let it be

I was in yoga class last week, and as I lifted into a heart-opening backbend, this cover of the Beatles song “Let it Be” came on. And upside down, sweaty, and for anyone to see, I started crying. For sure out of the sense of comfort the song offers -- “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom: let it be.” But also and maybe more so out of sense of permission -- the permission to let it be. Whatever it is. Whatever I am. To let go of the perfectionism and the striving, if only for a moment. To let it be.

So much of our suffering comes from our grasping to what we wish were true, to the wish that things were somehow different, more in line with what we believe would make our lives better, easier, prettier. What happens when we let it be, whatever it is? Whatever we are? When we relax into the actual now, without striving to alter its essential nature? When we open to the world’s more difficult gifts?

It’s coming up on the winter solstice, the day of the year with the least light, the most dark.

Around now, or even sooner, we start complaining about the winter, the cold and the dark, as if the cold and the dark don’t also have their gifts. We keep our sights focused on the dream of spring, the fantasy of spring’s perfection and summer’s bliss, rather than the generous now of how the dark does come early, beckoning us home or inward or out to wander among the shapes made by starlight or moonlight or streetlights or bonfires.

When we could just let it be. 

The central rule of my lineage and practice is so long as it harms none, do as you will. Which can be read as very passive -- do whatever you want, as long as it causes no harm. But the deeper, truer reading focuses on the idea of “will” -- an injunction to live the lives we are meant to live, to do what we are meant to do, so long as no one is harmed by our actions. 

This duality lives in “let it be” as well. 

The word amen means “so it be.” Amen from the Hebrew āmēn, meaning “certainty,” “truth,” “verily.” The pagan so mote it be -- so may it be. In this path, let it be can be an invocation, a tiny prayer, a request. Let it be. Please let it be. 

And in all of it, we are invited to move with the universe, in alignment with our individual will, to let it be by releasing, to let it be through our actions, held in the comfort and grand permission of an immense power through the rich darkness of which rings language for us to hold

And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be

I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be



light thoughts

Happy solstice, readers! This day offers the most light of any day of the year; from the winter solstice until now the days have been steadily extending themselves, offering incrementally more light cycle by cycle, building to this moment, the bright center of the blooming season. From here on through the year, the offered light will wane, though we still have weeks, even months, of bright warmth ahead. (Interesting scientific facts about the solstice here!) 

And this does not change -- the world will always offer us the same amount of light, the same stretch of day. It is up to us to decide how open we will be to it, how we will receive it, and what we will do with it once it is received.

The universe offers us a multitude of gifts -- there is abundance all around us at all times – but how open are we to receiving them? On this longest day, will we commit ourselves to seeing the brightness, opening ourselves to it, taking it in and letting it transform us? Or will we focus on the fact that come tomorrow, the days will begin to shorten again, sorrowing at how quickly the seasons pass?

Among the gifts the universe offers us is light, and among them is darkness, both in their own place and time, both with abundance to offer. Also among the gifts the universe has to give us is fire, which purifies and burns, brightens and brings to ash.

I’m reminded of the ancient ritual of jumping the fire in order to invite fertility, strength, and signify commitment. I have to wonder if this was not at least in part a recognition that no exceptional path is without obstacles, that something must be endured in order for progress to occur.

Or maybe it was a reminder that what seems like a barrier is often a door. If what you truly desire is on the other side of the fire, you will pass through that fire to get there. You will hold fast to your love’s hand, or to your own hand, your own driving desire, and you will leap the fire.

How will we receive this offering? What will we do with all of these bright and burning gifts?

Thought exercise: Know that in front of you is a blazing bonfire, its flames as high as your head. As you stand before it, feel its heat move over your skin. Close your eyes and see its brightness move even through your shut eyelids. Draw the light into your body, down into the core of your belly.

Once there, in the cauldron of your core, the light begins to take shape. It moves and dances as flame does, but also has the solid quality of molten gold. It is as though the sun itself is moving in you, but malleable and transforming from moment to moment.

What shapes does it take? Does it form a solid immediately or morph from one to the next? Let yourself watch and be entertained, because this light is pure joy and ecstatic possibility – and it is yours.

Once its form solidifies and becomes evident, take a step back and observe. Is this something you give back to the bonfire and then leap over, committing to movement and progress? Or is it something to make part of you, to absorb into every cell of your being, spreading its light throughout your body? Do what feels right and true in this moment, knowing this fire is yours to return to anytime, no matter how dark the year turns, no matter how far from it you walk.

Happy solstice. Be gentle with your good self.