the sweet balance of in between

comments 2
poetry / Rumi / spirituality

I’ve been on this spiritual path, whatever that is, for some time now and it has largely been a consistently gradual upward and forward movement. Within the past year I had the pleasure of experiencing quite a burst of spiritual energy and connectedness. I can’t say exactly what accounts for it. I do have a few ideas but that’s another topic for another day.

After this intense period of increasing spiritual awareness, I began to feel a disconnect of sorts a few months ago. Again, not entirely sure why but I also have a few ideas about that. But then, I have a few ideas about a lot of things. Or a lot of ideas about a few things. Whatever, you get the point. I’ve got a lot of mind chatter!

The truth is, I found this disconnect profoundly disturbing. I did not like it one bit. It was a little like the color draining from my world, but not quite so dramatic. Maybe more like the color draining from my favorite pair of shoes. Tragic but not a tragedy.

It just felt like something was missing. Yet, I knew it was there, intellectually speaking, which really one should never do where Spirit is concerned. But I digress.

At no point did I question my connectedness. I knew that no matter what we do, we are always worthy and always connected. To Spirit. To each other. To the universe. To ourselves. To the mosquito we just swatted. (chew on that! not really. mosquitoes are gross.)

However, I did not feel connected. I felt completely alone some days, even in rooms full of people. I would say the words, speaking of connectedness as though I was actively experiencing it at the time. It was just words. It was me dancing the steps but completely without any heart. I don’t dance without heart! It was a foreign feeling. Prior to experiencing that period of higher sensitivity, I didn’t know there was a whole other level to this thing. This time I knew exactly what I was missing and its disappearance took the wind right out of my sails. (Is anyone keeping track of all these metaphors?)

I was deflated. (and another one!) Everything became harder. I found meditating almost as difficult as when I first attempted it many years ago. I continued to “act as if” but it didn’t feel authentic.

Then I ran across the Rumi poem, “Birdwings”:

“Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.”

It took my breath away. This poem served to show that I was too attached to the flow and was fighting the ebb of life. The tide cannot be locked in a high state any more than it can be locked in a low state. But low tide sure does stink, literally and figuratively! So it’s no great mystery why we do not prefer it. Why we turn away.

After considering the sweet balance that can be found “in between”, I began to see other quotes and images that served to remind me of this ever more. I even started to apply what I know about birds.

I swear this really is not a blog about birds, but it’s starting to look that way…

As we all know, it is the downward thrust of the wings, coupled with a pushing down of the legs that lifts the bird to fly.

Our soaring will happen, but we must push down to lift up. Pushing down feels like work. Because it is. We think of expanded wings as the position of power, but really that is a position of rest and trust. The real power is in the push. Ground then soar.

Even mid-flight birds will push down on air currents…so here is the ultimate trick: staying grounded while soaring! If that’s too much for now, appreciating the two as separate moments and separate momentums is enough. Give the push all that you have and then rest in the soaring. Savor each action or inaction for what it is. Soon enough you will have the other again.

I cannot say that everything has completely turned around for me. Rather I would say that it is still shifting but it is shifting. I am finding a returning ease in meditation and other such things. I find I am no longer “acting as if” but am genuinely lighthearted. Slowly but most assuredly, here’s the joyful face I’ve been wanting to see.


Love and Light,

Links and Credits:

Photo credit
Steve Oehlenschlager/ShutterStock

“Birdwings” from The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barkes with John Moyne

The Author

I am a dancing, arrow-flinging yogini from the South, but I live in the Pacific Northwest. I just like to keep things interesting. ;)


  1. Abbie says

    Beautiful writing, and I love your metaphoring. Yes, life is a paradox, and for me gardening so exemplifies not only the cyclic nature of existence, but also the importance of resting in the potential instead of being frustrated by it and feeling the need to always be “doing, ” i.e. the field is richest after lying fallow. Keep writing, Holly, please keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Abbie love, you are so sweet. I’m so glad we reconnected.

    I really like what you have to say here. You are right that gardening is a perfect metaphor. I even have something stuck to my bathroom mirror right now to remind me that the seed is my teacher. Patience prepares. I can be so patient about things like traffic, standing in lines, or other such hassles. My impatience roars though when I feel ready for something that is not happening yet. Two years ago I asked for more fulfilling friendships. Almost immediately the Universe swept the poor choices out of my life. Seriously, like within days. Not even a week. So the ground was tilled and turned. A couple of flowers bloomed shortly after, but what has been most amazing is these two trees that were in my “field” (to borrow your metaphor) that I really hadn’t noticed to the degree they deserved. Now they are my two besties here in WA and they bring me so much laughter. So yes, the fallow ground prepares us for what is to come. It also can enable us to see what was there all along… I love this metaphor! Thank you!

    Thanks again for your kind words. They absolutely mean the world to me to have so many encouraging, supportive people around me. Love you!


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