Although in most places here in Nashville the leaves haven't yet begun to change color, evidence of fall is still plentiful. The local produce stands are colored more by the orange of pumpkins, the browns and greens and yellows of winter squash, and the myriad hues of ripe apples than they are the reds of local tomatoes and the green of watermelons. And for a while now, each morning as I walk, I've had to carefully navigate around and through the fallout from the hickory trees that border the road and sidewalks that have become my usual walking path through the condo plan. Hickory nuts, broken shells, and fallen leaves all offer opportunities for a slip or fall, or even a twisted ankle should I place a foot in just the wrong way as I walk. And this morning as I walked, a heavy breeze was dislodging nuts, making it necessary to dodge things falling from the sky as well as the litter on the ground. Quite an interesting experience!
In the beginning, as the trees began to divest themselves of their nuts, I found myself sort of cursing them as I carefully picked my way through the debris, concerned that if I stepped on a whole nut I might just roll myself right into a sitting position on the ground, twist an ankle, or find myself falling face first into the midst of the mess. And then I realized how foolish that was. The trees weren't out to get me! They weren't deliberately
making a mess along my path. They were simply doing what trees do: they were completing a necessary part of their life cycle, and the nuts that were falling, and the broken shells, were simply evidence of that process. Actually, the nuts were evidence of their success in that process. The trees had matured enough, and were healthy enough, to bear fruit, and isn't that their creative purpose? So why should I curse the trees for doing what they came here to do, just because their process was making me pay more attention to my own process?
As I thought about it, and let my perspective broaden, I saw the nuts littering my walking path as a result of the trees successfully fulfilling their purpose, as a great metaphor for the fallout that I leave behind in the process of walking my spiritual path and fulfilling my own creative
purpose. And it gave me a more accepting view of the 'litter' that others leave behind on my path, as they also worked to fulfill their souls' purpose. As we grow, as we heal, as we work through the 'litter' in our own lives, we often leave behind detritus that others must navigate around and through in order to continue their own journeys. Sometimes we are aware of the fallout, sometimes we are totally oblivious.
When we change our ways of being in an effort to grow and expand, when we begin to think and believe differently, when we begin to respond to situations and people in more thoughtful ways rather than react from a gut level, and when we begin to follow Guidance that may seem illogical even to ourselves, those around us who are accustomed to how we used to be before we began to more intentionally grow into our purpose, often find themselves having difficulty navigating their own paths as we grow, because their lives are affected by the changes we make in our own.
When I left Holy Family because the Blessed Mother told me she had work for me to do and that I couldn't do that work staying at Holy Family, my boss was affected by my choice. She had to find a new therapist to take my place, and the entire department had to acclimate to a new personality in their midst, while adjusting to my leaving. My clients at Holy Family were also affected. The new therapist took over my caseload, and my clients had to choose whether to stay on with this new person, or leave. Some of them stayed on, choosing to work through the change, but others chose to leave because my replacement didn't work the way I did and the fit didn't feel as good for them. Some of them didn't even give the new therapist a chance. They left as soon as they heard I was leaving. And I'm sure the new therapist was affected when my long term clients were transferred over to her caseload, and they chose to leave because she wasn't me! Lots of fallout because I made a choice to follow my Guidance and move more intentionally into my own creative purpose.
Leaving Holy Family allowed my gifts to evolve and expand, something that I know is a true blessing. But in the course of allowing those gifts to show themselves, I lost a best friend because she wasn't comfortable with my new abilities. She told me that if she continued to be my friend she would have to re-evaluate her entire belief system, and she wasn't willing to do that. So she chose to discontinue our friendship.
I felt great sadness at her leaving, and an emptiness within me that I didn't think would ever be filled, but the message I received from God right after that happened was that, as I continued to do His work, and continued to allow my gifts to grow and expand in the way that He wanted me to, in order to do the work I was being called to do, there could be others, perhaps many others, who would also reject and abandon me because of those gifts, and I had to be strong enough to continue on in spite of that rejection and abandonment. This experience, He said, was preparing me for what might happen as I continued to fulfill my soul's purpose. I had a choice to make that day. I could have chosen to stop expanding and growing. I could have decided I didn't want to risk additional rejection and abandonment. I could have allowed the debris that she left on my path as she walked her own path, make me smaller, rather than prepare me for expansion. I wasn't in control of the debris she left behind, I was only in control of how I navigated it.
Each choice we make to heal and grow, to fulfill our own life's purpose, has the potential to cause those around us to have to navigate their own paths more carefully, differently, more intentionally. And often it's the experiences that come from that navigating that teach us the lessons that we need to learn to progress even further on our own paths. Sometimes we are the ones leaving behind the debris, sometimes we are the ones finding our way through someone else's debris. Both parts have value, but what I'm learning as I continually strive to grow and be more, is that as I become more and more aware, more and more present, more and more conscious and accountable, I have a greater degree of responsibility for how I let the fallout fall and how I navigate what's fallen in my path.
As I said at the beginning, initially I was cursing the trees and the debris they drop in my path. But the trees aren't deliberately dropping their nuts along my path. They're just doing what they need to do, in the only way they can, to fulfill their own life's purpose. I, however, as the conscious, intelligent being that I am (or like to think I am!), have an increasing ability, as I continue to move into more positive ways of being, to recognize that the changes I am making in my own life may cause discomfort or problems for those who are traveling with me in this lifetime: my friends, my family, my co-workers, etc. I also have an increased awareness and ability, if I allow myself to, to recognize that the debris others are dropping in my path as they walk their paths, is not necessarily aimed at me deliberately to make my own life's process more difficult. It is simply fallout from their own process. Something they may be aware of, or not, depending on how far they've come in their own healing and growth. I have a choice about how I handle both parts of that process.
Keeping to the metaphor of the trees and the nuts, I can continue to curse the trees for dropping their nuts in my path: a total waste of energy, of course, since the trees aren't going to stop what they are doing. I can change my course entirely and avoid anywhere the nuts might be, but I have a feeling that no matter where I walk there will be debris of one sort or another. I can stop walking altogether, waiting for the trees to stop dropping their nuts and waiting for the fallout to disperse, but then I'm totally dependent on something completely out of my control, my progress halted in the meantime. Or, I can accept that the trees are doing exactly what they came here to do, and I can honor their process while continuing my own. I can navigate around and through the fallout they have left behind, the evidence of their success in fulfilling their own creative purpose, being attentive to where I place my feet and how, enjoying the benefits of walking, and learning whatever lessons come to me as I continue to walk my path and fulfill my own soul's purpose. The choice is mine. What about you? How are you handling the fallout?