Allowing on a Late Summer Day

There is a specific slant to the late afternoon sun that floods my living room with a cast-iron butter of deeply heated light. It’s always that last stretch of sunshine that seems to glow the hottest. In the downward arch of day, the fever of collected sunshine gathers like a stove coil around the rim of the sky, flooding the world with heat. That glow itself kicks up a kind of exhaustion, the feeling of every hurried project just aching to be complete. Recently, it seems the close of each day comes with a command: find your completion or, for goodness sake, find some release.

Max Patch

In Appalachian summertime each day marks a creation in progress. The basil leafing out in pairs from where it was last snipped. The sunflower rotating like a mandala from pollen to seed. The bees carrying fulfillment from one flower to another, rubbing their bodies against everything soft and petaled in their path. Every morning it as if the rising of the sun turns on the great hearth of the world and each new creation, stirred of dirt and mineral and rain, is placed within the hearth of the earth to ripen.

Flower Essence Bowl

Throughout the summer months there are so many individual projects, visions and collections, tiny destinies awaiting to be fulfilled. I imagine the sun must be like a pâtissier in the great kitchen of kings, sending out emissaries in every direction to tend the grasshoppers and zinnias and bees. Perhaps the clouds take part as well, gentle assistants roaming over the hillsides to check the cobalt beginnings of the blueberries bushes or tend the heavy branches of peaches. Each cumulus a white haired women, trailing cotton aprons and the tracks of great care.

Just as the embered end of a long day in Summer bring forth an almost overwhelming peak of heat, the last stretch of August can, at times, seem almost impossibly bright and big and full of needs.

Group Sit

Sometimes, in the thickest ring of a day, I’m just able to keep up. Matching my pace with the flowers expanding ever-wider, the vines finding new perch, or the grasses that risebefore your eyes like well-leavened bread. But then, just as the sun begins to ease back towards the horizon it is as if someone finally opens the door to the oven of the world, to halt all of creation at its peak. The earth floods with a deep heat and everything living is given the signal that it is okay, okay now, to nod your head like the sunflower. It’s okay to give up creating for a moment. To take oneself out of the furnace and find a peck of shade. To put your feet in the creek, to allow yourself some peace.

Perhaps, all along, summer has been the ripest season for such reprieve.

Altar at Max Patch

We often see high Summer and the dead of Winter as opposite wings on the wheel of the year but the truth is that they have more in common than we might imagine. Like the Yin and Yang, anything that is opposite also holds the other within it. The essence of Winter, and its demand for rest, recuperation and the regathering of vision, is flecked like mica throughout the high summer months. In Winter, we rest because there is nothing to plant but dreams. In high Summer, there is a similar pause. At the hottest peak of the day, there is often nothing to do but take our well-mixed creations out of the oven. Let them cool on the windowsill and give ourselves a moment of quiet regeneration and soulful reprieve.

The Queen 2

Summer as a time of rest is almost unheard of around these parts. For all those that garden or homestead it can feel as though the tasks are never-ending. And even those who don’t tend the land seem to fill their coffers with well-intended parades of vacation, work projects, or pie making, but the end result is often the same. We pray for Autumn to come so we can receive a break from the break.

Like the waterfall buzz of cicadas, the high-whine rush of summer always seems be repeating the need for growth. We see the sunflowers grow twice our height in the span of a month, the grass following quickly behind, and there is some deep internal nudging inside of us that says. You, too, must grow so tall, so quickly, so fast! In high summer, however, there comes a natural time when all our bustling projects fall flat. Like seltzer water left out on a sunlit patio. Try as we might (and, to be sure, we try mightly!) we never get quite enough done as these long sunny days would suggest. And perhaps this is when we should simply it let all fall like the head of a blossom gone to fruit and seed.

Passionflower at Sunset

This Summer I have had dedicated myself to practicing the art of relaxation. At the beginning of this summer I contracted Lyme disease (for the second time in two years) and so, very quickly, my attention to plans, both bold and bland, fell away. Rest became my most important prerogative; I went seeking the mica speck of Yin amongst the overwhelming sunshine of Yang. Most afternoons, when the heat reaches its peak, you can find me lounging in bed (the darkest and coolest room of the house) with a tall glass of chilled tulsi tea and a good book. Some days this Summer this was about all I could manage. And it was enough.

