This is an update on a blog I wrote two years ago: I am very aware of the wet bits of May 2014, having spent a week on an off-grid camp where it rained almost continually. I was leading groups on resilience at this camp, and it was touching to see how the community dug deep to find reserves of kindness and tolerance as the mud got deeper too.
Living in mud for a week is a great model for modern life in general. You could see the mud as yukky and dismal, or choose to change the story, remember the playful child in you, and see it all as an adventure… Now back to the 2012 blog:
I am writing this at Hazel Hill Wood, sitting at the foot of my favourite beech tree, with a struggling campfire. It has been raining heavily for days, now it’s merely a light drizzle pushed along by a strong South-Westerly wind. This seems to be the shape of May 2012.
Early May is my favourite time of the year, especially at Hazel Hill: the bluebells are usually abundant, the birdsong is intense, and there is new growth everywhere. As you may guess, this year it’s all pretty subdued. Many bluebells haven’t even flowered. The wood is damp and chilly like early March, and yet the Spring growth is here. The green of young beech leaves is brilliant, almost electric, even in this weather. But the lack of sun has shown me how much I, and probably most people, depend on Spring sunshine for our own sense of growth and renewal.
I know many organic farmers and gardeners who say that it’s best not to water and fertilise your plants too much. Their approach forces the plants to root deeper in order to find water and nutrients. There’s a useful parallel here for humans in a wet Spring.
The silver lining in these clouds is the chance to strengthen your will and intent, and dig deeper in yourself, in order to find the inner fire to fuel your Spring growth. It’s like cycling instead of driving a car: not so easy and convenient, but it makes you fitter, stronger, less dependent on outside support.
How to do this? Robert Osborn, who co-leads some Men Beyond 50 groups, offers this method: Find a quiet place outdoors, and sit comfortably on the earth. Now imagine you are like a tree, and that your spine extends into roots below the ground, and branches with leaves above your head. Visualise drawing deep red fire, the physical vitality of the earth, up through your roots. Then combine this with drawing white fire down through your leaves from the sky, the inspiration of spirit in whatever form you conceive it.
Nature remains one of our greatest teachers. Even in a dismally damp May, the trees’ roots are reaching into the warmer earth below ground, their leaves are finding whatever light there is, and they are growing with the season. To quote from a song by James Burgess:
By the fire that is under the earth,
By the fire that is over the earth,
By the fire in the heart of heroes…