Shift, Dissolve, Embrace
Sometimes, when I feel at a loss, I just gaze at the earth. Watching the way a child might observe an elder move about their life, quietly imprinting myself with the way things are done. As spring comes, with all its opportunity for newness, I find myself in this humble motion of observation almost daily. And the more I watch, the more I realize that the world, awakening, goes about things much differently than us humans.
Just a few weeks ago the creek was covered in ice. Today it is rushing with the mud-water of rains. The tiny daffodils along the driveway have begun blooming where the snowbanks were once piled and there is an distinct saturation of green at the edges of things. It is, all told, a seemingly radical change. But most days it happens so slowly, so naturally, it is hard to call it change at all. It is an incremental awakening that comes, not by force or push or even planning, but by its own natural softening.
Often, when we sense the need for newness, we reach for the power tools of change— those that work fast and hard, altering the surface of our landscape as quick as possible. Like taking a weedeater to a hedge of blackberry brambles or digging laboratory-made fertilizer into worn out soil. When we finally face the overgrown garden or reach the bottom of our wells, we ask ourselves— how can I beat this back? Where do I begin digging for an answer? How can I, through sheer determination, coax the flowers to bloom again?
But if we look around, at the rainsoaked beginnings of spring, we don’t see a story of force, or will, or even radical change. We see a world, shifting, embracing, and dissolving into a new beginning.
Seeing the subtle unfolding of spring is like watching a being heal itself from all wounds. Where once the ground was hard as stone now the crocuses are blooming like drops of paint flecked across the landscape. The frozen ruts from the truck are softening into mud and chickweed seed. The bare and broken stalks filling with tips of green. It is a healing that blossoms from a space of pure allowing, an acceptance of what is.
The arrival of spring teaches us a new story of how to approach transformation in our own being.
Instead of changing what doesn’t work, how can we shift our relationship to it? Like soil naturally settling to the side to allow the daffodil greens to push through.
Instead of chipping away at what feels heavy, how can we just allow it to dissolve? Like ice on the cover of the creek.
Instead of resisting the unexpected trials, how can we simply embrace what is? Like the cherry blossoms, bloomed a bit early, weathering a night of unexpected snow.
I remember hearing once about a Chinese medicine practitioner who specialized in working with cancer patients. Instead of talking about shrinking or vanquishing the tumor, he asked his patients to imagine the possibility that it could simply dissolve. Like ice in a warm bath. That we could create landscapes of such love, acceptance and allowance inside of ourselves that the tumor would want to let go of its boundaries and melt. Gentling itself into nothing, after all.
As spring arrives I find myself replacing the old words with new ones, given to me by the living elder of this world, and it brings a balm to ancient wounds.
It is healing for the part of me that often feels weighted down by the heavy responsibility of making myself as whole, woke, bright, and “enlightened” as possible. The part of me that feels I must constantly rev up the power tools to weed out what is preventing me from being in a state of grace.
Instead, I am allowing grace to come to me. Repeating, as if it were a mantra, the origin words of spring: Shift, Dissolve, Embrace.
Knowing that my own body, like the good soil of this earth, knows the way to bloom.
And that yours does too.
If you are looking for some gentle guides in this time of shifting, take a peek at our flower essence gallery for some of my favorite early spring allies for awakening.
And if you’d like to study with a warm council of humanfolk who have learned, and honed, so much from the wise teachers of the plants come join me at the Shift Network Plant Summit— A free online event exploring the intersection of medicine, ecology and spirituality in the plant kingdom.
The Shift Network is the home of gentle transformations and I’m honored to be among such a luminary group of speakers (including David Winston, Jill Stansbury, Mary Bove and Michael Tierra). Registration is free and the summit begins on March 19th. Just follow the link here to get signed up and see what shifts.
No matter what is speaking to you this spring – snowdrops or summits, crocus essence or cardinal song – know that what you are hearing is a kind of incantation unto itself. An invitation to remember that you have everything you need to heal already within. Just be like the daffodils. Shift your face to the sun, dissolve the worry of not being enough, and embrace all the gifts that are arriving here to greet you now.