The Art of Surrendering

Feb 9, 2015 by

The other day I was walking my dog in the woods, which I like to do even in the dead of winter. It is peaceful in the winter woods, calm and quiet. I find it conducive to deep contemplation.

 

And sometimes deep hilarity.

 

 

Even though I resist winter and whine and complain about it,I secretly like the inward turning aspect of it. I hibernate a bit. I like solitude in the winter and crave my alone time.

 

I was enjoying the monochrome aspect of the colors the winter woods. There isn’t much color to be had, so any variations in the shades of brown and gray stand out, making mosaic work out of the trees, sky and the ground.

 

The starkness and structure of the tree branches, bare of their leaves pleases me. You can see the bones of the trees in a way that you can’t when they are wild and leaf covered. There is nothing hidden in the winter and all is revealed.

 

It was in this mood that I was walking through the Parklands, contemplating winter, stillness and the art of surrender. The weather helped my mood by being cold, gray and doing something that here in New England we can only call “precipitation.”

 

This wet, cold stuff is hard to classify. It’s too hard and freezing for actual rain. And too slushy and wet for actual snow.

 

Row?  Snain?  Sleet is closer, but too needle icy for this slushy stuff.  Hail is too bouncy. So we just lump it all together into the loosely wet and cold category of“precipitation.”

 

Surrender is an interesting theme and I was chewing it over while the precipitation was creeping under my coat, around the tops of my boots and sliding down the back of my neck.

 

I was surrendering to the weather in New England in winter,which we all know builds character. It’s like an immovable object, there is no getting around it. I was feeling around the hard edges of my life too and leaning into them with the same surrendering.

 

So many things on my plate that I can’t change. My parents and my kids both in their aging processes. The world turning on its axis. The Patriots winning the Super Bowl. (WOOT! You knew I was going to throw that in somewhere!)  Fate grinding away in the way it does. And I was also feeling into the soft edges where I do have choice,movement and wiggle room.

 

I find a huge amount of relief and heart opening in the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer.

 

 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

 

I was just starting to feel the deep inner peace that comes with meditating on this prayer when my feet slipped out from under me.

 

Perhaps you have experienced what happens when you have precipitation on top of a layer of ice. It was a fabulous reminder about the basic Newtonian reality of our world and the inexorable law of gravity, least I get too Quantum for my britches.

 

I landed with a thud on my backside, in a big, big puddle of precipitation. It was like laying in a little lake. The ripples made by my own self surrendering to gravity lapped against me like waves.

 

I lay there, the breath slightly knocked out of me, in state of total surrender.  More precipitation fell on my face. The dark branches of the trees looked really pretty against the gray sky.

 

I couldn’t get any wetter, so I decided to try the surrender experiment a little longer. I could get mad that I fell in huge puddle (or a small lake) and was now soaking wet, or I could surrender to it.

 

My dog stood over me staring at me like I had gone completely mental. “Are you going to get up now?” wag, wag- one eyebrow up, ears cocked. “People are weird.”

 

 

“Nope,”I said.  “I am surrendering. And talking to my dog.”

 

Surrendering to gravity. Can I feel it pulling me even more down into the earth?  Surrendering to all that I have to in my life. And feeling the little choice points that exist along side the hard edges. It was oddly relaxing and liberating, my little experiment.

 

I was digging it, really leaning into the surrendering part when I heard a gentle and apologetic cough, probably not from my dog.

 

“Um,m’am?  Are you ok?”

 

It was a guy with a dog.  Clearly another dog walking, winter lover, a man of my own ilk. He was leaning over me, concerned.

 

“Uh.Yeah.” I said, which was about as lame a statement as I could come up with.

“I am sorry to bother you, since you looked sort of peaceful laying there in that huge puddle, but I just wanted to make sure you weren’t dead.” He did look really concerned.

 

“I’m fine,” I said. “I fell. I ‘m not dead.” Moving right through lame and into obvious.

 

“Yes,that is what I figured. Are you sure you are ok? Did you hit the back of your head?”  Which would have explained a lot,so I didn’t mind him asking.

 

Our dogs did the butt sniffy doggie greeting and once that was out of the way, they both regarded me with curiosity. “What the heck is the crazy human doing now?”

 

“I am just laying here contemplating my place in the universe and surrendering to it,” I said, resorting to total honesty. “Plus, it was really slippery.”

 

The precipitation felt cool on my face, which was probably blushing like mad. “I just didn’t think there were any witnesses.”

 

He suppressed a smile.

 

“I understand m’am. A winter like this is enough to make you feel humble for sure.”  He paused and wiped a little precipitation from his eyes. “Well, if you’re sure you’re ok, I leave you to your meditations.”

 

And off he went with his dog, a little smile on his face as he no doubt contemplated the oddities of people in general and me in particular.

 

I lay there for a few more minutes before I got up, soaked to the bone with a little lump on the back of my head. I had to laugh. Life is absurd and sometimes surrendering into that and finding the little sweet spots in it is the only way. And I fully surrender to that!

 

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