I love a good burning bowl ceremony, especially around the beginning of the year. The prospect of purging all undesirable attitudes and conditions is really attractive — write that stuff down and set it on fire! Such dramatic ritual can imbue the idea of release with the fiery passion of an exorcism. It also invokes something sacrificial, which can make it even more deliciously intense.
And while I don’t usually shy away from intensity, I’m wondering if there’s another way that I might approach the year’s ending and beginning. Maybe instead of burning the past, I can compost it.
I’d like to own and honor where I’ve been, rather than treating the experiential wisdom of my life as something to turn to ash in order to “get over” it. Everything that I’m ready to clear from my plate — seeming obstacles, old paradigms and habits, self-limiting ideas, all the ways I’ve felt stuck — I can recognize these as part of the foundation upon which the present rests. All of it has been essential to opening up the myriad possibilities before me now.
For sure, I’m ready to call 2018 complete: Bring on the next course! And there are still some scraps on my plate — a morsel of regret, a tidbit of bitterness, an avoided conversation, a few woeful stories… Maybe I’ll decide to gnaw on them a while longer, maybe they can go in the fridge to be reconsidered as leftovers tomorrow, maybe they are in fact ready for disposal. In any case, it seems wasteful to not appreciate the nourishment they’ve provided so far.
Certainly, we don’t want to let our past define our future, especially not the parts that feel like mistakes or dysfunction. That needn’t clutter the way before us.
But there are different ways to complete the past — we can try to burn it to the ground and salt the earth behind us, or we can see that what has come before is in truth the rich soil in which we’re going to plant next year’s harvest.
Pearl S. Buck wrote, “One faces the future with one’s past.” I think that’s just the way it works, beloveds, whether we set it on fire or not.
We’ve planned a sweet ritual for this Sunday, January 6, in which we can symbolically release last year into its new becoming, its evolution, its growth. We’ll also create intentions for the year ahead, embarking into the progress and fulfillment that is our destiny.
I can’t wait to be with you! XO, Drew