 2011, in Midlife Opportunities and Challenges and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Amy Mathews Amos

    Once again Patton, you’ve captured the essence of the midlife experience. Only with health issues that have emerged in my 40’s, and hindsight on my young adulthood could I recognize that not only am I not in control, but that I put so much energy and anxiety into trying to be in control. I find it’s still a constant struggle – our culture almost seems centered on this idea that we should be able to control everything. Stepping away from that is going against the grain.

    I have to comment on the typo (?) in your title: Is there a fear here that led to the title being the “Scared” Otherness of Life rather than the “Sacred” Otherness of Life?

    • Amy, this culture of ours, it is something isn’t it? And thank you for the typo notice, both to allow me to correct it and to think about the possible underlying reasons that it slipped through my typing fingers….All good food for midlife thought!

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