Elul. Here again. During any given year, I have (1) ignored it altogether, (2) generated many good intentions and done nothing, and (3) started and stopped some kind of spiritual discipline only to have it fizzle out. Gradually, I have learned that I need to find stillness in this hectic world for a kind of gentleness to fill me. Only then can I ‘enter’ Elul. I have learned to treat this gentleness “as a powerful stranger.”
I seek out writings of many traditions in search of words to guide me. This is one of my favorites.
Lost: A Native Elder’s Poem
The trees ahead and the bushes behind you
are not lost.
Wherever you are it’s called Here.
And you must treat it like a powerful stranger.
You must ask permission to know and be known.
The forest breathes.
It answers: I have made a place around you.
If you leave it, you may always come back again
just by saying, Here.
Listen: No two trees are the same.
They’re not the same to the Raven.
No two branches are the same to the Wren.
If what a tree or bush does is lost on you,
you are truly lost.
But just stand still.
The forest knows where you are
and you must let it find you.
~An old Native American elder story rendered into modern English by David Wagoner, in The Heart Aroused – Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America by David Whyte, Currency Doubleday, New York, 1996.