This season, I find myself asking new questions. What if we can find our fulfillment in long tides of rest? What if, going even deeper into the season, means finding stillness in the rush of summersong? What if, the most profound lesson of all is to be able to bask in that mirror of Yin within the Yang? And what happens when our entire structure of To-Do lists collapse in the face of allowing ourselves something the nectar seekers never once deny themselves– good old fashioned contentment.

Contentment

// Allowing Contentment //

Every day, in every way, we are all trying. Trying to weed the garden, or get dinner on the table, or find the love of our life, or heal our heartbreak. We try to be better, be happy, to take care of ourselves. Some days I think we are the only beings in all of creation who try so hard! The sunflowers in my garden dwarf me, but not once did they ever stop to try to be magnificent. They simply took in their surroundings and grew. The hummingbird tests each fushia flower and never once grows frustrated. Even the ants, those who work to rebuild their colonies with each overturned stone, go about with a dedication that excludes even the option of trying. They are simply doing what they must. It makes me wonder, what would happen if we stopped trying, like the sun in its last sling of heat easing in the horizon, and simply allowed ourselves to move in natural ways of contentment.

Allowing is a difficult concept for most of us to swallow. Allowing doesn’t mean comprising your goals, your dignity even your boundaries. It means making space for what is. And when we allow for exactly what is, doing what needs to be done without telling ourselves that we are trying to do it, we make the space we need to truly live.

Sunflower heights

After I was diagnosed with Lyme disease this summer I was left with one simple goal. How can I enjoy, I mean truly, enjoy myself. How can I be so filled with my own contentment, that spilling fullness of life, that there is room for little else in my body but more own vital vigor, my own zest for life?

On the days when all I can do is lie in bed with my books and watch the fan whirl, I embrace allowing. There is no trying in this moment, only the sense of doing what I must. It has been rough in patches, I won’t lie. But over my time spent in bed this summer I have learned something incredible.

Juliet's Garden Flower basket

Allowing is the gateway to loving what is, yes, but it is also the gateway to embracing exactly who (and where) you are. And when you can love that person, and all her needs for quietude and nourishment and podcasts and comfy pillows then you can accept almost anything. Including the slow tendriled creep of healing back into your life.

Self love is a term that is often thrown around, but not fully embraced. And frankly, it can feel incredibly difficult to try to love oneself. And so I say, stop trying and instead, on this hot and humid day, simply allow yourself the pleasure of finding contentment. Contentment is a gateway to recognizing yourself in your most peaceful form. It is a way of being receptive to oneself and ones destiny. And it feels so damn good.

Tea

So, for today, I ask you. What brings you contentment? Can you take yourself away from the To-Dos for an afternoon and let yourself be like summer scones just out of the oven. Sighing, resting, sweetening before your eyes. Because this is the truth that is sung by the hearth and the oven, the fire and the sun itself. Creation never becomes complete until it is taken from the heat and allowed, with time and space and tender breath, to let go of the hubbub of transmutation and find its final shift into peace. After all, this— the cooling, the rest, the reprieve— is what makes any fresh baked delicacy ready to dined upon. And what makes that banquet of being alive so very delicious indeed.

Mandala

33 Comments

  • Inspirational as always, Asia. In a movie I saw when much younger, a priest living among denizens of the Arctic Circle said, “Contentment is everywhere or it is nowhere.” He was soon put to the test as an small island of ice carried him into Baffin Bay.

    • You are such a rich library of interesting stories Rick! I simply love this. And if I ever run into this priest up in the Arctic I will tell him I think this quote just about captures all of everything.

  • Your words are so poetic. I could read them for days. Your pics are breathtaking too. In my end of the world, winter is drawing to a close and I feel I’ve has similar lessons in ‘allowing’ in recent months.

    • Thank you Jodi! And many blessings on the drawstring close of your Winter season. May the coming of Spring bless you with much gentleness of being, and fair bit of relaxation too! <3

  • so beautiful. I found your post through Little Red Tarot, and thank you so much for writing this. I’m here in Austin, TX and was just feeling very similar. The heat does force a stop, a slow down, a pause. It’s the siesta of the soul. I’m definitely going to continue reading.

