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  • Writer's pictureshelisloterbeek

Desert Teachings: Holding things Loosely

I come from a lush land where things grow in the ground, sometimes even without watering them. I come from a place with four distinct, beautiful seasons. Where I grew up the trees would burn up at the end of summer, announcing fall with their fire of vivid reds, yellows and oranges. Fall was my favorite time of the year. Crisp mornings, warm afternoons and cool evenings.

And then I moved to the desert.

In Phoenix, the desert fall, as I knew it, doesn't mean very much. Sure, daylight is shorter, but it's still pretty warm. Trees won't change color for awhile yet, if at all. And, while the rest of the country harvests their summer bounty, we're just beginning to plant (unless you're a super rockstar gardener, which I am not.)

I notice in my daughter's school lunch calendar, fall leaves outline the border. And December, there's bound to be a snowman or snowflakes. There are poems that children learn about spring and flowers, common phrases like "April showers bring May flowers". But these aren't true for us in the desert.

There was a grieving that happened along the way. A grieving that I thought fall wouldn't and couldn't mean the same thing to me any longer in the desert. A grieving of my beautiful trees changing colors. A grieving that as others begin to draw in for the winter, I'm beginning to unfold toward the outdoors. It all seemed to go against what was placed within me.

But what if that was okay?

What if where I am now is just a place to redefine the seasons?

There's a freedom that comes with being able to release my tightly gripped hands around what I have always known. To be open to something new, be able to be taught in a new way. But it doesn't come easily. Opening hands and hearts is something that takes time to notice, cultivate, be present to the process.

This place of holding loosely is called the "both and". I can hold both my old love and understanding of fall and my new understanding of fall together in open hands. They can sit next to each other. There's the beauty of the leaves changing color and the beauty of new growth. I am able to hold both the goodbye of my old fall and the hello of my current one. And they can rest side by side within me at peace.

Often the invitation of "both and" will present itself in a place where a choice doesn't need to be made, but rather a perspective shifted.

Is there a place that feels conflicted within you that perhaps the invitation of "both and" might be something to open up to?

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