In view of my commitment to continue working with my teacher Atum O’Kane, it was not a difficult decision to attend a workshop titled “Seasons of the Soul” at the beautiful Hollyhock resort on Cortes Island; then made even easier by the decision of my friend Maryann to join me.
I was not sure of the content of the program but really it did not matter because Atum will do Atum and he does that very well. We will undoubtedly draw, dance, meditate and do practices to help open the heart.
There was an immediate gift of a new envisioning for my life. Although overall I may be in the Autumn, I am in the Spring of my seventies. The group was a delightful size of ten people. Normally when studying with Atum I am in groups of thirty plus. I also enjoyed the make up of the group: three mature Atum students, five completely new to this type of work and two who were somewhere in between.
The first morning began with a deep meaningful sharing of what had drawn us to this particular group. It contained much joy, laughter, pathos, open heartedness and poignancy. I have never seen a group bond so quickly and we all laughed when one of the newer participants exclaimed, “How can this possibly happen?”
I had opened the sharing when I realized that perhaps I was in the Autumn of my Spiritual Coaching practice. My client list is only three from a high of sixteen and now I rarely seem to have enough interest for the workshops I offer. My work at Inspire Health that had been a major commitment that had faded away. These changes have not felt like a loss as the Spring of my seventies opens up possibilities for travel and self exploration. It did occur to me that perhaps I needed to grieve the fact that summer of my work as a Spiritual Teacher seemed very short.
Atum began by explaining that we are rarely in one season only, that we may be in the Spring of a relationship, the Winter of a job and the Summer of our life.
The first season we explored was Winter. Winter is a fallow time; it is dark; it is a time of reflection and germination; we journey inside and wait for the light. It is sometimes accompanied by ennui, melancholy and depression. Atum asked us to draw our tree of winter. He guided us into a meditation to await the image that arises from deep within. A lovely image of a Christmas tree in all is decorated glory began to grow in my mind. Suddenly I heard the words “No evergreens” It broke my reflection, I turned and glared at him then relaxed, “Sorry Atum, it is my Soul and my tree”, I mumbled to myself. The evergreen emerged onto the page and during our reflection afterwards I realized that Winter rarely shows its face in my life and that my next major Winter would likely to be around health challenges. The tree symbolized the foundation of faith that will help sustain me at that time. One of my small group observed that of course Christmas is right in the midst of the dark of winter.
Spring is a time of vitality and new growth where inspiration and ideas emerge. My Spring tree was an amazingly rich, lush and expansive – full of enthusiasm, hope, inspiration and joy. It seemed such an interesting image for someone in the Autumn of their life. I knew I was already seeing my seventies as a wonderful time of opportunity to travel while I was healthy and so flexible. It was after a session of sharing that Atum helped me see another possibility. We had just completed some small group interaction and he pulled me over to say, “You must keep doing this work (Spiritual Guidance); it is your Spring – I see it pouring out of you.” I felt tremendously affirmed to hear such words from my teacher but expressed my confusion about what to do next. “It is not that I don’t love doing it” I responded, “But I offer it and there is little response.” He closed his eye. for a moment and then said “let go of the money, you don’t need it” I agreed I did not but reminded him of the convention that people don’t fully appreciate what they don’t pay for. His response to let that go too.
Later we did a practice that helped me envision the change more fully. We worked in pairs to ask each other the question, “tell me a possibility” Your partner would say thank you then write your comment in your journal. To my surprise when I read my possibilities, I had said “to breathe life into my Spiritual Guidance practice” when I thought I had said Spiritual Coaching.
It helped me consider a reorientation of my work.
My three remaining clients are all much more oriented to the coaching aspect of my work, my new focus would be on the inner work of Spiritual Guidance. Strangely it seemed easier to let go of the money and operate in a different way perhaps on a “Dana” basis in the Buddhist tradition.
We only spent half an hour in Summer, it’s the work I now face – the practical steps required to make something happen. The time of engaging the dynamic masculine that has always been a strength of mine.
The last part of the workshop was on Autumn – the time of Composting, Fulfilment, Completion and Harvest. It is a time of thanksgiving and gratitude. (Compost represents the things we need to let go of ).
We did a practice to create a sense of order around Autumn and establish some focus. Mine were to be receptive to Harvest, to actively engage Completion, my healing would come from Fulfillment and that Compost was on the horizon.
Then it was time to create a poem, song or statement summarizing our journey through the seasons of the Soul. Mine came to me riding my bike down to the final morning.
Finding the Spring in the Autumn of my life, Oh Joy.
Shattered conventions with a windshield to match*, Oh Joy.
Winter seems a long way off, Oh Joy.
Moving forward into Spring with passion and inspiration, Oh Joy.
* In one of those remarkable synchronicities, while driving to the workshop, a large rock flew up and damaged my windshield beyond repair.