I put out a prayer, of sorts, to be open as I went on my walk that morning. It was about 8:00 am, a crisp, sunny day at the end of October, almost a year ago. About three weeks into the realization that my partner and I were breaking up. I was seeking guidance, making a request for help. If I’m honest and vulnerable, what I was feeling was rejection.
As I walked down the steep driveway of the house I used to live in (which is shaded by the neighbor’s shed next door), I felt lonely, cold and sad. When I stepped out into the street to begin my walk, I was surprised by the sudden contrast of the immediate warmth of the sun. It was like being swaddled in a blanket of comfort as the heat soaked into my skin. I felt it completely. I thought about what I had just asked for. I came so alive in that moment that it made me cry. Here was the answer to my prayer: love is as abundant as the sunshine, always available to me, every day. Whether I feel it or not, the sun shines down.
I let the light lead me. As I walked, and at times ran, to the next patch of sun peeking through the oak trees that line the streets of my old neighborhood, I was conscious of seeking and receiving its warmth.
At a small tree in someone’s front yard, I noticed the rays streaking down at me in chambers created by the leaves, an image that has always had spiritual significance to me (see the post Rain AND Shine from a few weeks ago). I can’t look directly at the sun because it is too bright and strong, but I can see columns of diffuse light rays and appreciate them. Just like with the Divine, there are not adequate words and I can’t take it all in. But what I am able to glimpse and grasp has meaning and is more than enough to fill me up.
By now I had reached Latta Park and was made aware of the maple trees. They were a vision of beauty that morning, turning orange and red as they do in the fall. The sun was dramatically backlighting their leaves, making them glow and brighten. I was experiencing how easy it is to exist in the gift of being alive. Nature is rich and generous, a gentle guide that activates and engages all of my senses, which in turn, makes me feel spry and connected. Like a little moth, I was drawn from patch to patch of light in its myriad expressions, feeling and taking in the brightness, warmth and touch of heat each time I stepped back into the direct sunlight and out of the shade of the trees. Skin is such a wonderful organ, a sensitive covering that enables sensation. My head, face, hands and shins, not being clothed, were free to absorb the abundance of what the sun offered up that morning.
As walked onto the soccer field behind St. Patrick’s church, I was in full sunshine, as there are no trees. At the end of the field I reluctantly accepted the half-point of my route, aware that I was running out of time and needed to get back home to shower and go to work. As I turned around, I then felt the sun on my back for the first time that morning. This awareness immediately made me think, “The sun has my back. This is what support literally feels like.”
I also saw my shadow and it brought to mind the ideas of Carl Jung. Jung was an early psychoanalyst who expanded on Freud’s theory of the personality. The theory proposes that our shadow is the unconscious aspect of the self. While our conscious ego tends to reject or deny the least desirable aspects of our being, this construct is not completely negative and Jung argued that the shadow is also the seat of our creativity. As such, my shadow has a lot to show me and I want to be open to what I need to see about all aspects of myself.
I playfully took Amy Cuddy’s advice (watch her presentation on Ted Talks, Your body shapes who you are) and stood like Wonder Woman, looking at my long shadow stamped on the grass. I could almost see the cape that I wasn’t wearing fluttering behind me. My sadness had long dissipated and changed throughout the walk into a profound sense of gratitude and joy. I felt now as if I was stepping into strength. As I started to move, my shadow, of course, moved with me, and that felt reassuring. At one point in my return walk home, my silhouette was reflected on a brick wall I was walking along side of, and it was an enactment and reminder of the relationship I have with myself. I was being walked with, not alone or rejected at all. And in a broader and spiritual sense, I was keenly aware of “the Sun” having my back and how it cast and created my image.
It’s hard to put this experience into words, but I like trying. Over the last few days, I’ve been rewriting this post from my journal entry from a year ago. As I got ready to go to a yoga class this morning, the Beatles song, “Here Comes the Sun” started playing in my head, making me smile. And just guess what song my yoga teacher picked for her playlist (she chooses different songs and routines each week and has never played this one before)? Indeed, here comes the sun, little darling, and I say it's all right.