Monday, November 8, 2010
Honoring the Dark
My friend Donald told me recently that he believes fear is a part of what he calls "sacred rot." He is a gardener who loves not only the beautiful things he grows, but the dirt, too. He calls compost "holy." He really gets the business of decay, how that process feeds the cycles of life.
Here at the very beginning of the dark quarter of the year, thanks to Donald, I'm thinking a lot about sacred rot, holy compost. Once upon a time I looked at all failed projects and endeavors (like my marriage, for instance) as a total waste. Maybe nothing needs to be thought of as a waste, provided I'm willing to sow the seeds of my mistakes into my heart and soul (rather than trying to ignore, detach, or jetison from them). I always thought that learning from my mistakes meant rising above them, but I might have been wrong about that.
What is a mistake? I ask my clients that question all the time, in an effort to lighten their sense of guilt or remorse over choices they've made. I'm looking back on many choices I've made, situations I've fallen into and subsequently out of, relationships that were never meant to be. I've been berating myself for my enthusiasms, but maybe I could stop that way of thinking right now. You think? I'm going to give it a shot.
Mistakes are holy compost, sacred rot. Or ... they CAN be. What a revelation.
ENRICHING THE EARTH
To enrich the earth I have sowed clover and grass
to grow and die. I have plowed in the seeds
of winter grains and of various legumes,
their growth to be plowed in to enrich the earth.
I have stirred into the ground the offal
and the decay of the growth of past seasons
and so mended the earth and made its yield increase.
All this serves the dark. I am slowly falling
into the fund of things. And yet to serve the earth,
not knowing what I serve, gives a wideness
and a delight to the air, and my days
do not wholly pass. It is the mind’s service,
for when the will fails so do the hands
and one lives at the expense of life.
After death, willing or not, the body serves,
entering the earth. And so what was heaviest
and most mute is at last raised up into song.