Today’s blog is about the times in our lives where the old is or has passed away and the new has not yet been revealed. It is the time to enter into the darkness of the unknown and to invite classical mythology to inform us of how to be present to the waiting.
Turn Turn Turn
There comes a time in everyone’s life when what we thought we knew about ourselves, our purpose, our destiny, who we thought we knew ourselves to be…..suddenly either comes to an end, or proves to no longer be true. Maybe we have forsaken single life for marriage, quit our jobs to have children, sent our children out into the world, retired from our jobs, lost the employment that has been our source of meaning and perceived security. Whatever the circumstance, what we have known comes to an end and we are left there to wonder…..NOW WHAT? This is the season in our lives when the harvest is complete and the earth lies fallow. In mythology, this season is represented by Persephone’s journey into the Underworld her mother, Demeter’s, raging and mournful response as she refuese to plant anything new. Wisdom tells us that this is a time of waiting, being quiet, contemplating.
Raging and Mourning
Like Demeter, we have no choice but to wait through the fallow season for Persephone’s return. There is a season to plant….and this is not it. We cannot force nature (or our life’s journey) to do something out of season. So we wait and show up to what does present itself for tending. As Demeter’s story reveals, it may also be a time of grieving – a time to mourn the passing of the old and to rage over the disappointment and frustration over the loss, to wag our finger of blame at Hades for stealing our light (Persephone) away, and to scream in impatient expectation for the arrival of something meaningful, fulfilling and prosperous. While mythology usually stops at Demeter’s perspective on the tale, I believe there is something that Persephone has to teach us about this fallow time as well.
In the traditional tale, Persephone spends nine months in the world journeying with and assisting her mother in planting, tending and harvesting the bounty of nature. The other three months, she spends in Hades, “cursed” because she ate three pomegranite seeds in her first journey there which condemns her to this time in the Underworld. What we often forget about the Persephone story, however, is how she spends her time in the Underworld. Persephone’s time in the Underworld is not a punishment, instead, it is a reward for her hard work, a time to rest and enjoy the fruits of her labors. It is a time to feast, to make merry and to enjoy great sex with Hades. 😉 While Demeter is wallowing in self-pity, mourning and raging over this time of separation from her daughter, Persephone is partying away in the Underworld. I think there is a lesson in this for us. While it is important to grieve the things we have lost and to mourn the falling away of what we have known, it is equally important to give ourselves permission to rest from our labors, to celebrate the work we have done and to enjoy the feasting and merriment that could be part of this fallow time….if we choose it.
Where in your life have you experienced fallow times, the ending of an era and a time of waiting for the new?
How have you responded to these times of transition?
How did you grieve? How did you allow yourself to enjoy the time of rest?