    • Thank you for your visit Katie! I must check out Little Red Tarot, thanks for the connection! <3 As synchronicity would have it I just put a visit to Austin, TX on my schedule for mid-September. I've never had the pleasure of visiting this vivid city before, and I'm elated. I'll be offering a workshop on September 13th called Dreamskills – an exploration of the importance of these midnight missives and shamanic dreamwork techniques through the lovely La Abeja herbs there if you or any dreamers you know are interested! <3 Sending sweet summer blessings

  • What a pleasure to read this post. I have been thinking the same thing about the tremedous power in letting go. I have a small staph infection in my knee (this is the third time it has been back in the last 5 years). I have been treating it naturally with flowers and instead of having the mindset of fighting it…This time I am letting go. Letting go to let my body be what it is meant to be. Healthy and free from illness. It is almost gone. I am also looking at what it is back to teach me that I did not learn the first couple times.

    To me it feels like the power of letting go to what is, is much more powerful then the push. Like the power in a huge ocean wave vs. the power of a rain drop.

    Thank you for your post!!! Wishing you abundant health.

    • Sending you much healing love + light Jodi. I am joining you in your powerful decision to let go! oof, healing is a journey! I truly honor you and your body’s wisdom. Oh ad I love the analogy of the ocean wave vs. the rain drop. Yes, it all begins with a single drop! Much love <3

  • Just stumbled upon your posts through a link on Pinterest, and found myself drawn in by your writing. Your words, your imagery, kept me reading post after post, and it was as if I had been denied oxygen for a long time and have only just been able to breathe deeply again–so beautiful, so vital, so /true/ and bright.

    Sharing your thoughts on the necessity of rest and simply letting go echoed what I have only recently been learning with my own years of struggling with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. It’s been only in the past year or so that I’ve even tried to simply let my body tell me what it needs, and to try loving me and accepting me for myself, something that was always hard for me to do, that I’ve been able to find some healing, and to feel better than I have in over 20 years. It seems that it’s easier to care for others than to care for ourselves, and our selves get set aside and ignored until we don’t recognize them any more, don’t they?

    Thank you for reminding all of us that if we love our families, our friends, our world, we need to love ourselves, to take care of ourselves too so that we can be able to give them the love and care they deserve.

    Sending you lots of warm wishes and good energy in your healing journey!

    • Thank you for sharing Brenda, and for the bright aliveness of your own beautiful words and thoughts. And yes, it never fails to surprise me how hard it can be to give oneself true care! It can be so much easier to offer that to others, but I think that’s part of the journey… we are relearning (in so many ways) how to love. And I agree, it starts with us. Thank you for your wise and eloquent comment <3

  • Your stories and photographs are like a lighthouse for my ship, a warm cabin in the woods for my travelling feet. They connect with and ignite a deeply embedded part of me that has lain dormant for so long. Thank you.

  • I’ve been struggling with my own physical situations this summer as well, Asia. Coming here today was a random thought, but it has been a poultice to my worrying mind that has such a hard time just… resting. Instead, I become anxious over illness, and I wonder how I will do the things I want to do in life, or how I will be the person I wish to be or that others expect me to be. Now, I will think of you and these words, and try to let myself rest and self-soothe when needed. I was recommended a wonderful book recently, and it goes along so well with all of this- it’s called The Alchemy of Illness, and now I recommend it to you (although- it seems you have it pretty well figured out!). Grateful for your existence. take care x

    Tiff

    • Thank you Tiff, for these beautiful and poignant words. Your reflection was deeply felt. I will be looking up the Alchemy of Illness, it sounds like such a timely healing resource. Thank you for all your sharing. Much love <3

  • A message of calm for the modern conflicted mind: How to accept wherever life takes us. I’m reminded of fave poet Theodore Roethke who wrote in villanelle:

    I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
    I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
    I learn by going where I have to go.

    Your mind in your words in your blog are something of a treasure to discover. Thanks once again.

  • Contentment is a one of those fleeting feelings and I recently realized is a piece of myself I really, really want. I discovered contentment has been missing in me so stumbling on your blog today from 2015 is amazingly timely. Serendipitous I would say. Letting go of “shoulds” and “need to get done” and remembering I am enough just as I am and appreciating the little gratefuls that happen as long as I’m looking, just might help me discover more of that fleeting feeling. I love your writing as well and have enjoyed so many of your blogs. Thank you.

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