Unfolding

When we are graced away from distractions and urgent busyness we might sense that there is an ongoing longing present inside us to unfold something that has waited for us to care enough to manifest it. It seems it takes grace to even begin to notice.

Here’s a beautiful quote from Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Many a humble soul will be amazed to find that the seed it sowed in weakness, in the dust of daily life, has blossomed into immortal flowers under the eye of love.

Phrases posted on Facebook, April 2021

In February I bought some moonflower seeds hoping to start some sturdy plants, tall vines that would give me a little privacy on the veranda in a busy neighborhood. Those seeds tend to be slow in germinating. They look like old, dried out peas.
The instructions said to soak the seeds for 8 hours before planting them. What a good metaphor for what it takes to begin to change something old that is set in its ways and needs to unfold. We need warmth and a gentle encouragement to even begin. Then to soak up warmth and gentleness can be a vital way to begin the unfolding process.
Here’s more of the moonflower story and its unfolding. Once soaked and warmed, the seeds are put into wet, dark earth in little pots and left to germinate. How many times have we felt warmed and encourage, only then to be plunged into something dark, confining and inexplicable? I thought I was on my way, we might think only to find ourselves God only knows where–wordless, confused and afraid. But, yes, we are unfolding believe it or not.
  
More of the moonflower story . . . Day by day I looked at the seed pots. Nothing was emerging. I was hopeful. I waited. Still nothing showed for weeks. We know don’t we, that patience and trust are parts of the unfolding process? In the seeming dark, something in us is seeking ground. It seems mighty slow!! Yet our roots are shyly and slowly unfolding.  We can’t feel it, yet a huge transformation is invisibly happening. Here’s a quote by Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams that speaks to our condition: Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.
Moonflower continuation: One day, at last, something pokes up out of the soil!! It looks hunched, dun colored and insignificant. The seed casing has not yet fallen off. It’s hard to realize that from this littleness a twelve-foot vine will grow fragrant flowers the size of a child’s hand. I want to learn to not despise my little efforts. I want to let unfolding surprise me.
Once the little seedling poked up into view I saw that it was comprised of two leaves stuck together resembling two hands clasped in prayer. The seedling stayed that way a long time, and I realized I needed to help the leaves separate so that more could happen. I separated them gently. To me this seemed like a metaphor. Praying is vital, but then we have to open our hands and get to work, too. Rest, prayer and work are ingredients that intrinsically belong to unfolding.
To daily attend anything is the royal way of unfolding even if it is just a glance, a thought, or a small conscious act. To unfold within requires the same on a different plane. In silence we learn to let ourselves be attend by Spirit as if we were simple plants receiving water.
Here’s a wonderful quote from Oriah Mountain Dreamer. What if becoming who and what we truly are happens not through striving and trying but by recognizing and receiving the people and places and practices that offer us the warmth of encouragement we need to unfold?
Imagine a bolt of folded fabric. Again and again it comes up against itself, creased into smallness. For sure it’s all there, but unable to be its full length. When we fold ourselves into smallness to fit in, we are easily stored in the status quo, but the longing to be fully ourselves will always want to unfold.
We know things don’t unfold smoothly most of the time. Though everything appears to be chaotic, mathematics teaches us there are patterns in chaos. Then, to unfold according to our true personal pattern, it is important to have periods of being still and unknowing. That gives our depth dimension a chance to show us in little glimmers of how the next productive pattern can emerge.
Moonflowers: Once the seedlings are transplanted helping the unfolding is to NOT fuss but to be regular in watering and occasional feeding. Anything that is good for us and doesn’t harm others can be nurtured by peaceful awareness, maybe even benign neglect. That implies trust, and to me trust is the spiritual sunshine we can apply to all unfolding in our lives.
The moonflower seedlings on my windowsill have now climbed a foot up the dowels in their pots. The vines need something to support them. We always need support as we unfold, and sometimes giving others support is how we unfold. That is a good mystery.
Soon the moonflower seedlings will be in their big pots on the veranda. The vines will keep climbing and unfolding until a bud is formed and blossoms. We don’t know how long in our own unfolding it will take before fruition happens. We need to surrender to the process because forcing and agitating doesn’t help. It prevents things from their natural progression. Slow, continuous and gentle is the unfolding way.
Let’s end this month on the subject of unfolding with a quote from Lynne Twists that seems to sum it all up. When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. When you make a difference with what you have, it expands.